The Big Story: FLoC Yes!

The Big Story podcast

This week the big stories are all Google, all the time.

First, the Department of Justice uncorked its long-awaited antitrust lawsuit against the tech giant. As previously speculated by multiple news outlets, the DOJ’s case homes in on Google’s search business.

In this episode of The Big Story, the AdExchanger team talks about why the DOJ’s suit focuses on search and, now that the lawsuit has been filed, what to expect next. As Senior Editor Allison Schiff points out, though, don’t expect a swift resolution. Case in point: The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against IBM in 1969, it went to trial in 1975 … and was eventually withdrawn in 1982.

The DOJ’s lawsuit is a BFD. But still, the ad tech industry feels somewhat deflated now that the details of the case have been made public. After all the handwringing over Google’s dominance in online display and video, the DOJ’s focus on Google’s search business is a little disappointing to the ad tech community and publishers. Some stakeholders feel that the DOJ is overlooking the true keys to Google’s power – identity and data – in the interest of having a case that’s easier to argue and understand.

After the break, we’ll stick with Google but move away from antitrust – or at least the antitrust complaint – to take a look at giant’s latest move in the W3C. Google recently completed a test of FLoC (federated learning of cohorts), a proposal it’s pushing for its privacy sandbox.

FLoC is designed to group based on their browsing behavior as an alternative to targeting based on third-party cookies.

So does it work?

Well, compared to using a random assortment of consumers, the results are good. But how about compared to targeting with third-party cookies? That remains to be seen … and it seems Google wants the ad tech community to pitch in to help find out.

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