google tracking

In a move to protect user privacy, Google on Wednesday announced a major change in the way its online advertising model would work going forward.

The search giant said that it plans to stop selling ads based on people’s browsing histories and tracking users across the internet once it begins implementing a new system for targeting ads without the use of so-called “cookies.” 

Earlier this month, Google had announced that it is planning to phase out support for third-party cookies in the widely used Chrome browser within the next two years. It had also earlier unveiled its plans to release a “privacy sandbox” to replace the use of “cookies.” Privacy sandbox has been designed to allow advertisers to target ads based on people’s interests without invading their privacy. 

Google confirmed that once third-party cookies are phased out by 2022, it would neither build nor use any alternative user-level identifiers in its products to track individuals as they browse across the web. 

“If digital advertising doesn’t evolve to address the growing concerns people have about their privacy and how their personal identity is being used, we risk the future of the free and open web,” David Temkin, Google’s Director of Product Management for Ads Privacy and Trust, wrote in a blog post.

“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 clarified that while other competitors may build alternative user-level identifiers such as PII graphs based on people’s email addresses, the company doesn’t believe these solutions will meet rising consumer expectations for privacy, nor will they stand up to rapidly evolving regulatory restrictions. Therefore, these aren’t sustainable long term investment. 

Instead, Google’s web products in the future would be powered by privacy-preserving APIs which will prevent individual tracking while still delivering results for advertisers and publishers. 

“Advances in aggregation, anonymization, on-device processing and other privacy-preserving technologies offer a clear path to replacing individual identifiers. In fact, our latest tests of FLoC show one way to effectively take third-party cookies out of the advertising equation and instead hide individuals within large crowds of people with common interests. 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 added.

“This points to a future where there is no need to sacrifice relevant advertising and monetization in order to deliver a private and secure experience.”

Temkin pointed out that the company will continue to support first-party relationships on its ad platforms for partners, in which they can have direct connections with their own customers.

It will also deepen their support for solutions that build on these direct relationships between consumers and the brands and publishers they engage with.