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Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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Google will stop tracking individuals for advertising next year

Sam Schechner and Keach Hagey, writing at The Wall Street Journal:

Google plans to stop selling ads based on individuals’ browsing across multiple websites, a change that could hasten upheaval in the digital advertising industry.

The Alphabet Inc. company said Wednesday that it 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.

Well, that’s interesting, to say the least. Google seems to see which the wind is blowing: towards privacy. This isn’t to say that the company will totally forego advertising—there are several mentions in this piece of “first-party data”, i.e. information about a user provided directly to a company, of which Google has quite a bit. And this doesn’t apply to mobile apps, just websites, which may continue to let Apple play up its privacy angle on iOS/iPadOS.

Bottom line, though: Google wouldn’t make such a move unless it felt confident its business would not only survive the aftermath, but thrive. Remember: Google is an advertising-driven company—that’s how it makes its money. It’s clearly come to the conclusion that it can still deliver a relevant advertising product while also skirting around the increasing risks run by impinging upon users’ privacy.

Advertising on the web isn’t going away, but this could mark a significant change in the way in which it’ll be conducted going forward, especially given that the makers of two of the world’s most popular browsers—Chrome and Safari—are now pushing more privacy technology.

Other companies are sure to try and fill the personally-tailored-ad vacuum that Google is leaving here, but they’ll all face the same challenge of getting prominent enough to draw in customers while staying out of the crosshairs of an increasingly privacy-conscious public.1


  1. Hi, Facebook. 
—Linked by Dan Moren

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