What the FLoC?

DumDum's DigiDigest 1 Feb 2021

Welcome to DumDum’s DigiDigest. Yes, it’s a lot of D’s.

The DigiDigest is home to all the news from the digital marketing and tech worlds that you need to grow your business.


First off, FLoCs. What the FLoC is a FLoC, you ask?

Well, the writing’s on the wall for third-party cookies. These are the ones that businesses use to follow you around the web with adverts.

Websites and marketers have spent 25 years using them to track user behaviour. But they aren’t great for privacy.

And privacy’s the next big battleground between Facebook, Google and Apple. Apple have made the first move. Their next IOS version will give all users the opportunity to opt out of tracking.

So Google are throwing their weight behind a new method of ad delivery called Federated Learning of Cohorts.

A FLoC is a group of several thousand people who share the same characteristics.

Tracking code will only identify which FLoC a user belongs to. It won’t be a unique identifier anymore. Which preserves user privacy – advertisers won’t know what YOU have been doing. Just what the FLoC as a whole has been up to.

Google believe FLoC technology is good enough to capture 95% of the revenue you’d earn using interest-based audiences generated from cookies.

What does it mean?

Well, the big announcement from Google was completely schtum on one thing: remarketing. You know, where after visiting a website you then get hammered by their adverts on every other site you go to.

So we can assume traditional remarketing will be dead in a post-cookie world.

The other big change is toward first party data. Most digital advertising involves us paying big tech companies for their data.

It looks like the future will involve businesses using their own data to identify ad recipients.

So if you want to contact your web visitors, you’ll need to collect their details yourself.

My View

It’s always been better to own your own data. Having an email database (your data) is better than having a large following of Facebook users (Facebook’s data).

FLoCs will make other people’s data less accurate. It’ll increase advertising costs. But it will make the web a better place.

You now need to check your owned data. Are your email lists growing? Is your website capturing leads for your mailing list? Do you know your churn and conversion rates?

If the answer to any of these is no, now’s the time to start work.


I came across this great article by Radek Sienkiewicz earlier this week.

One of the things I often hear is “Can we make this look like what xxx competitor has just done?”

Usually straight after we’ve agreed on a style. I’ve even been asked to rebuild an email in a competitor’s brand colours.

But Radek’s article shows that the lemming effect is a problem for even the most iconic brands.

My view

My daughter isn’t quite old enough for the “if everyone else jumped off a cliff, would you?” speech. She’s 18 months old, and tries to throw herself down the stairs daily.

But you’re not a toddler. The whole point of branding is to stand out from the competion. If you’re trying to grow market share, making it easier for customers to confuse you for a competitor seems odd.

Following the crowd often seems safer than trying something different. But taking the ‘safe’ option and copying the competition might mean you’re following the wrong lemming.

What I’m reading

Photo of Scott Galloway's book Post Corona

Post Corona by Scott Galloway

I’m about a third of the way through. Slow going for me, but I’m snatching pages whilst the tiny shouty one is watching Paw Patrol.

The themes wont be new to anyone who subscribes to Prof Galloway’s No Mercy, No Malice blog. Indeed, some of the book feels like it’s lifted straight from the blog.

So far there are two important takeaways. The first is the Great Leap Forward. The idea the pandemic has pushed people’s behaviours 10 years forward overnight.

The second takeaway is the two privacy based business models that are emerging. You can either pay nothing or little for a product, but pay the difference in privacy and data, (think Facebook, or as Galloway suggests, low cost airlines).

Or you can pay a premium for the product, confident that your data remains private. That’s the approach Apple are taking, and why Google is investing so much into FLoCs.

Post Corona is very focused on the bigger economic picture in the US, and tech/media in particular. But there’s still a lot of good stuff in here for anyone who’s trying to envision where their business needs to be in 2025 and beyond.

Tool of the Week

You know how sometimes you click on a email link and it prepopulates stuff like the subject? Mailtolink.me is a nice little tool to generate the linking code automatically.

It’s a bit of a niche tool, but using different subject lines is a good trick to track where people are finding your email address.

Rather than try to explain, here’s one I prepared earlier:

Click me

That’s it for this week

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