Advertisers say Google’s FLoC testing was limited and they barely got to try it. “There was no clear roadmap. There hasn’t been any meaningful testing,” says Ellie Bamford, senior vice president and global head of media at R/GA.
Bamford says one of the privacy downsides of FLoC seemed to be that internet users couldn’t opt out of “cohorts” assigned to them. “Nobody even answered if you could self-opt out when you’re assigned to a cohort, and that makes people nervous,” Bamford says. “These are all my concerns, and they have not been tested.”
Several agency executives say Google’s mixed signals about abandoning cookies and adopting FLoC show its haphazard approach. In its blog post, Google said it would be more transparent about testing and rolling out its replacements for the cookie.
“We received substantial feedback from the web community during the original testing of the first version of FLoC,” Google said in its announcement Thursday. “We expect to wrap up this original trial in the coming weeks and incorporate feedback, before moving on to further ecosystem testing.”
Google is in a tough spot as it must appease regulators, lawmakers, brands, web publishers, ad tech partners, and consumers who demand privacy. Google made nearly $150 billion in digital ad revenue in 2020 and controls more than 25% of the internet advertising market, according to eMarketer. More than 2 million websites, from large media companies to small publishers, use Google Ads to manage their ad inventory and sell space in Google’s auctions. Any change to Google’s advertising technology has wide-ranging implications for all stakeholders.
Ad Technology Solutions
The ad tech industry is busy promoting its own suite of solutions, like LiveRamp’s authenticated traffic solution and The Trade Desk’s Unified ID 2.0. Google’s decision gave them some padding to go on.
“We appreciate Google’s decision to give the industry more time to prepare, but the extended deadline does not change or impact Criteo’s strategy in any way,” a Criteo spokesperson said in a statement. .
“The delay will give industry stakeholders more time to scale privacy-conscious addressability approaches that deliver lasting benefits,” The Trade Desk wrote in a blog post discussing the decision. from Google.
Andrew Casale, president and CEO of advertising marketplace Index Exchange, was less lenient with Google. “It is necessary to tear off the bandage,” says Casale. “No matter how long we win, nobody will feel ready. But the lack of preparation currently seems beyond the bare minimum.”