Short answer: Because it sucks. But hey, what’s the point of being here if I’m not going to explain to you in an incredibly detailed and deep manner why an Advertising Strategy didn’t work, right? So today we’ll go deep diving into what’s up with Google Ads FLoCs, what are they, and most importantly, why aren’t their competitors trying to join them, according to this article.
So you must remember that a couple of months ago Google Ads started its journey trying to secure their users’ privacy as much as they could because they are really thoughtful people who care about the interwebs’ safety. Along with other initiatives, they figured out a smart move to make would be to ban everyone’s cookies except for their own, you know, because they are worthy of respecting people’s privacies. This third-parties cookie banning resulted in a search for new technologies and strategies to replace them.
So what did they come up with? These new Federal Learning of Cohorts, or FLoCs. FLoC, as their pun-intended name may suggest, are groups of people with similar interests. Basically what Google does is go through your browser history to find out what you are interested in, and then match you with people that are interested in the same things as you are. So much for originality and uniqueness, huh? Then they create these categories with their specific interests so you can target your Display Ads to them, depending on what you are trying to advertise.
So my first thought here is still today the same one I had the first time I learned about FLoCs: Aren’t they a lot less profitable? Yes, they absolutely are. In order to protect users’ privacy, Google created a bunch of generic categories for you to target even when they are one thousand times less accurate than old school cookies. So strategic Ad placement is now a very difficult thing to obtain, leading to incredibly ineffective Ads. Also, there’s a huge controversy on how private FLoCs actually are, because, if implemented incorrectly, there’s a really big chance to leak a lot (estimated amount: everyone who ever went to the browser) of sensitive information.
So, as we know, the advertising world tends to go in one of two ways: Either Google Ads does something and everyone copies them, or Google Ads does something and everyone else does the complete opposite. This case is the latter one. So spokespersons from Google’s main competitors (such as Brave, Vivaldi, Opera, Firefox, and even Microsoft Edge and Safari) opened up about the FLoC cookie and whether they’d implement it or not.
What they all agreed on was one thing: Google is forcing it on everyone not because of privacy reasons, because FLoCs are anything but private, but to gain for themselves. Most of them declared that they have no plans to enable the FLoC technology to their browsers, regardless of what Google lists as its benefits because it appears to be a really big potential harm for users that will likely be not beneficial at all.
Mozilla’s representative even said that not only they don’t have plans to implement this technology, but also believe that there is no need to obtain billions of data points about users that don’t even know what they are agreeing to share, just to help the development of the Advertising Industry. They also added that they are implementing a brand new technology that helps ban thousands of trackers a day in order to prevent users from having their privacies harmed. Their main idea is to find a solution for Display Ad campaigns to co-exist with user’s privacy.
Microsoft and Safari gave the same type of non-answering answers and said that the industry is always evolving and that, even when they don’t plan on implementing the FLoC technology at the moment, they are not at all dismissing the possibility of doing it in the future not so far away from now. Both of them also made points on their privacy policies and how they will always try to ensure their users’ safety.
So facing this situation, what most technology and marketing specialists say is that the industry is more and more leaning towards the complete eradication of third-party cookies in order to prevent anyone from being tracked across the web. So where will this cookiepocalypse (as everyone is calling it) get us eventually? Probably to a scenario where the Ad Industry, as Mozilla predicted, has to figure out new creative solutions in order to continue developing, targeting strategically, and being successful.
So, to conclude, as we know, the Display Ad industry is evolving, and the big technology giants are trying to evolve with it, while they also try to remain profitable and safe for their users. So facing that scenario, the big browsers must keep their minds open to new technologies and strategies in order to figure out which one will actually be the best for them, instead of just going around criticizing each other. However, as a person that loves good entertainment, I’m definitely satisfied with the current scenario, but I definitely hope that they all get to an agreement and find the best way to keep our beloved Advertising Industry profitable and growing.