Does Google's FLoC alternative to third-party cookies make any sense?

by WarriorForum.com Administrator
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Marketing Land asks if the battery of addressability alternatives becomes too confusing, will contextual advertising resurge?



Google Chrome will deprecate third-party cookies very soon, and possible alternatives to preserve addressability are being floated, with some initiatives springing from Chrome's Privacy Sandbox. But are these alternatives, and the many others being proposed by adtech and data vendors, compelling to marketers? This is what GitHub's Web Incubator Community Group had to say about defining a FLoC:

"The browser uses machine learning algorithms to develop a cohort based on the sites that an individual visits. The algorithms might be based on the URLs of the visited sites, on the content of those pages, or other factors. The central idea is that these input features to the algorithm, including the web history, are kept local on the browser and are not uploaded elsewhere -- the browser only exposes the generated cohort. The browser ensures that cohorts are well distributed so that each represents thousands of people."
What is generated, in other words, is an addressable cohort of anonymous users which is not uploaded (or sold or traded). That's the idea, anyway. This approach isn't risk-free: it does involve tracking and data collection. The author spoke with some experts in order to find out more. Michael Schoen is SVP and GM Marketing Solutions at Neustar. Last year, Neustar launched its own alternative approach to identifiers -- not a solution, but a collection of strategies it calls Fabrick:

"FLoC is going to continue to develop into a couple of related proposals. Already there's been an evolution that is referred to as Fledge, which is very similar. Slight technical differences, but to the layperson, they're going to look pretty much the same. They're a family of solutions that leverage techniques that come from differential privacy to allow useful insights to come from data that only gets exposed in an aggregate way."
Schoen says that, essentially, these are techniques for creating look-alike audiences:

"The early results that Google has shared are promising. You need to consider those results with a couple of teaspoons of salt, because often they're done in comparison with completely untargeted advertising -- and no-one does completely untargeted advertising online. The reality is, marketers don't care what individual users are doing, they care that their marketing dollards are used effectively. What Google has shared as an update is reflective of them making some progress towards their aspiration. They want to ensure that the use cases for the third-party cookie that marketers care about have some form of adequate replacement before the third-party cookie goes away. The PeLICAn prospoal was similar to FLoC. We're optimistic it will end up being part of the Privacy Sandbox solution set."
What's the advantage of FLoC over some precise and refined form of contextual advertising? Where reasonable assumptions can be made, for instance, about the properties of the cohort following football news or searching for camping equipment?

"There are clearly some products that have a natural affinity with content, although I continue to believe we'll see a resurgence of contextual targeting because of these changes. But there are some products that don't have a natural affinity to specific pieces of content; a lot of CPG goods do not necessarily have an obvious correlation to consumers of sports or news content, etc. There may end up being a correlation, but the correlation is not obvious to begin with."
Schoen adds that the need for look-alikes is all about extending reach:

"There literally may not be enough ad placements alongside, say, American football content, so to identify those consumers when they're consuming other entertainment content can still be useful. The precise use case for third-party cookies has been to enable targeting of consumers of a specific type of content in a different context. "With FLoC you're going to see something similar, you just do it in a way that is more opaque."
Patrick O'Leary is the founder and CEO at boostr, an enterprise software company that makes solutions for the sell-side of the ad industry, including pure digital, out-of-home, broadcast and audio media:

"It has a lot of implications, like can you cross-device target somebody? The modern consumer has their phone and their desktop browser, and may be watching TV at the same time, and people have been trying to solve that consumer journey as they switch across devices. That's an important question about FLoC. Now we're unbundling. Does this just fit Chrome? What's going to happen on my Apple or Android device, on my Roku or set-top box? Verizon Media has announced they have an identity solution; the DSPs have identity solutions. If I'm an advertiser, I'm going to be confused and concerned that none of this is going to be interoperable."
O'Leary says publishers and advertisers are trying to understand this new identity environment and how they can use it:

"Will the money pull out of the market while everybody re-tools? There are a lot of unanswered questions on change management from Google. I'm a mountain biker. When I go to the mountain bike website, I appreciate the ads because they're products and companies I care about, in an environment where it makes sense. I don't want to be on the mountain bike website and see an ad for a diaper for my kid who grew out of diapers three years ago."
#alternative #cookies #floc #google’s #make #sense #thirdparty
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