Privacy-First Advertising On The Web

Chetna Bindra, Group Product Manager, User Trust and Privacy​ | May 4, 2021

PRAM submitted a wide range of questions from the advertising and marketing community to Google regarding the upcoming changes it plans around the treatment of non-Google identifiers and the alternate technical approaches it is proposing. Google has responded to some of those questions in the form of a blog below and has committed to continuing to partner with PRAM to address additional questions, including during a scheduled upcoming webinar with the ANA on May 13. PRAM will continue to work with Google to secure answers to outstanding questions and to provide the industry with information regarding its plans, and such content will be posted on the PRAM website.

In March, Google reconfirmed our commitment to user privacy by clarifying that once third-party cookies are phased out, we will not build or use alternate identifiers to track individuals as they browse across the web. Instead, our web products will be powered by privacy-preserving APIs which prevent individual tracking while still delivering results for advertisers and publishers.


We have received questions from individuals in the digital advertising industry who are seeking to better understand the practical implications of these changes. To help answer these questions, Google has been engaging with the industry, including our trade association partners, to share information about how we are designing our products for a privacy-forward future. In the past month, we’ve shared information about how we’re helping publishers sustain advertising revenue as the web evolves, and Chrome launched a Privacy Sandbox website that provides information about the initiative including how developers can participate in the latest testing opportunities. Most recently, we shared an update on efforts underway to support key conversion measurement use cases.


With the help of the Partnership for Responsible Addressable Media, this post aims to answer some of the key questions PRAM is hearing from its members about Google’s recent announcements and Privacy Sandbox. We recognize that this list of questions and answers is not exhaustive but we are committed to continuing to partner with PRAM to help build a privacy-first, ad-supported web.


When third party cookies are deprecated, what monetization solutions will Google Ad Manager customers have?


We know that publishers need the flexibility to build monetization strategies that meet their needs, and our goal is to continue supporting a wide range of approaches through our sell-side products like Google Ad Manager. In a recent blog post, we highlighted several monetization solutions that we believe will be important for publishers in a privacy-first future. Privacy-preserving APIs such as Privacy Sandbox will be one important solution, and Google’s publisher platforms, Google Ad Manager and AdSense, will build support for these solutions so publishers don't have to put in significant effort to benefit from these technologies. First-party data will also continue to be an important strategy, and publishers who have built first-party relationships will continue to be able to provide personalized ad experiences to those audiences. To help publishers make use of their first-party relationships, we are working on further developing tools that allow publishers of all sizes to activate data from user engagement on their own sites.


If a publisher chooses to use a third-party identity solution, how will that work in practice?


We are experimenting with tools that enable publishers to share encrypted signals, such as first-party identifiers or third-party identity solutions, directly with the partners of their choice. With this solution, Google Ad Manager will provide the infrastructure through which publishers may pass signals to the third-party bidders they choose. Google will not be able to read or decrypt the signals, preserving the confidentiality of the relationship between publishers and their partners.


How will Google Ad Manager customers indicate they want to call FLEDGE or FLoC IDs? How will this work alongside other monetization approaches?


Our goal is to provide publishers with monetization strategies that work best for their businesses. This includes allowing buyers that may be using different buying approaches and signals to compete for publisher inventory in an auction. At a high level, in the case of Google’s advertising products, our sell-side products (Ad Manager/AdSense) will retrieve FLoC IDs from the browser API and pass those to buying partners, including DV3 and Google Ads. DV3/Google Ads will use that information along with other information like the context of the page to inform which interests that impression may be assigned to. We are still working out the details of how customers will indicate these preferences and how auctions that make use of various monetization approaches will best work together, but we remain committed to creating the optimum experience for our publisher customers.


What options do advertisers have to reach specific audiences on Google properties?  What about across 3rd-party inventory?


Building great relationships with your customers has always been critical to a successful business. And we’ll continue to support first party data on our own properties through solutions like Customer Match and audiences on Google Ads and YouTube Likewise, we’ll continue to enable advertisers’ direct relationships with publishers to reach their audiences. And of course, through the use of privacy-preserving APIs such as FLoC, Google ad buying products will offer audience selection capabilities to advertisers across inventory available within our buying tools inventory.


What changes vis-a-vis Ads Data Hub as a result of this announcement?


Ads Data Hub is a valuable tool that enables advertisers to unlock insights, improve advertising efficiency, and yield more effective campaign optimization. In a privacy-forward future driven by first-party data, automation, and Privacy Sandbox, ADH will remain an important tool for helping advertisers meet their business goals. As with all of our products, we continue to assess how to ensure ADH continues to deliver performance in a privacy-centric manner.


How are Google’s advertising products controlling frequency and recency?


Measurement is a critical use case and there is work being done to create Privacy Sandbox APIs to address different measurement use cases, including reach and frequency. We recently published a blog post that explains how the latest proposals in the Privacy Sandbox can solve for key conversion measurement use cases on the web while preserving privacy.


Discussions around the development of the Privacy Sandbox APIs, including for the measurement use cases, are currently taking place within the W3C, where many in the industry are actively contributing feedback and recommendations as these and other measurement solutions develop. We encourage PRAM members to review the proposals, participate in the conversation, and stay tuned for more updates.