Google's FLoC: What Marketers Need to Know
Kutubkhan Bohari
May 7, 2023

Discover the essentials of Google's FLoC and its implications for marketers. Delve into key potential advantages and explores its implications as an innovative method for user tracking and targeting.

As online advertising continues to evolve, Google's Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) has emerged as a new ad targeting method. FLoC has generated a lot of buzz in the marketing industry as it aims to replace third-party cookies, which have been used for decades to track user behavior across the web. Learn about FLoC in detail, along with its potential impact on the advertising industry and what marketers need to know to prepare for the changes ahead.

What is FLoC?

FLoC is Google's new ad technology of ad targeting that is currently being tested. FLoC algorithms use machine learning to group users into cohorts based on their browsing behavior rather than tracking individuals through third-party cookies. Each cohort represents a group of users who have similar interests and behaviors, making it possible for advertisers to target them with relevant ads.
With FLoC tracking, each browser is assigned an ID that determines its group memberships, thereby eliminating the chances of overlap in IDs across different browsers on computers. As a result, only one identifier per user would exist for all devices they use, such as desktops, laptops, tablets, etc.
Leveraging FLoC’s browser API, advertisers can increase the relevance of their ads and potentially improve ad performance. It can also help reduce the reliance on third-party cookies, which are becoming less effective due to increased privacy regulations and user concerns about data tracking.

How FLoC works?

Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) works by analyzing a user's browsing history and grouping them into a cohort. Instead of tracking individual user data, FLoC analyzes the URLs a user visits and looks for patterns in their behavior. Once a user is assigned to a cohort, the cohort ID is shared with websites and advertisers. Advertisers can then target their ads to specific cohorts rather than individual users, providing a more privacy-conscious approach to ad targeting.
With cohorts, advertisers can target users with similar interests and behaviors, increasing the relevance of their ads and improving ad performance. FLoC also helps reduce the reliance on third-party cookies, which are becoming less effective due to increased privacy regulations and user concerns about data tracking.

What makes FLoC uniquely different from a third-party cookie?

One of the primary differences between FLoC and third-party cookies is the way they collect user data. Third-party cookies track individual user behavior across the web, while FLoC groups users into cohorts based on their browsing behavior. This indicates that the FLoC algorithm is based on patterns of behavior rather than tracking individual users, providing a more privacy-centric approach.
Another key difference is that FLoC is designed to be more transparent than third-party cookies. With third-party cookies, users are often unaware of how their data is being collected and used for ad targeting. In contrast, FLoC provides users with more control over their data, allowing them to opt out of cohort tracking if they choose.
Also, FLoC has the potential to provide more efficient ad targeting than third-party cookies. By grouping users into cohorts based on their behaviors and interests, FLoC allows advertisers to target their ads to specific groups of users rather than relying on individual user data. This can result in more relevant ads and better ad performance.

What do marketers need to know about FLoC?

Marketers need to understand that FLoC represents a significant change in the way that ads are targeted. As third-party cookies become less effective, FLoC can become the new standard for ad targeting. However, it's important to note that the FLoC algorithm is still in the testing phase, and needs to be made clear how it will be implemented.
Advertisers should also be aware that FLoC will require a new approach to ad targeting. As cohorts are based on user behavior rather than demographics, marketers may need to adjust their ad strategies to focus more on user intent and interests. Additionally, it may be necessary to work more closely with Google to ensure that ads are being targeted to the right cohorts.
They should comprehend that FLoC can aid them in targeting their ads to specific groups of users rather than relying on individual user data, resulting in more relevant ads and data-driven marketing decisions.

Why should marketers care about Google FLoC?

The initial trials of FLoC conducted by Google have demonstrated that it performs similarly to the existing In-Market and Affinity audiences. This is significant as it indicates that FLoC is a viable alternative to the traditional third-party cookie-based ad targeting system. Advertisers who are familiar with the performance of In-Market and Affinity audiences can be certain that FLoC will offer comparable results.
One of the key benefits of FLoC is its open-source nature, meaning that the technology can be improved based on user experience and feedback. As FLoC evolves and improves, it has the potential to become an even more effective ad-targeting method.
Google has also recognized the growing concern among users regarding data privacy and has launched its privacy sandbox initiative. This aims to provide users with more control over their data while still allowing for effective ad targeting. Google’s Privacy Sandbox initiative is an ongoing effort, and FLoC is just one of the many initiatives that the organization is exploring.
Marketers must be aware that while other browser vendors may block third-party cookies, new challenges may arise. Google is exploring various solutions, including FLoC, to ensure that marketers’ ad technologies are not negatively impacted by these changes.

The Future Ahead

Google's Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) technology will continue to play an increasingly important role in the world of digital advertising. As third-party cookies continue to face increasing scrutiny and limitations, FLoC represents a promising solution that is more privacy-conscious and user-friendly.
With growing advancement and evolution in technology, FLoC is likely to become even more accurate and effective in its ad targeting capabilities. This will be especially beneficial for marketers who are seeking new and innovative ways to reach their target audiences while still respecting user privacy.
As marketers continue to navigate the rapidly-evolving digital landscape, staying informed about the latest industry developments and adopting new technologies will be essential to remain competitive. By embracing FLoC and other privacy-focused solutions, marketers can create more effective and user-friendly ad-targeting strategies that resonate with today's digital consumers.