Press Release

MOW’s response to Google’s announcement on FLoC

Google is using dodgy data to try and justify its anti-competitive actions

25th January 2021: Marketers for an Open Web today responded to an update issued by Google regarding its proposed Privacy Sandbox technology.

MOW doesn’t believe that today’s update addresses any of the substantive concerns surrounding Privacy Sandbox and also questions the conclusions Google has announced in support of its effectiveness.

James Rosewell, Director of MOW, said: “Today’s announcement does nothing to assuage the concerns about these changes that have been expressed by the industry and regulators worldwide.  Privacy Sandbox is trying to replace an open and interoperable technology with one that is Google controlled.  This will force more marketers into their walled garden and will spell the end of the independent and Open Web. 

“Google’s proposals are bad for independent media owners, bad for independent advertising technology and bad for marketers.  The people who will be most significantly affected by this will be smaller local publishers and independent businesses – they will effectively be cut out of the open online advertising marketplace causing devastating and irreversible damage to their businesses.

“Google’s claims of collaboration and openness are disingenuous. W3C takes the position that Google’s proposals have no official standing and are not part of a Working Group. Indeed, feedback within the W3C clearly explains how Google’s proposed cohort marketing is discriminatory against small businesses. Google’s announcement is a monopolistic player attempting to consolidate their dominance by degrading the Open Web using privacy and collaboration as a veil of legitimacy.

“Requiring people to surrender directly identifiable, personal information like their email address, name, phone number, and related search history among extensive additional data to a handful of trillion-dollar businesses operating an oligopoly does nothing to improve people’s privacy in practice.

“Google has stated that cohorts “is where the future is headed, at some level, in terms of targeting.” Yet if Google truly believed cohort-based marketing was beneficial to publishers and marketers, then why are they not switching their own marketer-facing solutions to only offer cohort-based engagement on its own properties? This seems like a change designed to directly and only impact the Open Web.

“We believe that the announcement today is based on research published in October 2020 comparing FLoC to random user groupings and not personalised advertising as claimed.  In that paper Google said it was able to achieve 70% accuracy in building cohort clusters relative to random assignment, which is still well below the segmentation accuracy of the current industry standard of using cookies of online ad targeting. We trust Google does not believe marketers spend their money at random and hence it is baffling why that was used as the baseline for their findings. We invite Google to publish their research that supports their alleged claim that marketers can drive 95% of conversions relying solely on FLoC cohorts or to retract the press release. In all cases we’ll be requesting the UK Competition and Market Authority independently validate the claims made.”

For more information:

Patrick Herridge, Bluestripe Group

01825 791993

For a more in-depth view of MOW’s views on FLoC please read: What The FLoC: Don’t Be A Sheep | AdExchanger