January 26

Google introduces Topics API, new ad targeting and user privacy solution.


Say Goodbye to FLoC, Google Introduces Topics API as New User Privacy and Advertiser Targeting Solution

Topics Utilizes Users’ Previous Three Weeks of Browsing History

On January 25, 2022, Google announced Topics, their new Privacy Sandbox solution – a replacement for their previous proposal, FLoC.

Wait, What is FLoC?

FLoC, the Federated Learning of Cohorts, aimed to give advertisers a targeting solution that protected the privacy of web users by removing the individual from the situation entirely. Instead, FLoC would group people together who have similar interests: dog lovers, shoe shoppers, hockey fans, cooking enthusiasts, etc.

Advertisers wouldn’t have had access to any individual information, like cookie-based advertising does,  but they would be able to target these groups of thousands to achieve their marketing goals.

FLoC was not well received during initial trials by internet privacy experts and general community feedback was negative. 

FLoC is dead, y’all.

Let’s Talk About Topics API

Under the new Topics targeting regime, your web browser will determine a handful of topics or interest categories based on the last three weeks of your browsing history.

Topics may include Health and Wellness, Travel, Fitness or Sports.

Here’s the thing about your Topics, they are erased after three weeks.

When you visit a website that participates in the Google advertising network, Topics chooses three topics, one each from the previous three weeks, and shares that information with the partner website and the related advertisers.

Here’s the next big kicker – Chrome will have updated privacy and transparency rules in settings where users can:

  • View the topics they’ve been assigned
  • Remove topics you don’t like
  • Or turn off the Topics feature entirely

User Privacy is All the Rage These Days

As a human who utilizes the internet in their daily life, I’m super jazzed about all the steps forward big tech companies are making with user privacy recently.

Apple is allowing iPhone owners to turn off app tracking completely. 

Facebook has reduced attribution windows from 28 to 7 days and limited the number of conversions advertisers can track down to 8.

Google is now removing cookie-based advertising, and like Apple, under Topics we will be able to fully turn off this tracking system. 

These are all great steps forward.

Google plans to implement these updates at the end of 2022.

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