No more cookies at Google? The company promises to no longer track individual users

Google wants to reassure: soon, it will be over parades of pubs in the middle of the search engine during the sales. The Californian giant will no longer individually track Internet users once it has abandoned third-party “cookies”, these tracers that allow it to sell ultra-personalized advertising space, but which bristle the defenders of data confidentiality. The online search giant announced Wednesday, March 3, that it will test its new audience group-based ad targeting system with select advertisers starting in the second quarter of 2021.

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So-called third-party cookies are small text files that collect data as you browse, and are used to target users with highly personalized ads. They pose confidentiality issues. Synonyms for continuous tracking, they inspire growing rejection, to the point that Europe and California, in particular, have adopted laws to better protect the confidentiality of personal information.

Towards more collective tracking

“Today we are explicitly saying that once third party cookies are deleted, we will not build alternative identifiers to track individuals when they are surfing the web, nor will we use them in our products.”David Temkin, head of advertising products and privacy at Google, said in a statement. The Californian group is working on a different system, supposed to improve privacy.

Instead of targeting Internet users individually, advertisers will target audience segments – the “FLoCs” – comprising hundreds or thousands of people. Google will define these segments based on user navigation. “Individuals will be hidden in crowds of people who share the same interests”, detailed David Temkin.

Regain the confidence of Internet users

Google is expected to earn 116.7 billion net advertising revenue in 2021 (+ 18.4% over one year), or nearly 30% of this market, according to the firm eMarketer. With its neighbor Facebook, the two companies have imposed the economic model of large platforms that provide free services against the more or less explicit collection of information from their users. David Temkin acknowledged that “The proliferation of personal data between thousands of companies, generally collected by third-party cookies” led to a “Erosion of trust”. The senior official even cites a study by the Pew Research Center, according to which more than 80% of Internet users consider that the potential risks of collecting their data outweigh the benefits.

“If digital advertising does not evolve to address people’s growing concerns about their privacy and how their personal identity is used, the future of the free and open web is threatened”, he added. A necessary awareness at a time when the Gafam (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft) are facing growing mistrust from the political and civic spheres.

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