Google is "very confident" about alternatives to third-party cookies

Google is “very confident” about alternatives to third-party cookies

In the latest update of its plans to replace third-party cookies for advertising, Google said tests on a particular proposal looked promising.

Google has planned to share some new findings showing the effectiveness of its “Federated Learning of Cohorts” proposal which is part of the “Privacy Sandbox” for Chrome in a blog post running on Monday. “Sandbox” is Launched in 2019 To find cookie alternatives while mitigating the impact on publishers and other players. In Google’s words, it was a matter of finding a solution that protected user privacy and allowed content to remain freely available on the open web.

It wasn’t long after the Google initiative was announced He said it would finish Support for third-party cookies, which feed much of the digital advertising system, in their Chrome browser within two years of January 2020.

Chrome Engineers have been working With the broader industry, including the W3C Web Standards Organization, on Sandbox ideas proposed by Google and other advertising technology players. Google says what it results in is moving forward with a number of these ideas.

“That’s one suggestion,” Chetna Bendra, Group Product Manager for User Trust and Privacy at Google, told CNBC of the progress of FLoC. “It’s not a final or single suggestion to replace third-party cookies … there won’t be a single final API going forward, and a set of them will allow for things like interest-based ads, as well as benchmarking use cases, where it’s essential to be able to To ensure that advertisers can measure the effectiveness of their ads. ”

Bindra said the company was “very confident” about the progress of proposals and tests so far.

Monday’s Google post says test results show that FLoC (pronounced like a flock of birds, in line with a number of proposals addressing the issue of birds such as “Turtledove” and “Swallow”) is “an effective, privacy-focused alternative signal for third-party cookies.” It says advertisers can expect to see at least 95% of conversions for every dollar spent compared to cookie-based ads.

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FLoC will group people based on similar browsing behaviors, which means that only Group IDs and not individual user IDs will be used to target them. Web history and algorithm input will be preserved in the browser, as the browser only displays a “group” of thousands of people.

“We really see one of Sandbox’s early interest-based advertising technologies almost as effective as third-party cookies,” Bendra said. “There are definitely a lot of tests coming. We are very keen to get our advertisers and advertising technology involved directly.”

These groups, Bindra said, which could include people who have behaviors like gardening or rocking, will still allow targeting based on those interests. Instead of targeting at the individual level, this would target groups.

“The difference would be in the fact that now they no longer track every user across the web. There is really a concept of privacy for those users who are now grouped into a group,” Bendra said.

She added that the numbers from FLoC tests should be reassuring to publishers. Chrome will then make beta groups available for public testing with its next release in March, and it is expected to begin testing FLoC-based groups with advertisers in Google Ads in the second quarter, as stated in the blog post.

Miles Younger, Senior Director, Global Data Practice at MightyHive, said all of Sandbox’s proposals revolve around “how we can create new features in the Chrome web browser to solve the user privacy and third-party cookie death issue while maintaining brands’ ability to advertise effectively. “. Speak before publishing recent Google results.

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One of the questions is whether players will actually use it.

He said, “I’m not sure it’s something Google can just turn a switch and turn on.” Publishers should use it. People have to start using this system. [Google] He needs to prove his success. ”

CafeMedia chief strategist Paul Bannister said that advertisers and publishers have some fear of the unknown because it has to do with what comes next.

“I think we all want to believe that this will be good and we all want to get to a place where users have more privacy and the web is better,” he said. But given the complexity of the process and its technology, it’s unclear what will really happen next.

He said there is some fear that these types of measures could benefit the “walled gardens” of companies like Facebook, and aside from advertising on the open internet.

The UK’s antitrust authorities also have an eye on the plans and They are investigating Whether Chrome’s third-party cookie removal plan might harm online advertising competition. The Competition and Markets Authority is studying whether Google’s plans may push advertisers to shift spending to Google’s proprietary tools at the expense of its competitors.

In an email response, Bindra said, “Privacy Sandbox has been an open initiative from the start and we welcome the participation of CMA as we develop new proposals to support a healthy, ad-supported web without third-party cookies.”

Some privacy advocates are also skeptical of the “FLoC” approach. Electronic Frontier Foundation Books in 2019 That these groups can be used in harmful ways, allowing discriminatory advertisers to identify and filter groups that represent vulnerable populations.

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“The herd name will basically be a behavioral credit score: A tattoo on your digital forehead provides a brief summary of who you are, what you like, where you go, what you buy, and who you are related to,” EFF team technologist Bennett Cypher wrote in the blog post. “Flock names will likely be obscure to users, but they may reveal incredibly sensitive information to third parties.”

Whether machine learning will create clusters based on health issues, low income status, or other sensitive features is a question for some.

“You would probably do very scary things and they could be said to be illegal,” Bannister said. “How will Chrome protect against this?”

Google said in the documents that its analysis assessed whether a group might be sensitive without knowing the cause of its sensitivity, and said that groups that reveal “sensitive categories” such as race, gender, or personal difficulties have been blocked or clustering algorithms have been reconfigured to reduce the association.

Google added that it conflicts with its policies for serving personalized ads to these sensitive categories.

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