Google Ads first mentioned that it would stop tracking users back in 2019 when it announced Privacy Sandbox. This represents a major change from how Google targets users moving away from session-based and individual tracking to what they call FLoC. FLoC tracks users using event-based and group-focused signals. This means that users will be put in groups that fit a pattern for conversions. This could be groups of people that need home improvements for example. From there, you will still have similar signals to target people based on the same kinds of demos as before like income, gender, and interests.
In fact, 72% of people feel that almost all of what they do online is being tracked by advertisers, technology firms or other companies, and 81% say that the potential risks they face because of data collection outweigh the benefits, according to a study by Pew Research Center.
Google’s PR Problem – the problem with cookies
Google was dealing with a PR problem in 2019 as more users became uncomfortable with being tracked online. This lead to privacy concerns and Google had a major PR problem they felt they needed to address. Enter privacy sandbox and GA4. Google Analytics 4 or GA4 uses a new way to track users by using event-based tracking and the groups-based tracking mentioned earlier. This is a new methodology to user tracking.
Issues with the rollout
Part of the problem with Google moving away from cookies is that they have not been very clear on the new system that will replace it to the public. Perhaps the public doesn’t understand it but it should be made very clear how it works and the changes that are happening. Cookies have been a bedrock of web advertising since 1994. Most everyone knows what they are and many believe that being tracked online is part of the game since all these services are basically free. Using a new system that is controlled by Google obviously gives Google more control of how advertisers on the web target people so it makes sense to put that in Google’s hands according to Google. The marketing campaign for the rollout has been atrocious. Our company alone has received many emails and calls about this topic because people just don’t understand why this is happening. To make matters worse is that the news media really has no idea what any of this stuff is either so you get this perfect recipe for incompetence ontop of incompetence.
Again, did I mention bad press? Google will have a lot of clean-up work ahead of themselves on this one. That is not to even say that FLoC or Privacy Sandbox is bad, in fact, it’s a great thing. To make the web more secure and to obfuscate users is fantastic and I do applaud Google for making this change as it will really make a more secure web moving forward. The issue is the horrible PR campaign around this release.
Watch our complete video on these changes below
When will Google Ads stop using cookies?
Google will stop supporting cookies in early 2022.
Will my Google Ads be affected or change?
For the most part, no. Google search ads, Youtube, Gmail, and any Google property ads will not be affected. In fact, Google will still track logged-in users the same. What will change is Google Display ads and how audiences are created.
How accurate will the new FLoC system be?
In tests, Google says that they produce 95% similar conversions to cookie-based ads. Google is a massive company so they have done considerable testing on this and have come up with a solution they feel is best. Since their profits come from Google Ads they obviously won’t gamble on this.
What will this impact the most?
This will impact Google display ads the most. Audiences will need to be updated as this will be a change for how to target users.
How can I prepare for the rollout?
Talk with Kow Abundant about your ad strategy or your ads manager. There are a few steps you can take to prepare for release in 2022.
- Upgrade to GA4 or Google Analytics 4
- Start tracking in GA4 and create new conversion tracking
- Keep up to date on your Google Ads campaigns
- Follow Kow Abundant for the latest news about this as we will follow this ongoing.