Google announced that it will implement “Alliance Joint Learning (FLoC)”, which is an important part of its Chrome browser “Privacy Sandbox” project. FLoC is touted as an alternative advertising targeting for third-party cookies. It runs locally and categorizes your browsing behavior, thus classifying like-minded users into one category. It will enable users to hide among people with similar interests and search history. This group allows advertisers to identify target groups based on their interests, while maintaining the privacy of individual users.
Google announced in a post on its web developer blog that it will soon stop registering third-party cookies for websites. Microsoft is currently testing FLoC in India, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines and the United States. Google plans to eventually extend the trial version to other regions. Due to the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation, Google has not tested FLoC in the European Union (it is not clear whether FLoC ID should be regarded as personal data under this rule).Marshall Vale, Product Manager of Privacy Sandbox, said in a speech tweet It just launched a test version of FLoC in a specific market to limit the scale of the initial test, and the team conducting the FLoC test is “100% committed to the privacy sandbox in Europe.”
Vale detailed in his blog post how FLoC works, which is “a new approach to interest-based advertising that can improve privacy and provide publishers with the tools needed for a viable advertising business model.” The new system will group users with similar interests to provide advertisers with the benefits of targeted marketing and provide users with sufficient privacy. Users will become part of a larger group defined by similarities in browsing history.
FLoC will not share browsing data with Google or any other advertisers. Cohorts are identified by a special number (FLoC ID), which is the only content shared when requested by the website. Chrome will also not share cohorts that it considers sensitive. Therefore, if users in a cohort are visiting websites with sensitive content (such as religious or political content) at a high rate, FLoC will not share such data with advertisers.
The search giant will also allow users to voluntarily choose to join the FLoC trial, which is similar to any other “privacy sandbox” trial. Google also pointed out that its own advertising space will receive the same FLoC ID access rights as third-party advertisers. In January of this year, a report on the Google blog detailed how the FLoC system “compared to cookie-based advertising, advertisers are expected to see at least 95% of the dollar conversion cost.” In January 2020, Google announced that it would phase out Third-party web tracking of cookies in its Chrome browser. Safari announced in March 2020 that the browser will soon block third-party cookies through its Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) system. After the Firefox 85 update was announced in January 2021, Firefox followed suit and cracked down on super cookies.
Except for the Chrome browser, most browsers completely block ads or third-party cookies. Instead, Chrome seeks to make users less vulnerable to FLoC cookies. Google cannot completely block cookies on its browser, because it is the company’s main source of revenue. In the browser field, Chrome occupies most of the market share; in the advertising field, it occupies the market share of Google Ad Sense. FLoC may become a standard for preventing third-party cookies in the future.
Ealier this year, the US Department of Justice is worried about Google’s plan to block cookies. The plan may kill many smaller competitors because of the loss of data collection tools.
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