The Big Story: What We FLoC About When We FLoC About Google


The Big Story Podcast

–> The Big Story podcast

Google announced this week that its federated learning of cohorts sandbox proposal (FLoC) is nearly as effective as cookie-based advertising.

And the rest of the ad industry collectively said, “Whaaaaaat?”

Needless to say, there’s a lot to unpack behind all the hype. This week on The Big Story, the team welcomes Flashtalking CEO John Nardone to help us figure it all out.

It’s important to note that Google has thus far been grading its own homework here – FLoCs won’t be available for public testing until March. But how did Google assess the efficacy of FLoCs for its internal tests, and is Google actually using criteria relevant to the advertising industry as a whole?

And here’s a more existential question: Are we focusing too much on FLoCs? As Nardone points out, in no way is the proposal poised to replace cookies. FLoCs are focused on targeting – and a very specific type of targeting at that.

So we’ll look at what FLoCs can potentially solve, and we’ll also try to infer Google’s larger strategy around releasing its very enthusiastic update on the solution’s supposed effectiveness.

And after the break, it’s Apple vs. Google! (Not to be confused with Apple vs. Facebook.) IDFA restrictions are coming in “early spring” – Apple finally shared a broad timeline for implementation on Thursday  – and Google, for its part, finally spoke about what it’s doing to prep for it. Briefly: Google isn’t going to collect the IDFA in its own apps, and it’s gearing up for a “significant” impact on revenue on iOS once the restrictions take hold.

Google didn’t really supply much more information than that, but in this episode, we do our best to read between the lines.

Finally, to round out the week’s Google news, we’ll talk about a relatively recent “anti-fingerprinting” sandbox proposal called Gnatcatcher. I put that in scare quotes because even though the optics around fingerprinting are really bad, is this proposal really about fingerprinting?

Hey, tune in to find out.

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