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How Google's Ad Tracking is Changing with FLoC

Google has been working on developing a new way of tracking users called FLoC, which they claim will provide more privacy without hurting businesses who rely on advertisements.

Ally Bootsma

Ally Bootsma

Inbound Marketing Expert

Internet users know what you’re doing with their data. In fact, everyone seems increasingly concerned about privacy and the amount of information that websites save about their visitors.

After the release of Netflix’s popular 2020 documentary, “The Social Dilemma,” people were made aware of just how much of their personal data is being collected, and how that data is used to sell them specific products, and keep them on certain apps.

Google has been working on developing a new way of tracking users called the Federated Learning of Cohorts or FLoC. The announcement from Google ensured that FLoC would provide more privacy without hurting businesses who rely on advertisements.

Is it really possible for Google to save data without violating user’s privacy?

What is floc?

Federated Learning of Cohorts, or FLoC, is Google’s new way of tracking its users without the use of third-party cookies. Other browsers like Firefox and Safari have already phased out third-party cookies, and now Google Chrome, the largest web browser, is following suit, but taking a slightly different approach.

google-ads-analyticsCookies are being replaced by Google's FLoC.

FLoC will sort users into “cohorts” based on their common interests. Rather than ad publishers tracking someone as they jump from website to website, their browser history is held by FLoC and isn’t shared with anyone. This way, a publisher will not know your identity, they will only know which cohort you belong to.

Google’s goal with FLoC is “to develop a set of new privacy-preserving technologies that make third-party cookies obsolete and enable publishers to keep growing their businesses and keep the web sustainable, with universal access to content.”

First-party cookies

First-party cookies are responsible for remembering things like passwords and basic data about the visitor. These cookies are accessible only to the website that you are on, and are not shared with any other websites. Websites like Amazon may remember your login information, the items in your cart, and your credit card information. This information is kept securely within this website. 

Third-Party Cookies

Third-party cookies are tracking codes that are placed on a web visitor's computer after being generated by another website other than the one that they’re on. When a website has access to a person’s third-party cookie data, it has access to their online behaviors, such as websites they frequently visit, recent purchases, and interests that they've shown on various websites.

Have you ever been looking at a pair of sunglasses online, and then seen online advertisements for sunglasses shortly afterwards? That’s the power of third-party cookies.

What Does FLoC Mean for Marketers?

FLoC could potentially cause some hurdles for marketers who rely heavily on PPC, and other strategies that rely on third-party data. According to Google Ads, cookie-less traffic yielded an average of 52% less revenue for the ad publisher. Because of this, the use of first-party data will become more critical.

Marketers will have to be prepared to pivot in order to stay on top of these new changes, but Google’s goal is to make FLoC just as effective for marketers as third-party cookies. FLoC is currently still in the testing stage, so keep an eye out for any news regarding FLoC so you can start altering your marketing strategy accordingly.

If you need assistance in adjusting your marketing strategy, contact us for a free consultation, and we'd be glad to help you out. 

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