Google Discontinues Using Browser History for Ad Targeting

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Google and browser history tracking are closely connected. Users browse the web, Google keeps a record of their browsing patterns and sells this data to advertisers. This business model is one of the secrets behind Google’s tremendous success.

But surprisingly, in March 2021, Google officially announced that they would no longer be using user browser history. They made the decision to stop ad tracking due to current concerns about online privacy related to advertising methods.

It is one of the most significant shifts in a company’s business model, especially when the company is as large-scale as Google. Moreover, this news is music to the ears of privacy advocates. But, before you all get excited, let us break it to you what their next strategy is going to be.

Although Google has discontinued using your browsing history, it upgraded its strategy and devised a new business model. Now, Google will focus more on groups instead of individuals.

According to a statement by Google’s Director of Product Management, Ads Privacy, and Trust, David Temkin, “People shouldn’t have to accept being tracked across the web in order to get the benefits of relevant advertising. And advertisers don’t need to track individual consumers across the web to get the performance benefits of digital advertising.”

He also assured users that Google would stop creating new tools that allow tracking user data across all its products. It means numerous Google services, and theoretically, even your smartphone will no longer be tracking your browsing history.

So, what does it mean? How will Google make money with the updated business model?

When Google says it won’t track individual user data, you should focus on the word individual. Google will still mine user data and use it to sell ads, but it will focus on groups instead of single users.

So, Google will now use privacy-centric APIs to get the data. It has already tested new APIs, and the new privacy controls have been functional since April 2021. Google APIs categorize users into different groups and monitor each group separately. So, in other words, you will continue contributing data to Google, but instead of doing it individually, you will do so collectively.

Let’s understand it through an example.

You are a frequent user of a pet website. When you visit the site, your activity will pool with other visitors of the same site. Then, Google will inform advertisers that users who visit this pet website also like these products, services, or websites. As a result, the entire group will see relevant ads through advertisers.

So, to conclude, Google’s business model may have changed, but it will not stop mining data from its users. The process has been modified, and no individual user will be targeted now, but collective data will be sold to advertisers.

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