Do you ever visit a site to look at a pair of shoes, only to find that every other website later starts advertising that exact pair of shoes? That̵
Google announced the change today in a company blog that clarified its stance on third-party cookies. It wants third-party cookies to disappear, and it doesn’t want to replace the system with an equivalent that keeps tracking you around the web. If you’re having a hard time visiting YouTube just to see ads for the headphones you previously wanted to buy, you’re not alone.
In its blog post, Google says the practice has “ eroded trust: In fact, 72% of people feel that almost everything they do online is being tracked by advertisers, technology companies or other companies, and 81% say the potential risks they face as a result of data collection outweigh the benefits. That’s why it plans to block third-party cookies in Chrome soon, something Firefox and Safari are already doing.
But the question was, will Google just replace the third-party cookies with something that achieves the same effect? But that is not the case. Google says it won’t help businesses track you individually. But it will still follow you, to group you with like-minded individuals. If you regularly visit woodworking sites, Google will put you in a large woodworking group and LEGO fans will be in a similar group, and so on.
Interest-based advertising is already common and used by Google, Facebook and other advertising companies, and Google is adopting FLOC. The idea is that you will have more personal privacy, even if the companies keep learning all about you to properly group you. You don’t know the whole world, just a few selected companies.
Google still knows as much about you as it did in the past, but other companies benefiting from the ad program won’t. That way, Google promises you more privacy, but it’s not very promising to stop learning everything about you. You will see fewer laser-targeted ads for a specific item you were browsing. And more general ads for the types you like.
However, Google’s move won’t completely end laser-targeted ads. If you visit a site, create an account, and browse the items, that company can still load your information as a list to places like Facebook to serve accurately targeted ads.
Advertising does not disappear; the internet economy and free websites (like Review Geek) rely too heavily on those dollars to give up. But with these changes, the nature of how you are tracked will change. We do not yet know whether that is a positive change or not.