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Google – the world’s #1 search engine – has always been proactive when it comes to taking the bull by its horns. This time too, the tech giant is working towards an innovation that can potentially benefit both end-users and advertisers alike.

The Need to Replace Third Party Cookies

Today, many marketers have to rely on cookies to streamline their content targeting. But this is counterproductive since cookie-blocking leads to workarounds such as fingerprinting that are effectively worse for user data privacy. Hence, third-party cookies are not aligned with the customers’ increasing concern for data protection and identity privacy. 

Google Floc – A Potential Game-changer in Search Engine Marketing

A few weeks back, Google announced that it is working towards replacing third-party cookies with smarter technologies. These technologies can help ad companies target specific demographics like age,location, and browser history without compromising on the end-users’ choice to remain anonymous.

FloC (Federated Learning of Cohorts) is a work-in-progress browser standard recently proposed by Google. It will enable “interest-based advertising on the web” without revealing the end-users’ identity. Essentially, this means that Google Chrome browsers will use smart algorithms to create target groups or cohorts that possess common qualities and interests. While the individual browsing history will stay anonymized, the browser will automatically assign each user to a pre-defined cohort.

Promoting Interest-based Advertising with FloC

Advertisers are in a race to reach people with relevant content by targeting specific messages to clusters of audiences with similar interests. Google’s ad team’s recent simulations have done initial testing on FLoC as a privacy-first alternative to third-party cookies. According to Google, “Our tests of FLoC to reach in-market and affinity Google Audiences show that advertisers can expect to see at least 95% of the conversions per dollar spent when compared to cookie-based advertising. The specific result depends on the strength of the clustering algorithm that FLoC uses and the type of audience being reached.”

Recent Developments

Both FLoC and Google’s other privacy sandbox initiatives are still work-in-progress. The trials for the same are expected to commence in the U.S., Australia, Brazil, Canada, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand and the Philippines, and then scale globally. Google will not be running any tests in Europe owing to GDPR and other privacy regulations. There will also be an option for users to opt out of the trials.

Conclusion: What Does It All Mean for Marketers?

Google’s Privacy Sandbox and FLoC aim to innovate new ways for marketers to create and deploy their target audiences without relying on third-party cookies. In the age of GDPR and CCPA, ensuring data privacy for end-users without killing the profitability of advertisers is an uphill task. With FLoC, Google is addressing the elephant in the room, and marketers can hope to benefit from it in the long run through better and smarter targeting. 

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