What is Google FLoC and how will it affect advertising?

New privacy-enhanced cookies from Google

FLoC stands for “Federated Learning of Cohorts“This is a new system that Google will implement to do away with third-party cookies.

The new FLoC system organizes users into groups of thousands or millions based on their browsing data and preferences, which change every 7 days.

Although, in principle, FLoC should have been implemented in March 2021, the pandemic by COVID-19 and other integration problems, have led Google to set the new implementation date of this new cookie system for january 2022at which point support for third party cookies will be completely removed.

Cookies have long been an issue, as they imply that the web always tracks activity of each user. For example, when accessing an online store, they take information about the items purchased, but also about the items visited. Later, they use this information to display personalized ads, which for many users is a violation of privacy.

In this regard, for some time now, websites are obliged to always ask whether or not the users allow their cookies. However, this is not enough for many, including Google.

How does FLoC work?

Instead of adding a small HTML file to the browser to track activity, like cookies, FLoC will add the user to a or another, which it calls Cohorts, depending on their browsing preferences and tastes. In this sense, FLoC does not follow the user individually, but as part of a group. Hence its name, which is a play on the word “Flock”, which translates as “flock” or “flock”.

FLoC classifies and assigns each user to a cohort where there are thousands or millions of users. To create the cohorts, Google uses user browsing, activity, and preference data. Once a cohort has been created, it is assigned an ID, which will be like an ID cardand it will be this ID that will be registered and tracked when accessing a web page or site.

In this way, Google avoids personal tracking and does not have the information of a specific person, which for them is a great advantage in terms of privacy. However, the user will not be able to choose or change cohorts, since the SimHash algorithm will be in charge of creating them with our browsing data. In this sense, the cohorts are not definitive either, as they will change every 7 days, depending on our searches and online activity.

Isn’t it the same as cookies? How will it affect advertising?

Many users feel that cookies and FLoC are two sides of the same coin. Instead of personal tracking, people are grouped together and the group is tracked. The result is still the same our online activity is tracked.

That may be so, however, Google needs a way to offer Google Ads advertisers the ability to track their users’ activity in order to create effective advertising campaigns that don’t rely on personal tracking and tracing (whether through cookies, IP tracking, location tracking, etc.).

At the same time, once FLoC has been definitively enabled, some conversion metrics will disappearas they will be impossible to track without a personal analysis of the activity. At the same time, FLoC is a Google tool, so it will be native to Chrome and it’s possible that other browsers will may choose not to use it.

In this regard, most browsers and search engines on the market have come out against FLoC. This means that online advertising platforms will still be able to obtain information from third-party cookies in other browsers.

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