Recently, Google dropped the bombshell announcement that they will not be replacing 3rd Party Cookie with alternate ID, and what in place is Privacy Sandbox initiative with proposal, called “Federated Learning of Cohorts,” (FLoC), which would essentially put people into groups based on similar browsing behaviors and allow targeting based on various groups.

This not-another-Google-bashing article is to discuss the implication and scenarios of audience targeting and retargeting with Dynamic Creative Optimisation (DCO) once 3rd party cookies are replaced with interest-based advertising (FLoC).

Essentially, Google’s flagship DV360 and Google Ads products provide 2 key features:

  • Google Audience Targeting – The ability to target Google Audience and making it free for advertisers to use is one of key advantages of DV360/Google Ads have over other DSP, and these audiences include: InMarket Audience, (e.g., Home & Garden Serviccs, Trip to Australia) Affinity Audience (e.g., Performance & Luxury Vehicle Enthusiasts, Bargain Hunters) , Custom Intent Audience based on search keywords, and other demographics like Gender, Income and Age Group.
  • Floodlight, GA Audience – Ability to build Retargeting Audience using Floodlight or Google Analytics and setup both post-view and post clicks attribution for full funnel attribution.

If we refer to the Google Post, and it’s explicitly mentioned:

“Today, we’re making explicit that once third-party cookies are phased out, we will not build alternate identifiers to track individuals as they browse across the web, nor will we use them in our products,” the Google post said.

Well, let’s give Google the benefits of doubt and accepted that they will NOT be replacing Cookie ID with their own Gmail ID and create their own walled garden, which they certainly can if they want to. So instead, they will be using the same Privacy Sandbox and migrate to using FLOC.

Here are some pointers which I believe the product or Google Ecosystem will evolve:

  1. All Google Audience will be collected and segments under Privacy Sandbox – So good news to advertisers – all Affinity and InMarket Audience, Custom Audience will still be available in DV360 and Google Ads, but instead of Cookie-base, it will be based on Interest Group under FLoC proposal. So for e.g., if someone search “Personal loan with low interest”, it will be group under for e.g, “Intent – Personal Loan” Interest Group. This Interest Group will be owned by Google and make available for all DV360/Google Ads advertisers to bid on. The difference between the Interest Group and Cookie-base identity is that this Interest Group sit within User’s Chrome browser for 30 days and does not contain individual user ID.
  2. Any Advertisers or Publishers or 3rd Party Adtech vendor (On behalf of Publishers or Advertisers) can build their own interest group and make them available for targeting. For Advertisers, this will mean that Retargeting is still possible except that instead of targeting individual, it will target different interest group. Interest group can be created by Group Owner or by Site Owner, so basically for e.g., if you are an ecommerce advertiser selling shoes, you can create your own group, and assign users to a particular group. For e.g., user who browse running shoes will group under Interest Group “Running Shoes”. For actual implementation, I believe Google will continue to use Floodlight tag to do the job. And for other retargeters or DCO vendors like Adzymic, they can place their tag on Advertiser’s site as well to create Interest Group (As long as the Advertiser allows).

So what happened during actual bidding process for Dynamic Retargeting? – A scenario:

  1. Let say the same user who browse Running Shoes on Advertiser site visited CNN
  2. CNN will run an auction for this impression using some On-Device Auction at browser level.
  3. Because at DV360 end, you the Shoe Advertiser setup the retargeting campaign to target Interest Group under Running Shoes, you will participate in the bid.
  4. If you win the bid, it will make a call to the DCO vendor to serve the relevant creative by having the Interest Group ID passing in from DV360 to the DCO vendor and based on the matching interest group, the relevant Ads is served.

A caveat that the above scenario is still at experimentation stage (A new proposal under Fledge), and still couple of details to be sorted out. Google did a terrible job in explaining the whole Privacy Sandbox and the initiatives within to advertisers and agencies, but I’m pretty optimistic that come 2022, advertisers can continue to run their various audience targeting on their Google Platform.