In brief, FLoC stands for Federated Learning of Cohorts and refers to one of Google’s Privacy Sandbox Proposals, specifically aimed at improving ad relevance in view of the upcoming third-party cookie deprecation in Chrome.

What is FLoC?

In plain words, FLoC implies people’s automatic clustering based on their browsing behavior using on-device machine learning algorithms. 

According to Google, the technology is respectful of users’ privacy, mainly due to several reasons:

  • sharing of smaller volumes of data with advertisers, than in case with cookies;
  • substitution of the user-level with the cohort-level targeting;
  • processing of people’s browsing behavior data on-device.

Possible Downsides of FLoC

According to some experts, the implementation of FLoCs may lead to their misuse by “bad actors”, hence cause the exposure of users’ sensitive data, or even the descrimination of vulnerable groups of people, as a result.

Can FLoCs Substitute Cookies?

Since the FLoC tech implies the reduction of data processed and shared with advertisers and agencies, and more importantly, does NOT include all functional capabilities of cookies, like retargeting, by design, it can’t be perceived as a fully fledged substitute to cookies in any way.

Rather than that, FLoC offers allegedly a less privacy-intrusive, yet highly effective behavior targeting option to businesses on the Demand side. Namely, as the simulations run by Google Ads teams revealed, the expected level of conversions per ad spend reaches 95%.

On the flip side, as many analysts admit, as good as the simulation data sounds, the real-life experiments, run by digital ad ops teams, may demonstrate much lower efficiency of FLoCs.

When’s the Release?

According to Google’s official announcements, the origin trial of FLoC API will begin in March, with the Chrome v.89 release.

As for the use of cohort-level behavior data, powered by the FLoC tech, advertisers should expect the Google Ads trial launch in Q2 2021.

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