Staff Reporters
Apr 1, 2021

Post-cookie battles: Google's FLoC vs SWAN vs Unified ID 2.0

The race for a viable personal identifier has heated up as two different offerings vie for advertisers' attention.

Post-cookie battles: Google's FLoC vs SWAN vs Unified ID 2.0

The brewing battle between Google and the adtech industry to replace the cookie has taken another step with the launch of two distinct offerings from rival camps. While Google has launched FLoC—or Federated Learning of Cohorts—to replace third-party cookies with a process that places people into groups or cohorts based on common interests, a clutch of adtech companies led by Pubmatic, OpenX and Zeta Global have launched a competing offering called SWAN. 

These two initiatives come in addition to anonymous identifier Unified ID 2.0, led by The Trade Desk and operated by Prebid, which has already gotten significant advertiser buy-in.

So what is SWAN? According to a Bloomberg report, when people first visit a website in the SWAN network, they will be asked to give consent for all publishers that use SWAN to show them ads, including an option to be served personalised ones. This preference is then stored in the SWAN network registry and shared with other participants to allow consumers uninterrupted access to content.

The creators of SWAN contend that this system is more open because it allows people to change their preferences anytime. 

In contrast, Google on March 30 started officially testing its solution, FLoC, which anonymously serves ads based on similar behaviour. However, the ad industry remains diffident to this solution, since it is developed entirely by Google and is seen as anti-competitive. In March this year, Google already showed its hand when it stated it wasn't game to replace third party cookies with third-party identifiers. 

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