Google has announced, via blog, that it will make its alternative to third-party cookies, Google FloC, available for public testing in Q2 2021 and claims it will protect the privacy of users while providing advertisers with needed attribution data.

Finding the balance. GDPR, CCPA, the elimination of third-party cookies, browsers cracking down on fingerprinting, and other privacy measures all have to be balanced with the understanding that tech companies rely on ad revenue and businesses rely on advertising to drive more traffic and grow their own businesses.

The FLoC model is the future of advertising measurement for Google which attempts to both give advertisers the data they need to attribute and measure and determine fraudulent traffic from actual visitors while maintaining the privacy of individuals online.

“Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) … effectively hides individuals ‘in the crowd’ and uses on-device processing to keep a person’s web history private on the browser… Chrome intends to make FLoC-based cohorts available for public testing through origin trials with its next release in March and we expect to begin testing FLoC-based cohorts with advertisers in Google Ads in Q2,” Google said in an announcement.

FLoCs are created by using on-device machine learning to group users into cohorts based on their browsing behavior so that individuals are, at least theoretically, indistinguishable from the other people in their cohort.

Some of the most important impacts of this change will be seen in:

So why the change? Since third party cookies have been a part of the web since before its commercial coming of age in the 90s, critical functionality that the web has come to rely on (e.g., single sign-on, and personalized ads) has been developed assuming that functionality exists. In order to transition the web to a more privacy-respecting default, it is incumbent upon us to replace that function as best we can with privacy-conscious methods.

In the ideal end-state, from a user’s perspective, there won’t be any difference between how the web of today and the web in a post-Privacy Sandbox world work, except that they will be able to feel confident that the browser is working on their behalf to protect their privacy and when they ask questions about how things work they will like the answers they find. In addition, if a given user is either uncomfortable with or just doesn’t like personalized advertising, they will have the ability to turn it off without any degradation of their experience on the web.

Google is launching experiments that are intended to provide bidders with an opportunity to test and provide collaborative feedback on ads-privacy proposals–these are features intended to improve user privacy protections and provide mechanisms for testing Chrome Privacy Sandbox proposals. We strongly encourage interested bidders to sign up and participate!”

Google is more confident than ever that the Privacy Sandbox is the best path forward to improve privacy for web users while ensuring publishers can earn what they need to fund great content and advertisers can reach the right people for their products.

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