Google Plans to Stop Selling Ads Based on Browsing History

Google has announced a drastic shift in the way it will manage digital ads—a fundamental change in the company’s business model that’s likely to transform the digital marketing industry. For many years, digital advertisers have targeted ads based on users’ browsing activity, but the tech giant is going to stop selling ads that rely on technology that identifies and tracks individual web users as they move from one website to another. The experts from Saba SEO, one of the leading digital marketing companies in San Diego, explain what you need to know about how this change will work so you can plan your digital marketing strategies accordingly.

In a blog post announcing the change, David Temkin, Google’s director of product management, ads privacy, and trust, wrote, “People shouldn’t have to accept being tracked across the web in order to get the benefits of relevant advertising. 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.” 

Alternative Methods for Targeting Ads

Google says it will switch to using newly developed forms of technology (what the company calls a “privacy sandbox”) that still allow marketers to target ads without having to collect information about individuals’ activity across multiple websites. The search giant is planning to use privacy-protecting technology that analyzes the browsing habits of groups of users who have similar interests, or “cohorts,” instead of collecting data on individual users. To deliver relevant ads, Google will shift from using cookies and similar tracking methods to employing tools such as Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC), which is often referred to as “interest-based advertising.” Temkin explained, “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.” The company expects to roll out FLoC-based advertising to Google Ads later this year.

Impact on Digital Marketing

Google’s planned change has prompted some concern in the digital marketing industry. According to Jounce Media, a digital ad consultancy, approximately 40 percent of the money spent on digital advertising outside closed systems (such as Google Search, Facebook, and YouTube) goes to Google’s ad buying tools. Many companies depend on being able to track individuals’ browsing activity to target ads and measure their effectiveness, but with Google’s change, marketers will no longer have access to this kind of detailed information. Even so, some industry professionals are saying the change will benefit consumers and are optimistic about the potential of Google’s new targeting technologies to continue to enable brands to achieve their online marketing goals.

Limits to the Change

There are some limits to Google’s latest change. For example, it won’t apply to “first party” data companies collect directly from customers. In addition, Google says the changes only cover its ad tools and unique identifiers for websites. Mobile apps, which consumers are using with increasing frequency, won’t be included, so a significant portion of digital marketing practices won’t be affected. 

This revolutionary change in Google’s operation can have a huge impact on digital marketing and search engine optimization. At Saba SEO, we know how important it is to stay on top of the latest developments in online marketing, which is just one of the many reasons we’re one of the top digital marketing agencies in San Diego. Web design, SEO, social media marketing, and pay-per-click management are just a few of our specialties. To schedule an appointment, give us a call today at 858-277-1717.