A search engine advertising company. Woe is Google. Yes, Google has more money on hand than Apple (thanks to someone who decided that keeping money is better than giving it away), but it cannot escape the growing tide of anti-cookie, anti-ad trackers in the world.
Must. Have. Cookies.
Here’s the basic deal. Online advertisers have grown fat and rich by gathering ever more information about our online activities, then combining that information with data bought elsewhere, and uses it all to serve up ever more ad campaigns designed to help segregate us from our money. Or, worse, change our thinking about politics, religion, and what constitutes a good life.
Google says that’s a bad idea. Bad idea? For whom? Timothy B. Lee.
Google has a problem: it makes most of its money selling ads. Adopting the same aggressive cookie blocking techniques as its rivals could prevent Google’s customers from targeting ads—potentially hurting Google’s bottom line.
Who is getting hurt? Me, the interwebs browser user peppered with tracking ads? Or, search engine behemoth Google?
Blocking cookies without another way to deliver relevant ads significantly reduces publishers’ primary means of funding, which jeopardizes the future of the vibrant Web
What’s the solution? Fingerprinting.
Google also warns that completely blocking tracking cookies will cause ad networks to resort to browser fingerprinting as an alternative means of tracking users. Under this technique, a site harvests many small pieces of data about a user’s browser—browser version, fonts installed, extensions active, screen size, and so forth—to generate a “fingerprint” that uniquely identifies a particular device.
Fingerprinting is tracking and it can get blocked, too, so Google is against it. For now.
Instead, the search engine giant figures it has enough private data already, and users are easily tracked already, so why not throw up a limit on what gets tracked? Think of it as a cap on how much information an ad tracker needs.
Google says it’s working on a new approach called a “privacy budget.” Under this approach, the browser would impose a hard cap on the amount of information any site could request from the browser that might reveal a user’s identity. If a site exceeded the cap, the browser would either throw an error or it would return deliberately inaccurate or generic information.
Uh-huh. Sure. That’ll work.
What Google wants is a typical technology sandbox approach where advertisers can serve more relevant advertising to users but reduces their ability to track individual users. Remember, Google is the largest online advertiser so the company is talking about itself, so don’t expect too many changes to the bottom line.
The real issues should be more obvious. Most of us want less advertising, not more. Most of us who understand how this works– culling private information from users– want less culling, not more. Google and advertisers have many, many other methods to gather user information (they’re doing that already).
It should be noted that most of the so-called targeted advertising is pure rubbish and not well targeted at all. Just like advertising of yesteryear.