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Google FLoC To Replace Third-Party Browser Cookies

  • Google plans to remove the-party browsing cookies in two years.
  • The company will replace them with the FLoC system, which enables ad targeting based on similar interest groups.

Google is determined for fundamental changes in online advertising. The tech giant is going to replace third-party cookies with Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC), an artificial intelligence (AI) system within the upcoming two years.

What changes?

FLoC enables ad targeting based on users general interests. The technology analyzes browsing history of its Chrome users and then categorizes them into cohorts, or groups with the similar interests or browsing habits.

Advertisers then will be able to place their ads directly targeted to people based on which group they are in. All the data collected will be stored and processed in Chrome, thus in Google. This brings a fundamental change in how advertising players reach their users.

Currently, Google uses third-party cookies, or small pieces of code, that track user browsing history. They collect data and transfer them to third-parties that later display targeted ads based on user browsing interests and online behavior.

The internet giant, however, has not clarified yet how detailed the classification of these FLoC groups will be. The company expects to have clearer answers in March.

On the flipside

  • The online advertising industry comprises massive amounts of data that are traded each second.
  • The opponents are wary that the companies that rely on web ads can be put out of business as Google possibly monopolizes the online advertising market.
  • Critics claim that FLoc can lead to some unintended but real consequences such as user discrimination.

Google’s decision to remove third-party cookies in Chrome was first announced in August 2019, when the company disclosed an initiative called Privacy Sandbox and its ambitions to build a more private web.

Google Chrome accounts for about 63.63% of the global internet browser market share. Its new cookie policy will definitely have an impact, although the tech giant will not be the first in the field to reform it.

The second biggest browser Safari (19.37%) already limited third-party cookie tracking four years ago by introducing the Intelligent Tracking Prevention tool. Firefox (3.65%) blocked billions of third-parties from seeing user online activity back in 2019.

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