What is FLoC?
Google saw a need to create advertising solutions to circumvent ad platforms from developing other, more invasive ways of tracking. The outcome was Federated Learning or Cohorts (FLoC), where instead, individual cookies are aggregated at the cohort level and passed between sites and platforms.
With FLoc, each browser is assigned an ID that determines its group- memberships. So there will be no overlap in IDs across different browsers on computers; this means that only one identifier per user would exist for all devices used by them – such as desktops, laptops, tablets, etc.
In addition, browsing data lives within each browser rather than being sent individually through what could otherwise become cumbersome if not impossible web traffic levels.
What makes FLoC uniquely different from a third-party cookie?
Third-party trackers collect your browsing history (including visited websites). Web browsers can store third-party data about a website visit for six months to two years.
Marketers use ad serving platforms to manage digital advertising campaigns, which use third-party cookies to track users’ browsing activities. Ad platforms will use this information to serve you targeted ads.
The key takeaway from a privacy standpoint is that users’ individual browsing histories will no longer be shared. So instead of publishers being able to ‘follow’ people as they jump from website to website, the data stays with FLoC and isn’t available for advertisers or Google in any way.
Advertisers could previously use this information about what sites they often visit when deciding which ads would work best on your device, but now it’s gone!
Google ads have policies and reviews to ensure that discrimination does not occur. Still, because FLoC is a product of Chrome – not Google Ads- it’s important to remember that data for other ad managers would be powered by the tool.
Why should marketers care about Google FLoC?
Google’s initial trials of FLoC found that it performed similarly to In-Market and Affinity audiences. The hope is now for advertisers who are used to the performance they have seen before, so there will be no drop in quality when using this new materialized audience.
Google’s privacy sandbox website offers information about the initiatives it is looking into to provide service users peace of mind regarding their data. Despite being in development, FLoC could evolve based on user experience and feedback due to its open-source nature.
Marketers need to know that while the other browser vendors might block third-party cookies, they will have possible new problems. Google is trying various solutions, including FLoC for marketer’s ad technologies not reaching worse ones.
With Google’s recent announcement that Chrome will be the first browser to allow for FLoC, it seems unlikely that this won’t eventually become a standard.
If and when FLoC does become a standard, chances are it’ll largely happen because of sheer market share – both within the browser market (Chrome) and ad tech markets (Google).
This leaves advertisers with an interesting dilemma — should they abandon their current strategies in favor of those designed around better targeting?
The answer is not clear yet, but as more browsers adopt FLoC, we’ll undoubtedly know more soon enough. In the meantime, if you like what you’ve read here, please subscribe to our blog so that you can stay up-to-date!