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What’s the Deal with Google Topics API?

What's the deal with Google Topics?

Move over, FLoC. Google Topics is taking over. Last month, the company unveiled Google Topics API, a new tool designed within the Privacy Sandbox to enable interest-based targeting after third-party cookies are phased out of Chrome. Topics replaces the previously proposed Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) API, which faced a lot of criticism from privacy advocates who suggested the framework didn’t do enough to inhibit fingerprinting.

So what is Google Topics API? 

Simply put, Topics is a new interest-based targeting proposal. It works by determining five interests (topics) a user might have based on their web activity over the course of a week. The browser stores these topics for three weeks, before deleting them. When a user visits a participating site, Topics will select three “topics” to share with the site and its advertising partners. 

The main difference between the previous proposed, FLoC, and the newly introduced Topics API is that Topics provides explicit interests or affinities (up to five); whereas, the cohort system merely grouped the individual into a single “cohort” of identities presumed to act alike.

The Industry Reacts

Will Topics be enough to serve as a sufficient substitute for third-party cookies? Reactions are mixed. Here’s what Lotame’s COO, Mike Woosley, had to say: 

“This type of capability hearkens to contextual advertising techniques circa 2005. Unfortunately, the technology as described would be grossly insufficient for the needs of the majority of modern marketers who require detailed personas to determine marketing voice, segment customers, measure brand affinity, and tune marketing for complex products like insurance with very detailed segmentations.”

Read up on Mike’s POV, while getting the industry’s pulse on the latest Privacy Sandbox proposal, in the following publications: