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Google AI FLoC

Digital marketing world has gone PC mad

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March 19, 2021 | 4 min read

If you’re anything like me, you might have noticed the digital marketing world tightening-up in recent months

And I get it, we’ve all got to respect each-other. But where does it stop? What’s happened to our freedom as marketers? Do we face a vanilla future? And why is everyone getting so worked-up about the importance of PC?

Now, I don’t want this to be rant. And I don’t want anyone to take this in the wrong way. But there’s just too many people worrying about this subject, so it’s time to set the record straight.

If you’re a digital marketing professional, you’ve probably seen this in the news. Privacy and Cookies have been the talk of the town. Wait … this wasn’t the rant that you thought it might be? Well, you’re here now, so read on. It’ll still be good!

First Apple announced (and has started to roll out) their IDFA update, which gives users the ability to opt out of being tracked by advertisers at app level. Currently, about 70% of IOS users share their IDFA with app publishers, after this change it’s estimated that this number will drop to 10% to 15%.

Then, Google dropped the bombshell that it won’t be allowing advertisers to replace cookies with hashed email addresses or other independent identifiers that track user-level browsing when it removes support for third-party cookies in 2022.

Digital marketing is about to change forever. Whether that be for better or for worse, I will leave up to you.

But what I do want to call out is the scaremongering taking place within the industry about this update.

Yes, things are changing. Yes, one of the most powerful tools to a digital marketer is about to be whipped from under our feet. But we’ve faced these challenges before. And we’ve adapted.

Digital marketing isn’t about to vanish like Piers Morgan when he’s challenged on set. It’s here to stay (also unfortunately like Piers Morgan).

So what does the future hold for us marketing enthusiasts? Well, I can’t be certain, but here are a couple of points that should provide some comfort.

FLoC on!

Whilst you can make some FLoCing good puns from the alternative, the actual name of the replacement isn’t as much fun. Federated Learning of Cohorts. That’s what we’ll be using in the near future. I prefer cookies.

FLoCs, which Google states it will use instead, protects an individual's privacy because it's based on aggregated data. It works in a similar way to cookies, but across a range of people, so there's some AI involved. Think ‘Lookalike Audiences’.

Google does state that advertisers will retain their success rate after third-party cookies have been phased out. Their announcement a few weeks ago talks about it.

Arguably, this will be more powerful for marketing professionals as it'll work in a similar way to lookalike audiences. Therefore, if a load of people are landing on your site and engaging with a piece of content, you’ll be able to target a whole bunch of people that have similar interests - widening the net when serving your consideration and decision stage content, or ads.

Be better!

It’s my favourite piece of tongue-in-cheek advice - “Just be a little bit better!” But it actually rings-true here. Be better. Be a better marketer. Be better at understanding your audience. Be better at providing them value. And, ultimately, be better at your lead generation.

Because that’s what this all boils down to.

Marketing professionals are going to have to think long and hard about how they capture leads from now on. You won’t have the safety net of remarketing. So if your prospect leaves your site and doesn’t download your lead magnet, doesn’t enquire, doesn’t purchase, well, they’re gone with the wind.

These updates (and the wider-privacy laws that are inevitably going to be thrust upon us) only heighten the importance of you generating lists and owning that data.

Don’t believe the hype!

So whilst there are changes afoot, it’s not the end of the world. And remember that we’re marketers. We adapt.

And now is the time to do that.

Now, if you need help with adapting, well, because you’ve got this far in the article, you’re about to get peppered with retargeting ads for the foreseeable … Hopefully.

Google AI FLoC


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