The American corporation Google announced that it would become more difficult for companies to track user behavior for targeted advertising with the end of support for third-party cookies. This was announced in a blog post by David Temkin, a Google product manager focused on privacy. Simply put, the tech giant will stop selling web ads to users based on their browsing history.
“We continue to get questions about whether Google will join others in the ad tech industry who plan to replace third-party cookies with alternative user-level identifiers. Today, we're making 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,” David Temkin said.
Instead, the tech giant will use new privacy technologies, which still allow advertisers to understand how people behave, but do not collect information about each of them individually.
Citing the results of a study by the Pew Research Center, Google reported that 81% of users believe that the potential risks from collecting information outweigh the positives. At the same time, 72% of users said they feel like all their actions are being monitored. Therefore, Google decided to give up this practice within two years.
Google announced plans to eliminate cookies in January last year. The killing of cookies means that the Google Chrome browser will stop tracking the actions of specific users. The browser will not be able to identify individuals when they browse the web.
Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari browsers have already blocked third-party cookies, making Chrome the last popular browser to allow advertisers to monitor user activity to target the ads. Google has previously opted out of banning cookies due to a potential reduction in ad revenue, which brings the company almost $150 billion per year. However, now the company is consulting with advertisers and users to find new ways to customize ads.
“Users are demanding greater privacy--including transparency, choice and control over how their data is used--and it's clear the web ecosystem needs to evolve to meet these increasing demands,” said Justin Schuh, Chrome Development Director, in a blog post.
Google has already announced the effectiveness of a technology called Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) to replace cookies. As a result of tests, the company found that the effectiveness of FLoC is only 5% less than that of cookies.
Instead of collecting data indirectly through browsers or websites, FLoC uses machine learning algorithms to analyze user behavior. The technology is not intended to identify a specific person, it is used to assign a user to a specific group. Therefore, FLoC transmits data to advertisers not about a particular user, but about the audience, ensuring the confidentiality of information.
As a result, user data remains confidential and is not shared with anyone, and advertisers receive information about a broad audience that they can use to target advertisements.
FLoC is used as a browser extension in Google Chrome. This technology is part of Google's Privacy Sandbox initiative to phase out cookies. Google has other cookie replacement projects as well, so there is no guarantee that FLoC will be the final solution.
Google's embrace of a privacy-first web comes as the tech industry is faced with privacy concerns from lawmakers and consumers over abuses of user data. Currently, Google faces three major antitrust lawsuits.