Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) is Google’s new alternative to third party cookies. Google believes this is a safer, more private approach for advertising companies to access users preferences without selling any personal information about the user. The machine based technology allows any browser to study how any user is browsing and then groups those users into “cohorts”.
For example, if a user searches for coffee filters on multiple sites, advertisers are able to collect those cohorts, or information about that user. Where the advertiser CAN’T see exactly which coffee filters the consumer is searching for (this is supposed to be the protected privacy part), they can gather enough information to send targeted ads to that user.
Google is disabling third party cookie usage on Chrome, leaving advertisers alike looking for alternatives for access to consumer information, and Google believes FLoC is that alternative. Many browsers have come out in protest against FLoC and have said they will block the service on their browsers. The issue most are battling is while Google is claiming to do this as a safer way for users to be tracked, they’ve rolled out the new tracking software without permission from their user base. Meaning, if you’re reading this on a Chrome browser, you have likely already been enrolled in FLoC without knowing. Is this the future of advertising or will FLoK be a flop?