Google offers new replacement for advertising cookies after ‘FLOC’ fails

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The Google LLC logo is seen at their office in Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S., November 17, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

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Jan 25 (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc Google announced on Tuesday its second attempt to allow advertisers to buy ads based on users’ browsing interests without having to rely on what it described such as privacy-invasive tracking cookies.

Google wants to block tracking cookies in its Chrome web browser by the end of next year, which would prevent advertising companies from logging the websites someone visits. Advertisers, website owners and privacy groups have all sounded the alarm over the planned transition, and complaints have led antitrust authorities in the US, UK and elsewhere to watch near Google’s plans.

Online ad buyers and sellers evaluate cookie successors. Options include tracking users by asking for their email addresses to access websites or adopting new technologies that Google, Mozilla and other browser makers may integrate into their software.

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Google’s initial solution, known as Federated Learning of Cohorts, or FLoC, aimed to continuously group people into large, algorithmically designed baskets based on the websites users visited over the past week. Advertisers could show ads in a favorite basket, but they would not know the people in it or the interests they share in common.

But in tests last year, some advertisers found FLoC less effective than cookies at choosing which users to target and the system risked exposing an individual’s browsing history, Vinay Goel told Reuters. , chief product officer of Google.

Companies in the $250 billion global online display advertising industry fear the loss of cookies will make them more dependent on buying ads on Google and Facebook because of their large user databases.

The new navigation system, called Topics, groups each user into up to 15 baskets from around 350 human-made choices, such as “fitness” and “travel”, based on three weeks of browsing. Advertisers will see up to three baskets per user when deciding whether or not to show an ad to that individual.

Goel said browsing is only tracked on websites that enable topics, and users can unlink from a topic or opt out of the technology altogether. Testing will begin in a few months, he said.

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Reporting by Paresh Dave; edited by Richard Pullin

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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