Google targets the Privacy of the individual – blocking of third-party cookies on the way

14th May 2021

May we begin with this rather powerful quote from Google themselves, from their blog on 13 May 2021:

“Getting the most out of your marketing investments requires a clear understanding of what actions people take after interacting with your ads. In today’s evolving privacy landscape, growing your business calls for new approaches to measurement that preserve advertising performance and also put the user first”.

If you use the internet, and who doesn’t, then you are very familiar with being served various adverts and accepting (or declining) cookies whenever you visit a website.

With over 87% of the search market share (at the time of writing this blog), one hardly needs to introduce readers to Google. Google is essentially an advertising company, which makes money from tracking its users’ activities in order to serve them relevant adverts.

That is until early last year, in an effort to ‘build a more private web,’ Google announced that its Chrome browser would phase out the support of third-party cookies over two years. These are the cookies that companies leave in your browser when you visit a site so that they can target their marketing to you.

Just to be clear, this isn’t about first-party cookies – your own website will still be able to leave cookies if the user opts-in (so you can see where they have been on your site and for how long, etc.) – Google is talking about those third-party cookies from other companies that follow you around the web tracking your behaviour for advertisers to use.

Sound too good to be true? Well, privacy activists certainly think so and have launched an antitrust investigation. This has led to Google trying to gain trust by recently announcing an extra privacy move; no more individual tracking.

In a recent blog, Google’s Advertising Privacy Chief, David Temkin, wrote,

“Today, we’re making it explicit that once third-party cookies are phased out, we will not build alternate identifiers to track individuals as they browse across the web, nor will we use them in our products….. We realise this means other providers may offer a level of user identity for ad tracking across the web that we will not… (but) we don’t believe these solutions will meet rising consumer expectations for Privacy.”

Google’s new solution is The Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) which proposes a new way for businesses to reach people with relevant content and ads by clustering large groups of people with similar interests. This approach effectively hides individuals “in the crowd” and uses on-device processing to keep a person’s web history private on the browser.

Google has tested this privacy-first alternative to third-party cookies. Results indicate that when it comes to generating interest-based audiences, FLoC can provide an adequate replacement.   In fact, in a blog written by Chetna Bindra, Google’s Group Product Manager for User Trust and Privacy, they say that by utilising FLoC, marketers can expect “at least 95% of the conversions per dollar spent when compared to cookie-based advertising”.

So it could be good news all round.  Or is it indeed too good to be true?  Only time will tell, and this rollout is still only in its infancy. (Although don’t forget that Safari and Firefox already block third-party cookies, so this isn’t entirely new).  What we do know with absolute certainty though, is that Privacy is very high on the agenda of one of the world’s largest corporations.

As a marketer, you must stay ahead of the curve and understand how any further privacy legislation or governance decisions affect your current strategies.  Do you need to pivot?  Are your strategies going to be inoperable?  What can you still do? What can’t you do?

How can Griffin House support your compliance online?

Our level 2 Marketing and the Law, Foundation Course in Data Protection is for individuals involved in (or who are responsible for) marketing within your organisation. This certified course explores the essential elements of both data protection and privacy legislation, applying these directly to your organisation’s marketing activities in order to minimise any potential legal hiccups in the context of the ever-changing landscape of individual privacy rights.

How the course can benefit your online marketing compliance:

  • Legally compliant marketing campaigns
  • Enabling you to legally and effectively target customers with personalised messages
  • Empower your team with knowledge
  • An awareness of responsibilities gives rise to greater data protection and Privacy
  • Strengthen brand & client trust
  • Best practice marketing methods that do not damage your organisation’s reputation
  • Clarity and Peace of Mind
  • Know that you are on the right side of the regulations when you communicate with potential customers

This hugely beneficial course is run over 7 hours, either online through three separate sessions or in-person delivered over a single day. If you would like to find out more about how we can help you to stay within the law when marketing both on and offline, contact us today.

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