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Changes to Google could be approaching, as the company considers moving away from their cohort-based advertising and instead focus on a topic-oriented system. A significant impact for targeting methods on Google could be heading our way. 

What’s happening to FLoC?

Google Privacy Sandbox has revealed what the potential next steps are for Google and its targeting methods. 

One area that may see a change is FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts). 

FLoC is a web tracking service that groups users into cohorts. These cohorts are based on factors such as browsing history and what individuals are googling. 

Due to growing concerns surrounding privacy online, Google wants to move away from cohort IDs and instead focus on a topic-based algorithm.

For example, instead of assigning individuals specific IDs, Google’s algorithms will sort users into topics such as “marketing” or “advertisement”. 

Tests related to these changes concluded on July 13th, and Google is now awaiting feedback from all you web-wizards out there before launching further updates and trials. 

A tech-lead manager of the Google Privacy Sandbox team, Josh Karlin, provided some insight as to what’s coming for Google’s browser system. Though not set in stone, he laid out the undecided developments:  

  • Google may assign a website topic based on the interests reflected by who visits in a week. 
  • Topics would come from a shorter, public and standardised list corresponding with the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s content taxonomy
  • Karlin developed on this, stating, “Say, 256 topics as opposed to the roughly 30,000 cohorts.” 
  • Additionally, people could choose to opt-in and out of topics assigned to them, leading to more control on the users part. 

What do these changes to FLoC mean for you? 

As Digiday reports, advertising agencies and tech providers were intercepting cohort IDs, analysing their benefits concerning existing user profiles, leading to better accuracy in detecting people’s identities. 

If the updates to FLoC become fully integrated, the ability to search for users and their behavioural patterns will become challenging to monitor due to the broadness of the topics. 

The changes to FLoC are not the first instance of a large company honing down on privacy concerns. Recently, Apple announced new privacy features for its emailing service, impacting Open Rate marketing on its platform. You can read our blog about this situation here

Right now, Google’s best interest is to make sure FLoC works for all parties. Its revenue comes from advertisers, so the most crucial priority is to find a way advertisers can keep doing what they do best when targeting users. 

However, as mentioned beforehand, these changes are only being considered and are not currently how things work on Google. It’s another spooky privacy story to tell around the marketing campfire.  

Don’t panic! Arke will update you with any news we hear through the grapevine. In the meantime, if you want more information on how FLoC currently works or are looking to boost your marketing methods at the peak of online privacy, contact our expert team now. 

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