Google Claims It Will Replace Tracking With Privacy-Preserving Ads

David Temkin, director of product management for ads privacy and trust, writing on the Google Blog:

Today, we’re making explicit that once third-party cookies are phased out, we will not build alternate identifiers to track individuals as they browse across the web, nor will we use them in our products.

We realize this means other providers may offer a level of user identity for ad tracking across the web that we will not — like PII graphs based on people’s email addresses. We don’t believe these solutions will meet rising consumer expectations for privacy, nor will they stand up to rapidly evolving regulatory restrictions, and therefore aren’t a sustainable long term investment. Instead, our web products will be powered by privacy-preserving APIs which prevent individual tracking while still delivering results for advertisers and publishers.

Honestly, I read this post twice and I don’t really know what it means. It sounds good on the surface, but cynically, it also sounds like an obfuscated way of saying that Google has figured out a way to continue tracking users but doesn’t think that counts as “tracking” because it’s all “first party” on Google properties:

We will continue to support first-party relationships on our ad platforms for partners, in which they have direct connections with their own customers. And we’ll deepen our support for solutions that build on these direct relationships between consumers and the brands and publishers they engage with.

The WSJ is taking Google at its word, with this lede:

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

Wednesday, 3 March 2021