On Wednesday, Google announced a shift in its current ad-selling policy in a move away from tracking users on an individualized level. Next year, the company will no longer sell ads based on how a user moves and engages across multiple websites.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Google “plans next year to stop using or investing in tracking technologies that uniquely identify web users as they move from site to site across the internet.” This move could reportedly help move internet companies away from the habits of tracking individuals, “which has come under increasing criticism from privacy advocates and faces scrutiny from regulators.”
In a blog post, Google’s Director of Product Management, Ads Privacy and Trust, David Temkin, made the announcement and explained the decision, noting that the trust of users has decreased as ads have become more individualized over the past years of Internet usage.
But as our industry has strived to deliver relevant ads to consumers across the web, it has created a proliferation of individual user data across thousands of companies, typically gathered through third-party cookies.
This has led to an erosion of trust: 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.
If digital advertising doesn’t evolve to address the growing concerns people have about their privacy and how their personal identity is being used, we risk the future of the free and open web.
Temkin’s post responded to questions that Google has received on whether or not it will put alternative user-level identifiers in place of third-party cookies that Chrome announced it would remove last year. Temkin clarified, saying, “Today, we’re making explicit that once third-party cookies are phased out, we will not build alternate identifiers to track individuals as they browse across the web, nor will we use them in our products. ”
Temkin acknowledged that the company knows this decision might result in other suppliers being able to provide a better degree of tracking. However, he noted that these alternatives will not “meet rising consumer expectations for privacy, nor will they stand up to rapidly evolving regulatory restrictions, and therefore aren’t a sustainable long term investment.”
This decision could be a shake-up in the world of online advertisers. The Wall Street Journal reports, “Google accounted for 52% of last year’s global digital ad spending of $292 billion, according to Jounce Media, a digital ad consultancy. About 40% of the money that flows from advertisers to publishers on the open internet—meaning digital advertising outside of closed systems such as Google Search, YouTube or Facebook—goes through Google’s ad buying tools, according to Jounce.”
Temkin’s post concluded, “People shouldn’t have to accept being tracked across the web in order to get the benefits of relevant advertising. And advertisers don’t need to track individual consumers across the web to get the performance benefits of digital advertising,” adding, “We look forward to working with others in the industry on the path forward.”
Google’s announcement moves the company in a direction away from other platforms that have gone forward with personal ads. Last week, CNBC reported that Facebook launched its “Good Ideas Deserve to be Found” campaign, which is reportedly an effort to “help people understand how the personalized ads they see help them discover new things they love, and support businesses in their community.”
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