Google has announced a new feature called Topics, which is set to replace FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts). This new feature will block digital tracking cookies and focus on the individual, rather than overall browsing history trends for groups of people. This will allow users to be more anonymous while also allowing for an easier way for people to opt-out if they so choose. We'll go over all the details of this new feature in this blog post!
How does “Topics” work?
Google Chrome, the browser, will determine a set of topics that are of high interest to an individual. There will be five topics associated with a user who is using the chrome browser. The topics are stored for 3 weeks and the data sets will be processed on the device that the individual is using. No external servers will be used. Google claims that 300 topics will be studied at all times. These topics will be a combination of IAB’s content Taxonomy V2 and Google’s taxonomy. Another valuable point to keep in mind is that if the publisher decides not to participate in Topics no data will be recorded and registered by Google.
This is an important question and let's dive into it. FLoC was based on a cohort of select publishers and advertisers that were going to decide that specific data sets would be applicable. Also, through FLoC, a user's browser data would be assigned to a cohort to analyze and study on a weekly basis. The methodology of application was opaque and did not garner support from other advertisers and media companies in the industry.
Topics on the other hand according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation has a fingerprinting technique that is able to differentiate between a user from other users even though they might be in the same cohort. The weekly topic-related data collected is shared amongst different publishers and advertisers. Additionally, this is a major defining difference between FLoC and Topics API.
Through Topics API the users can be targeted contextually regarding other unrelated topics too. For example, if a user is on a sports news website they can be targeted with Formal clothing ads. The reason for this is that topics have a 3-week window for which they collect user data. So if the user had browsed for formal clothing then they are within that time window to receive an ad based on their browsing history.
Currently, Chrome is the only browser that is going be adopt Topics API. The other prominent browsers like Safari, Firefox, and Edge have yet to make any announcements on whether they would like to proceed with Topics API or not.
From an advertiser's perspective, this change is definitely something to keep an eye on. Given the privacy law changes with GDPR, CCPA, and CPRA Google is trying to ensure that they follow new governing laws and standards. The lack of adoption of FLoC was a cause of concern for Google. Additionally, they run into legal issues with FLoC with certain European publishers. Advertisers will definitely consider how they might want to shift their focus towards contextual targeting in order to take advantage of Topics' capabilities. Keep in mind that there are some restrictions on what kinds of ads can be shown, but as long as Topics works within those bounds you'll be able to target users more effectively than ever before!
To get a deeper understanding of how contextual targeting works get in touch with us to AdSkate.
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