Google gets flack for FLoC

Sondra Campanelli, Head of News and Marketing (London)

Neudata News
Post feature

Google has scrapped plans to introduce its third-party cookie alternative only days after receiving complaints from German publishers that the new product would hurt their businesses.

That alternative — called Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) — would have kept Internet activity data inside of a users’ browser and would have created anonymised cohorts that advertisers could target.

In January, several German publishers, advertisers and media groups sent a 108-page complaint to EU regulators opposing FLoC. Their main issue? That Google’s plan would decrease competition in the EU since firms will no longer be able to track users’ preferences (and would therefore lose ad revenue).

Days later, Google proposed a new solution called Topics API, which would pinpoint a basket of user interests based on web activity.

Clickstream data vendors are likely to be the providers most affected by disruptions to the third-party cookie replacement process, as are on-site search data vendors. Many vendors are working on or have already implemented systems that rely on first-party cookies to collect data, which are not affected by these changes.

To read Neudata's Intelligence piece from Feb 2021 on "What to expect from Google's third-party cookie ban," click here.

Google introduced FLoC in the first quarter of 2021 to minimise the risk that single-user browsing data would end up in the hands of bad actors. Under its current system, Google allows websites to store small pieces of data (cookies) on user’s websites. Third-party cookies – which are hosted on a website but don’t belong to the website publisher – are largely used by ad tech firms to track users’ clickstream activity and provide targeted advertising.

Though it originally said it would replace third-party cookies in Chrome by 2022, the tech firm later announced that the project wouldn’t be complete until 2023. Google faces pressure from regulators to come up with a consumer-privacy-compliant solution, particularly since browsers like Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox have already banned third-party cookies on their browsers.


Photo by Rene Böhmer on Unsplash