So far, TechCrunch has written several articles about attempts to build an alternative to cookies that track users across multiple websites. But Google says it doesn’t intend to follow that path.
The search giant has already announced that its browser, Chrome, will phase out support for third-party cookies. On March 3rd, Google announced its future policy.
David Temkin, director of product management at the company and responsible for advertising privacy and trust, said, “After third-party cookies are being phased out, we’ll replace them with identifiers that track individuals browsing the web. We’re not going to build it, and we’re not going to use it in our products,” he wrote in a blog post.
“We know that other providers may offer a level of (user identification) functionality that we do not provide, such as email address-based user identification information, for ad tracking on the web. “Yes,” continued Temkin. “We don’t think these solutions meet the ever-increasing consumer privacy needs, nor do they meet the rapidly evolving regulations, so they last for the long term. I don’t think it’s a possible investment.”
This doesn’t mean that Google won’t do any personally targeted advertising. Instead, thanks to “advancements in aggregation, anonymization, on-device processing, and other privacy protection technologies,” “you no longer need to track individual consumers on the web to get the performance that benefits digital advertising.” Temkin insists.
As an example, Temkin presented a new approach called “Cohort Associative Learning (FLoC)” currently being tested by Google. This allows for ads that target a large group of users based on common interests. According to Temkin, Google plans to begin testing FLoC with advertisers in the second quarter of 2021.
Temkin also said that these changes target third-party data and do not affect publishers’ ability to track and target visitors to their site. “We will continue to support first-party relationships with our advertising platform so that our partners can have direct relationships with their customers.”
However, it is worth noting that the Electronic Frontier Foundation describes the FLoC as “the opposite of privacy protection technology” and compares it to the “behavioral credit score.”
Cookies are being phased out across the industry, but the UK Competition and Markets Agency is currently investigating Google’s antitrust plans because of antitrust concerns.
Some have criticized Google for using privacy as an excuse to boost its market power. Similar criticisms have been made against Apple over the upcoming iOS privacy changes.
Rachel Maga is a technology journalist currently working at Globe Live Media agency. She has been in the Technology Journalism field for over 5 years now. Her life’s biggest milestone is the inside tour of Tesla Industries, which was gifted to her by the legend Elon Musk himself.