How Google Will Target Ads Without Singling Users Out
A handful of new standards will personalize ads without the privacy violations of today
The internet is about to experience a dramatic shift toward privacy.
To be clear, Google will continue to track users within its own platforms and use that information to target ads. But it’s making it more difficult for sites to show advertisements based on your individual browsing history outside of the Googleverse.
One such method would create groups of users with similar interests, allowing advertisers to target groups of people without pinpointing any individual. It would also keep data on your devices: Instead of allowing companies to track you across every website, Google’s Chrome browser would generate an anonymous profile of your interests and use it to request an appropriate advertisement for you.
To build a system like this, Google and its partners have constructed a series of new technologies under the banner of the privacy sandbox, which is advertised as a way of hiding individual users “in the crowd.” The privacy sandbox is no single technology but is instead a handful of new standards that would allow advertising to continue to exist and work similarly to today, without the gross privacy violations enabled by tracking cookies.
One of the most notable technologies in the privacy sandbox is a proposed web standard called federated learning of cohorts (FLoC). This is the standard that builds interest groups locally in the browser without ever sending individual data to a server. When a page wants to display an ad, it would request one based on the cohort the user has been placed in — rather than their specific browsing history.
Another proposed standard, FLEDGE, would allow advertisers to create “custom…