Google to Use Machine Learning to Control Ad Frequency in the Absence of Third-Party Cookies

October 11, 2019




Cookies are literally the smartest elements out there in the internet world right now. Acting as messages passed on from web pages and stored in web browsers, these software text files help web browsers obtain relevant information about users’ browsing activities and present advertisements to the users accordingly, based on logical predictions about their browsing habits and preferences. Typically, cookies may either be generated directly by the website that you visit (i.e. first-party cookies) or by a third-party, typically an advertiser (third-party cookies). But what if these third-party cookies are not present in a certain website that the user is visiting? To address this issue and do away with absolute dependency on third-party cookies, Google has decided to leverage the highly advanced and trending machine learning technology. What does this mean to individual browsers, website operators, advertisers and agencies offering paid media and digital marketing solutions? Let’s take a look.


How Does the ‘Cookie’ Crumble?


In its latest announcement, Google has declared that it would make use of machine learning to control the frequency of ad displays even in the absence of third-party cookies. Leveraging this technique, advanced machine learning technology would first be used to analyse viewing patterns in the presence of third-party cookies. ML would typically utilize this information to study user behaviour and predict his/her viewing preferences. Based on this analysis, it would then arrive at a logical inference as to how frequently these advertisements should be presented to the particular user. The technology then displays these advertisements to the viewer even in the absence of third-party cookies, on the basis of the inferences it may have drawn in their presence.


The Significance of this Major Development


Following the frequent and innovative updates carried out by Apple to its Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) installed in Safari, Google has had to majorly rework its methodologies of obtaining user information. This also stems from the fact that the ITP upgrades (as part of Apple’s strict privacy measures) are increasingly preventing advertisers and website operators from making use of cookies. Such upgrades have necessitated some major technical changes to be carried out in Google’s tracking algorithms and may help the leading search engine to avoid relying excessively on third-party cookies.

Users may also rest assured in terms of concerns about a possible breach in privacy as a result of the new technology, as Google assures its users that their data would be extensively aggregated before its machine learning algorithms are applied. Further, the company also suggests that it would honour the Do Not Track feature, thus respecting a user’s choice to surf the net without their activities being observed.

Google’s major decision to apply Machine Learning as a substantial part of its tracking features (at the moment announced for display and video ads) comes across as a promising solution to avoid excessive reliance on cookies. We hope Google is able to successfully leverage this upcoming feature while also continuing to uphold the privacy of its millions of individual users and websites, advertisers and SEO services providers who continue to make use of Google on a daily basis.

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