Google is experimenting with an ad targeting technology called FLoC (pronounced "flock") that uses Chrome to analyze users' browsing histories and place them into groups with similar browsing habits. The tech giant says FLoC, which stands for a “Federated Learning of Cohorts,” could replace third-party cookies, and says “advertisers can expect to see at least 95% of the conversions per dollar spent when compared to cookie-based advertising,” for reaching in-market and affinity audiences.
“Instead of understanding browsing behavior or interests at an individual level, the intent here is to have groups of users who would have similar interests,” said Chetna Bindra, group product manager, user trust and privacy at Google. The advancement comes as Google, Apple and other companies scramble to find a replacement for third-party cookies, and as users push for more privacy on the web through new regulations like the CPRA.
FLoC uses an algorithm built into the Chrome web browser that observes what websites a user visits. The algorithm then uses that browsing information to put the user into a cohort, a group of thousands of other users with similar browsing habits. That cohort can then be used by publishers and advertisers to serve up targeted ads.