Google to begin testing interest-based user tracking

Google to begin testing interest-based user tracking (REUTERS)

A year after its decision to phase out third-party cookies that store user information when people browse websites on Chrome, Google on Wednesday said that it will not build alternate identifiers to track individuals. The decision is taken to protect user privacy.

“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. We don’t believe these solutions will meet rising consumer expectations for privacy, nor will they stand up to rapidly evolving regulatory restrictions, and therefore aren’t a sustainable long-term investment,” said David Temkin, director of product management, Ads Privacy and Trust at Google in a blog post.

The company, which relies heavily on digital advertising using user data, said that it will not track individual level data like personally identifiable information (PII) graphs based on people’s email addresses. Instead, it will build web products which will be powered by privacy-preserving APIs which prevent individual tracking while still delivering results for advertisers and publishers. It simply means that Google will have cohort level data on users based on their browsing behaviour and interests.

“People shouldn’t have to accept being tracked across the web in order to get the benefits of relevant advertising. And advertisers don’t need to track individual consumers across the web to get the performance benefits of digital advertising,” Temkin noted.

Google said that advances in aggregation, anonymization, on-device processing and other privacy-preserving technologies offer a clear path to replacing individual identifiers. In 2020, the company proposed interest-based advertising called Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) under which it was proposed that groups of people with common interests could replace individual identifiers.

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“Chrome intends to make FLoC-based cohorts available for public testing through origin trials with its next release this month, and we expect to begin testing FLoC-based cohorts with advertisers in Google Ads in Q2. Chrome also will offer the first iteration of new user controls in April and will expand on these controls in future releases, as more proposals reach the origin trial stage, and they receive more feedback from end users and the industry,” Temkin said.

Google also emphasized that it will provide support for solutions to develop first-party relationships on its ad platforms for partners, in which they have direct connections with customers.

The search giant which dominate digital advertising spends globally including India admitted that using user data has led to an erosion of trust. Quoting a study by US based think tank Pew Research Center, it said that 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.

Noting that it is a confirmation that the cohort-based model (FLoC) is what Google will advance ahead Unny Radhakrishnan as chief executive of its digital agency Digitas India said that it will impact many of the third-party optimisation tools.

“… we need to wait and see how the re-calibration will happen. Also, we are yet to understand the how the various identity resolution technologies and media will work together. With such developments ‘context’ in media planning might be coming back as well,” he added.

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This article is sourced from livemint

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