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Kirk Williams
Digital Privacy

FLoC? Privacy Sandbox? Google Ads Privacy Changes Kinda Explained - ZATO Marketing Moment

FLoC? Privacy Sandbox? Google Ads Privacy Changes Kinda Explained - ZATO Marketing Moment

10/25/19 UPDATE: Hello Facebook Agency Visitor Person!  We’re delighted to have you visit this awesome post. About a year ago, ZATO stopped offering Facebook Ads solutions so we could focus solely on what we do best: Google Ads. Because of this, we’re always interested in partnerships with great Social Advertising agencies (like yourself, wink wink!) and we offer referral fees for signed clients!  Anyway, back to it, and happy reading…

Post Summary

Have you seen Google's announcement about no longer tracking third party cookies? It's pretty confusing, isn't it? Here is my lighthearted attempt to shed some light on what's happening, and have a little fun doing so. Enjoy!


Warning: The humor of the video is DEFINITELY lost reading the transcript, so basically it's here for SEO value. Please don't actually read the transcript... watch the video!

Hey there, it’s PPCKirk, and this is your Marketing Moment.

Today’s Marketing Moment will focus on the recent news about Google no longer tracking users around the web…...what’s that?

Sorry, of Google no longer tracking users in their advertising platforms around the web……

Say again?

Of Google transitioning their tracking to the Privacy Sandbox rather than cookies to prevent users from seeing personalized ads.… still not right?

“Of users not noticing any difference whatsoever in targeted advertising to them after this change has occurred.”

What exactly is happening in this change? It’s incredibly technical, but I’ve broken it down for you in simplistic, and understandable language:

ha! Kidding. I’m really not the best one to break this down for you, but I am the one you’re still watching, so I’ll do my best.

Some in the marketing community, note that this should not be a surprise.

I for one, am *definitely* one of the many people who didn’t see the open ID initiatives as long-term viable.

Well, I don’t know what’s happening either, but it has something to do with FLOC, Turtledove, cookies, and the Privacy Sandbox, and the data geeks among us are already prepping their dad jokes.

Let’s spend a little time diving into each of these.

First, let’s look at FLOC.

Or, according to Google:

The Farm Labor Organizing Committee.

Flag Letter of Commendation?

For Love of Children

Federated Learning of Cohorts?

Actually, that last one is the one. Its.. yeah it’s that one.

What the FLOC is FLoC?

Instead of your individual browser activity being tracked by everyone with the third party cookie, you’re now assigned labels that lump you together with other people (or, cohorts) who behave the same way you do online.

Cause definitely, being labeled with people completely different from you except for some specific online behaviors when you may or may not have even, has always worked well for us in the past.

Dah, the FlOCing Blippi label again. That is the last FLOCing time I let my kids use my computer!Okay so hold on then, what’s a cookie?First, I’m absolutely not going to make a cookie joke here. Possibly the most over-done joke in all of marketing land. It’s time for the cookie joke to die a well-deserved death, and let us briefly have the funeral now.

So what is a cookie?

Well a third party cookie is what Google is killing off, these are little cute little things placed on your device by someone OTHER THAN the website in which you are visiting.

Cookies store data about you and the cookie owners can use this to show you ads in the future.

A first party cookie is still allowed by Google, that is when the site you are on actively stores data about you.

So moral of the story here, other than the cookie joke dying, is to begin collecting your own data if you want it. I mean, you don’t have to. There’s no law that you have to collect data. In fact, there aren’t even awards for that, yet.

Okay so what’s this here Privacy Sandbox?

Or in the words of Digiday “WTF is Google’s Privacy Sandbox.

”Can I check in first though, like is everyone okay at Digiday? You guys seem a little stressed? Lots of stuff to report this year, huh?

Regardless. Here is the description: “Privacy Sandbox represents an alternative pathway that Google is providing for the ad industry to take, relying on anonymized signals (that are not cookies) within a person’s Chrome browser to profit from that user’s browsing habits.”I have no idea what that just said.No but seriously, in breaking this down there are a couple of interesting points here.

First, unlike current practice, your user data never leaves your browser or device. That’s actually pretty cool, your data stays with you.Unlike that dog I had in the third grade… whatever happened to that dog. Did he not go to live with his friends on the farm??

Second, your data is anonymized and aggregated. We’re back to the FLOCing treatment. The good news of cohorts and labels is that random businesses around the web can’t follow you personally around like some sleezy guy in an alley. *shudders*

So what does this all mean for privacy?Well, the good news is that this is one step further towards your data actually becoming more private on the web. That’s a good thing! Two thumbs up.

On the other hand, since data is currency, it also means the behemoth Google is now the only one who has access to and can utilize that data for advertising, so… that’s probably not so good in the interest of non-monopolies.So, you decide if it’s good for the industry or not, but this has been your Marketing Moment.I’m PPCKirk, and may the auctions be ever in your favor.

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Kirk Williams
Owner & Chief Pondering Officer

Kirk is the owner of ZATO, his Paid Search & Social PPC micro-agency of experts, and has been working in Digital Marketing since 2009. His personal motto (perhaps unhealthily so), is "let's overthink this some more."  He even wrote a book recently on philosophical PPC musings that you can check out here: Ponderings of a PPC Professional.

He has been named one of the Top 25 Most Influential PPCers in the world by PPC Hero 6 years in a row (2016-2021), has written articles for many industry publications (including Shopify, Moz, PPC Hero, Search Engine Land, and Microsoft), and is a frequent guest on digital marketing podcasts and webinars.

Kirk currently resides in Billings, MT with his wife, six children, books, Trek Bikes, Taylor guitar, and little sleep.

Kirk is an avid "discusser of marketing things" on Twitter, as well as an avid conference speaker, having traveled around the world to talk about Paid Search (especially Shopping Ads).  Kirk has booked speaking engagements in London, Dublin, Sydney, Milan, NYC, Dallas, OKC, Milwaukee, and more and has been recognized through reviews as one of the Top 10 conference presentations on more than one occasion.

You can connect with Kirk on Twitter, and Linkedin, or follow his marketing song parodies on TikTok.

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