[The Chinese version follows the English one. 中文版在底部]
Google has announced that they will cut off third-party cookies on websites, which is terrible news for marketers because third-party user behavioral data is becoming less and less adding that Apple has also launched their app tracking transparency policy. But is it impossible for marketers to place a third-party advertisement in the future?
What are cookies and why are they important for marketers
There are many types of cookies but they can be categorized into two major types: first-party and third-party cookies.
First-party cookies are the tiny txt files created by the website that is visited by the users, the file will only be stored on that website and record the behavioral data of users only on that website. For example, the cookies will remember the log-in status of users, what the users put into the shopping carts, or what products the users bookmarked. Having the above information tracked, the users may have a more convenient shopping experience since they do not have to log in again the next time they visit the website. Also, once they leave the website, their browsing behavior will not be tracked by first-party cookies anymore, and no privacy concern is caused so Google does not have the plan to shut down the use of first-party cookies.
But when it comes to third-party cookies, users start to worry about their online privacy. Third-party cookies are the tracking codes that come from different websites, which help marketers to track the browsing behavior of users. With the acquired behavioral data, marketers may precisely display ads that are personalized for their target audience on different websites. That is why when we are browsing one website, we can always see advertisements from another website that we have probably visited before. Since the particular user’s IP address may be tracked down, it is not the users’ fault to worry about their privacy. Google is also aware of it, which is why they have a plan to cancel the usage of cookies.
But is it the end of the world for marketers?
Google also wants to provide a personalized browsing experience for users, so the last thing they want to do is display non-sense advertisements. That is why Google is going to replace third-party cookies with FLoC.
What is FLoC and how can they help?
FLoC stands for Federated Learning of Cohorts, it is a tracking technology that categorizes users into different interest groups via machine learning. The tracker will analyze the URLs and the content of the page that the users have browsed through, and then label the groups with different FLoC IDs. The username and the IP address of the users will not be disclosed to the tracker, the only thing that the tracker knows about the users is their cohort ID, and even Google will not be able to see the user information and their browsing history via Floc. Therefore, the privacy of the users can be kept.
Once the users are categorized and the tracker gathers their interests, they will be shown advertisements that are related to the group. But since FloC service can only provide the common general interests of a group to the trackers or marketers, the advertisements might not be as precise and personalized as those composed based on the tracking result of cookies.
However, if marketers can only gain third-hand insights from FloC, it will be more difficult for marketers to do remarketing. Say customer A has viewed a product page of a particular facial mask, FLoC will only tell the marketers that there is a group of people who are interested in skincare. Since there will be competitors who put advertisements to the same FLoC group as you did, customer A might not be able to see the exact advertisement again. Instead, she might be shown other advertisements for skin care such as hand cream commercials.
Therefore, without cookies, even though there will be other tracking services like FLoC, the preciseness and the level of personalization of the advertisements will be weakened. Data is important for marketers to know about their current customers as well as retain them. We have to cherish all data that we can obtain from both online and offline. That is why O2O and OMO channels are important. We will explain this in-depth in the next chapter of the series. Please stay tuned for our new articles and visit our website for more insight and case studies!
新隱私趨勢 II: 營銷人員應如何應對第三方 Cookies 的消失？
Google 宣布了一個對營銷人員來說十分可怕的消息 – 他們將會停止網站的第三方 Cookies。之所以會這樣說，正是因為來自第三方的用戶行為數據變得越來越少，加上蘋果也更新了他們的應用程式追蹤透明度政策。在未來，營銷人員還能否投放第三方廣告呢？
Cookies 的類型雖然有很多，但主要可分為兩大類：第一方和第三方 Cookies。
第一方 cookies 是由網站生成的 txt 文檔，文檔只會記錄用戶在該網站上的行為數據，以及只存儲在該網站上。例如，cookies 能記住用戶的登錄狀態、用戶放入了購物車或者收藏了的商品等。有了以上的「記憶」，用戶在下次訪問該網站時無需再重新登錄，購物體驗將更加方便快捷。另外，當他們離開網站，他們的瀏覽數據便不能再被 cookie 追蹤，不會引起隱私問題。因此，Google 並沒有計劃關閉第一方 cookies 的使用。
但當涉及到第三方 cookies 時，用戶便開始擔心自己在網路上的隱私。第三方 cookies 是來自不同網站的追蹤代碼 (tracking codes)，可以幫助行銷人員追蹤使用者的瀏覽行為。藉由取得的行為數據，行銷人員可以在不同網站上精準地向其目標受眾顯示度身打造的個人化廣告。這就是為什麼我們在瀏覽一個網站的時候，總會發現與自己曾經造訪過的其他網站相關。由於第三方 cookie 可能會追蹤使用者的 IP 地址，使用者擔心隱私問題並非無道理。Google 意識到這一點，這也是他們計劃取消 cookies 的原因。
那麼，對於沒有了第三方 Cookies 的營銷人員來說，這是世界末日嗎？
Google 仍希望為用戶提供個人化的瀏覽體驗，所以他們最不希望做的就是向用戶展示毫無意義的廣告。這也是為什麼他們打算用 FLoC 來取代第三方 cookies。
FLoC 是什麼？它可以怎樣代替 Cookies？
FLoC 是 Federated Learning of Cohorts 的縮寫，它是一種通過機器學習將用戶分類到不同興趣群組的追蹤技術。它會分析用戶瀏覽過的 URLs 和網頁，然後使用不同的 FLoC IDs 來標籤不同群組。用家的用戶名和IP地址都被透露予FLoC，它唯一知道用戶的只有用戶的群組ID，甚至是 Google 也無法通過 FLoC 查看用戶信息和他們的瀏覽歷史記錄。可見，用戶的隱私可以得到保護。
當 FLoC 收集到了他們的興趣，用戶會被分到相應的群組，看到與群體標籤相關的廣告。然而，由於FLoC服務只能向營銷人員提供群組內用戶共同的一般興趣，因此它所投放的廣告在精準性及個性化方面，可能不如基於 cookies 追蹤結果所計算出來的廣告。
就例如，如果我們能使用 cookies 來追蹤客戶A的行為，我們會知道她曾瀏覽過某一網站的一項商品。那麼當她下一次瀏覽 Google display network 覆蓋的網站時，她很大可能會再次看到有關該產品的廣告。
然而，如果營銷人員只能從 FLoC 獲取第三方訊息，他們在進行再行銷 (Remarking) 時將會更加困難。舉例來說，客戶A瀏覽了某個面膜的產品頁面，但 FLoC 只會告訴營銷人員這裡有一群對護膚品感興趣的人。由於你的競爭對手也會將廣告投放予相同的 FLoC 目標群組中，客戶A可能無法再次看到你的廣告。更甚至，她可能會被推送其他護膚品如護手霜的廣告。