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2021 SMX Advanced Conference Takeaway: FLoC & Turtledove
Digital Marketing , Web Analytics , Trends

2021 SMX Advanced Conference Takeaway: FLoC & Turtledove

Members of our digital marketing team recently attended the 2021 SMX Advanced Conference, and just as we’d hoped, we learned some things. Two of the big topics at the conference were FLoC and Turtledove. To my disappointment, I learned that this has nothing to do with a flock of birds. It comprises Google’s workarounds to third-party cookies being blocked in the future, which is not nearly as exciting, but perhaps more important. Because most advertisers use third-party cookies to reach their target audiences, this is a substantial change in how advertisers will be able to operate. 


What Are FLoC and Turtledove, Again, Exactly?

Currently, browsers use cookies to deliver personalized ads to people. If you tend to read a lot of articles about gardening, your browser cookies indicate that you have a general interest in home and garden, which allows advertisers to target you with home and garden ads. With cookies going away to increase user privacy, FLoC will allow browsers to continue to use interest-based advertising without cookies. 

Turtledove is Google’s workaround solution to remarketing. When you visit an airline website, for example, and start seeing ads for specials on tickets, your browser cookies are again behind the scenes making it possible for you to see that ad. Turtledove will allow advertisers to continue these remarketing campaigns while protecting user privacy in an approach similar to FLoC. 


So What’s An Advertiser To Do Without Cookies?

Instead of using third-party cookies in the future, advertisers will have to primarily rely on first-party data, which is data that they collect themselves. The best way to do this? Build out your email list. 

Getting email addresses can feel like pulling teeth sometimes, though. And people are about as likely to fill out a long, cumbersome form as they are to recommend Milwaukee as a travel destination in February. People don’t need a reason to not fill out a form, so keep them short and sweet. Only ask for name and email in a newsletter signup or ebook download, and you can collect more information about them, like company, job title, and phone number in future interactions. 

You Have First-party Data. Now What?

 Most platforms (think Google Ads, LinkedIn, and Facebook), allow advertisers to upload email lists and serve ads to these people based on their email address. It’s an excellent way to reach an already warm audience, so this should be a high-priority to-do item for all companies who advertise.

The top caveat is that in order to upload an email list to an advertising platform, you need between 1,000 - 10,000 email addresses for it to be effective. We have until 2023 before Chrome switches over, but it can take years to build a list of that size, and that’s why it’s important to start now. 

Although the technology behind some digital advertising methods will be changing, there’s no need to panic or abandon your current marketing efforts. As long as you and your agency partners have a solid plan to gather first-party data, you’ll be well ahead of any changes Google has in store.


Need help planning for a post-cookie world? Get in touch with our team at

Chloe Derse

Chloe Derse

Associate SEM Specialist

Chloe has helped bring a variety of digital projects to life including websites, email marketing campaigns, and Google Ad campaigns. She takes a break from the digital world by hiking, and hopes to someday hike the Blue Ridge Mountains.

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