Info-tech

Indian start-ups oppose Google’s new ad platform

Debangana Ghosh Mumbai | Updated on August 11, 2021

Google cites the need to maintain the privacy of users as the key reason for the new platform   -  Getty Images

Fear tech giant turning gatekeeper of both browser and digital ad distribution market

After forcing Google to cut commission rates on Play Store, Indian start-ups are now opposing the technology giant’s move to block third party cookies for digital ads on Chrome browser.

While Google claimed that maintaining privacy of users was the key reason for the new platform — Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) — start-ups say this raises the danger of Google becoming the gatekeeper of both the browser and the digital advertisement distribution market.

Same playbook

“They are adopting the same playbook — extending the deadline and positioning the technology as a better alternative for maintaining privacy — but the real issue is that third party cookies are the backbone of how a lot of internet works. It is very decentralised and democratised. if FLoC gets implemented, it would pose its own set of challenges,” Sijo Kuruvilla George, Executive Director, Alliance of Digital India Foundation (ADIF), told BusinessLine.

ADIF is a non-profit body representing the Indian start-up ecosystem. It has over 210 members, including Paytm, Matrimony.com, MapMyIndia, GoQii Innov8, and Sheroes.

“Google already has a monopoly on search and browser through Chrome, and with FLoC, there’s a danger of Google becoming the gatekeeper and that would give it more market dominance, which would put other players in the internet economy at a disadvantage,” he added.

Tracking user activity

Third party cookies are used to track user activity such as the pages and sites visited and an individual’s general interests on the internet. In contrast, FLoC explores ways for browsers to group people with similar browsing habits so that ad tech companies can observe the habits of large groups instead of the activity of individuals. Ad targeting could then be partly based on the group a person falls into.

Suits Google best

“FLoC is designed to suit Google’s objectives and not publishers’. Removing third party cookies is good move, but the issue is that the dependence of publishers on Google further increases,” Vivek Khandelwal, founder, iZooto, and a member of ADIF told BusinessLine.

“Also, attribution goes for a toss. For instance, now, if a user sees an ad on a news website and goes and buys the product, the company would know that the news website redirected this customer. The customer can be a high-value consumer buying a washing machine or may be buying a simple notebook. These details are visible to the company website selling the product. With FLoC, tthis won’t be possible to track or at least there’s no clarity yet on the customer conversion attribution,” he added

Published on August 10, 2021

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