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What Google’s cookie announcement means for advertisers, more specifically, audience targeting on Go

Unless you are in complete quarantine, you should hear of recent announcement by Google that they will not be replacing third-party cookie with alternate ID, and what's in place is Privacy Sandbox initiative with the proposal, called “Federated Learning of Cohorts,” (FLoC), which would essentially put people into groups based on similar browsing behaviors and allow targeting options 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 third- party cookies are replaced with interest-based advertising (FLoC).

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

  • Google Audience Targeting - The ability to target Google Audience and make it free for advertisers to use is one of key advantages of DV360/Google Ads have over other DSPs, and these audiences include: In-Market Audience, (e.g. Home & Garden Services, 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 – The ability to build Retargeting Audience using Floodlight or Google Analytics by setting up both post-view and post-click in attribution for full funnel attribution.

If we refer to the Google Post, and it 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 accept that they will NOT be replacing Cookie ID with their own Gmail ID and create their own walled garden, which they certainly can enforce it if they want. So instead, they will use the same Privacy Sandbox and migrate it to using FLOC.

Here are some pointers which I believe the product or Google’s ecosystem will evolve:

  1. All Google Audience will be collected and segmented under Privacy Sandbox - So good news to advertisers - all Affinity and In-Market 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. For instance, it will be grouped under "Intent - Personal Loan" Interest Group if someone searches "personal loan with low interest". This Interest Group will be owned by Google and made 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 sits within user's Chrome browser for 30 days and does not contain an individual user ID.

  2. Any Advertiser or Publisher or Third-Party Ad-tech vendor (On behalf of Publishers or Advertisers) can build their own Interest Groups and make them available for targeting. For Advertisers, this will mean that Retargeting is still possible except that it will retarget different Interest Groups instead of retargeting individuals. Interest Group can be created by Group Owner or by Site Owner. So basically, you can create your own groups and assign users to a particular group. For example, user who browses running shoes will be grouped under Interest Group "Running Shoes" if you are an advertiser selling shoes. For actual implementation, I believe Google will continue to use Floodlight tag to do its job. As for other retargeters or DCO vendors like Adzymic, they can place their tags on an advertiser's site by creating an Interest Group (with the permission of advertiser).

So what happened during actual bidding process for Dynamic Retargeting?

A scenario:

  1. Let’s say the same user who browses “Running Shoes” on an advertiser’s site and visited CNN previously.

  2. CNN will run an auction for this impression using an On-Device Auction at browser level.

  3. When using DV360, you as the “Shoe Advertiser” implement 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 ad creative by having the Interest Group ID passing in from DV360 to the DCO vendor and the relevant personalised ad is served once the specific Interest Group is matched.

A caveat that the above scenario is still at experimentation stage (A new proposal under Fledge), and still some details to be sorted out. Google might have not done a great job in explaining the complete scenario pertaining to Privacy Sandbox as well as the efforts might be required from advertisers and agencies, but I'm pretty optimistic that they're going to make the right, come what may. So, advertisers can continue to run their various audience targeting options through their Google platforms.

Travis Teo Co-founder and Executive Director, Adzymic


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