Google Overhauls its Cookie Replacement Plan

Alphabet, Google’s parent company, revealed that it is working on a new user tracking system to replace the use of third-party advertisement cookies. The announcement arrives after Google faced harsh criticism for its previous cookie replacement plan.

Google’s first plan aimed to replace the use of cookies by allowing advertisers to target ads based on tens of thousands of small groups whose members have similar browsing histories. This plan prompted considerable pushback from regulators, privacy advocates, and Google’s rivals in the ad-tech industry.

Google’s new system will classify users into groups based on much broader interest categories, such as users interested in “travel”, users interested in “fitness”, and users interested in “auto and vehicles”. The categorization will be performed weekly, based on the users’ Internet browsing history over the preceding three weeks, but will only consider users’ activity on participating sites (i.e., sites using Google’s ad tools). While five interest categories will be assigned to each user each week, only up to three will be shared with participating websites. Alphabet insists that these changes will make it harder to identify users or access users’ potentially sensitive information such as race or sexual orientation.