Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Ad Tech Companies Are Already Linking FLoC IDs to Other Identifiers

Kate Kaye, Digiday:

Google’s automated cookieless ad targeting method — or Federated Learning of Cohorts — is supposed to protect privacy by providing people with a greater degree of anonymity than the third-party cookie offered. Instead, it may make it quicker and easier for advertising companies to identify and access information about people online.

As privacy and data ethics advocates warned, companies are starting to combine FLoC IDs with existing identifiable profile information, linking unique insights about people’s digital travels to what they already know about them, even before third-party cookie tracking could have revealed it. And identity tech firms say the IDs will help improve the accuracy of systems that detect people’s identities and could even serve as persistent identifiers.

Ad tech companies will use every possible identifier to isolate individual users and market themselves as uniquely precise in their targeting capabilities. Effective advertising does not depend on hyper-accurate personalization, but it is important for ad tech companies to preserve this illusion so that this lucrative scam may continue for as long as possible.

Google’s FLoC initiative is a blatant attempt at redefining privacy in its favour and away from users’ expectations. It doubles down on profiling instead of moving away from this invasive and unnecessary way of serving advertisements — and ad tech companies are taking full advantage.