Embracing FLoC as a Viable Alternative to Third-Party Cookies
Consumer privacy concerns have been building for several years, and we have all been under pressure to come up with solutions for doing business in a cookieless world. Google, in typical fashion, has answered the call to action rolling out FLoC, or its Federated Learning of Cohort, one component of Google’s Privacy Sandbox initiative – an innovative, proprietary identification system which creates large groups or cohorts of consumers for targeting based on interests, while protecting the anonymity of individual users. Google began testing FLoC in March within its Chrome browser which reaches 70% of internet users.
So far, the industry’s response has been lukewarm. However, I’m optimistic that FLoC offers a promising solution for Chrome users and its partners like marketers, publishers, and consumers. By offering a secure first-party alternative to capture and group consumer habits and preferences, FLoC could be one of our most powerful weapons against a cookie apocalypse, continuing to make advertising work to reach targeted audiences with measurable results.
As our industry evolves to meet the new challenges of a cookieless internet, I’m looking at Google’s track record, brand recognition, and overall influence, and I’m betting on their success. I’ve been working with Google for twenty years now, and I’m confident in forging ahead, regarding Google as a valued partner who respects the industry, knows their stuff, and needs us for this to work. I believe our ability to be agile, flexible, and inclusive of FLoC will create a scalable model for ad tech.
Google is a Step Ahead
After all, Google is one of few industry players who has proactively come up with a plan for the ad tech ecosystem. While other browsers have begun to eliminate or warn users of third-party cookies, Google is a step ahead in developing a new strategy to keep consumer technology and internet usage available.
The Worldwide Web Consortium (WC3’s) poses this question for the community, “Could there be a win-win-win solution [of] privacy-preserving methods for advertising that serves the users who want access to web services, the publishers that want to monetize their web services and content, and advertisers who want those to be platforms for reaching users?” Google’s plan is on point. In a recent blog post, Google shared, “When other browsers started blocking third-party cookies by default, we were excited about the direction, but worried about the immediate impact. Excited because we absolutely need a more private web, and we know third-party cookies aren’t the long-term answer. Worried because today many publishers rely on cookie-based advertising to support their content efforts, and we had seen that cookie blocking was already spawning privacy invasive workarounds (such as fingerprinting) that were even worse for user privacy. Overall, we felt that blocking third-party cookies outright without viable alternatives for the ecosystem was irresponsible, and even harmful, to the free and open web we all enjoy.”
At ENGINE Media Exchange (EMX) we will continue to look towards supporting all solutions that protect consumer privacy and address our partners’ needs. In addition to testing Google FLoC, we are Prebid Members and support SWAN. ENGINE’s systems accept are a bore for identifiers, accepting all those who have material impact to evolving digital advertising needs.
Google has shared a cohesive plan that could potentially benefit the entire industry whereas its competitors have simply begun to block third party cookies with no clear direction for the future. What’s scarier? Having a plan which secures Google’s leadership of the industry yet continues to provide space for the rest of us, or having no plan at all?