Google Announces FLoC Slowdown

I’ve talked about FLoC – Google’s plan to replace tracking cookies – a couple of times before (here I discuss the announcement and concerns, and here I talk about several browsers (and others) that publicly stated they would not implement FLoC).

Well, it looks like Google does take some feedback to heart.

Initially, Google had said that they want to drop 3rd-party cookie support (and replace that with FLoc) by the end of 2022.

However, according to a recent blog post, Google is now pushing that timeline back, “to move at a responsible pace.” Their new goal is to have FLoC (or another cookie replacement) in place by the end of 2022, with the goal of phasing out 3rd-party cookies by late 2023.

However, right now it’s hard to judge how serious Google is about FLoC.

Certainly, as an ad company the need a way to target ads. The revenue from their AdSense (and related) business makes up around 80% of Alphabet’s (Google’s parent company) revenue. I simply can’t imagine them ending 3rd-party cookie support in Chrome without a way to keep their ad business profitable (which means targeted ads, which means some form of tracking).

However, Google certainly has a certain reputation for killing products. Maybe with all the negative backlash against FLoC, Google is planning to kill it and introduce a replacement. In Google’s blog they say they have over 30 proposals “to create more private approaches to key areas, including ad measurement, delivering relevant ads and content, and fraud detection”, so they certainly have several options.

Only time will tell, but at least we know that Google will sometimes respond to users. Now if only we could get Google Reader back…