Google pledging to cease selling your search history to advertisers

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FLoC-based ads places people in groups so that the community is targeted rather than the individual.

Google expressly states that it will not develop an alternative monitoring system as cookies are phased out in two years. It maintains that, in the future, it focuses on more privacy-friendly forms for marketers to deliver relevant advertising to users. FLoC-based ads and user controls are the first steps to provide more private browsing experience.


Google announced on Wednesday that it would stop selling targeted ads based on your browsing history. The search giant has relied on data mainly gathered through third-party cookies to provide users with ads relevant to their tastes and interests. However, this has led to an “erosion of trust” that the company feels needs to be addressed.

“In fact, 72% of people feel that almost all of what they do online is being tracked by advertisers, technology firms or other companies, and 81% say that the potential risks they face because of data collection outweigh the benefits,” said Google’s Director of Product Management David Temkin, citing a Pew Research Center study. “If digital advertising doesn’t evolve to address the growing concerns people have about their privacy and how their personal identity is being used, we risk the future of the free and open web. ”

In January, Google unveiled a proposal to phase out cookies over the next two years. Temkin emphasised that once cookies are out of date, they will not create “alternate identifiers.” The organisation realises that, initially, conventional monitoring approaches would be provided by competitors. However, Google claims that these will not last long as individual issues increase and privacy laws begin to tighten up around the world.

Google doesn’t intend to sit back and watch this happen. Future web-based products can use “Privacy-preserving APIs.” Both consumers and marketers will benefit from newer privacy-focused technologies.


“Advances in aggregation, anonymization, on-device processing, and other privacy-preserving technologies offer a clear path to replacing individual identifiers,” Temkin said.

Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) is a technology that Google has been experimenting to use instead of tracking cookies. In short, FLoC puts users into large communities with common interests, essentially hiding individuals in the crowd. To date, studies have shown a 95-percent conversion rate compared to third-party cookies. Google has released a white paper on GitHub if you’re interested.

Public FLoC testing will start later this month with the next version of the Chrome browser. Google Ads integration is expected to come sometime in the second quarter. In April, Chrome will launch its “first version” of user controls with more to come pending end-user input and industry feedback.

Image credit: Stefano Garau

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