WTF is Google Topics?

Februar 25, 2022

Google’s targeting solution, FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts), is officially scrapped.

Google is now proposing something they call „Topics API“.

In this article, we cover the differences, what it means for user privacy – but most importantly, what it means for advertisers and digital marketers.

The third-party cookie will crumble, and the FLoC is not a replacement. Will Google Topics be the knight in shining armour?

Before we answer that, let’s answer the question, ‚what is Topics?‘

And what’s the difference between FLoCs and Topics? 

The Difference Between FLoC and Topics

Both FLoCs and Topics are part of the so-called „Privacy Sandbox“ which was created to find alternatives to third-party cookies.

The Privacy Sandbox is not a replacement for third-party cookies since it will not be able to target users based on their browsing behavior or provide conversion attribution.

FLoC is a form of ad targeting in the absence of third-party cookies. It groups data within a user’s browser and creates anonymized groups in which advertisers can target people.

To put it short, you’d be targeting groups of people rather than individual behaviors. 

Topics API has the same foundation as FLoC. Both variations follow website visits to categorize your interests. 

So what exactly differences are there between the two?

It primarily comes down to how the data is managed.

In FLoC, the browser would share all of your learned interests with any site that asked. Sharing what it learned about you anywhere. While of course still valuing user privacy. 

The Topics API improves the situation slightly by letting an advertis­er on Site A learn your interests from Site 1, if and only when that advertiser was also on Site 2. 

How are Topics used in advertising?

Topics categorize visits to websites and attribute this to interests.

To put it shortly, Google Topics aims to give users relevant ads and advertisers some sort (though limited) of audience targeting. Basically

As Google puts it „by providing websites with your topics of interest, online businesses have an option that doesn’t involve covert tracking techniques, like browser fingerprinting, in order to continue serving relevant ads.“

The browser also collects a few of the most frequent topics associated with the website visits.

These topics are then shared with websites to help advertisers show more relevant ads, without needing to know the specific sites a user has visited.

Many online businesses are concerned that the Topics API for targeting will be too broad to be useful for a marketer’s purposes.

So, could Topics be used as a replacement for third-party cookies? Well, no.

But no one really expected it to be either. The truth is, it’s hard to imagine that any solution within the Privacy Sandbox will act as a replacement. 

Category based targeting based on topics.

The future of digital advertising

The future of effective digital advertising is not through a Google-supplied solution. Once third-party cookies are removed from Google Chrome the solution lies with advertising partners.

For example, Unified ID 2.0 is an approach gaining traction. And has the support of most larger ad exchanges such as Xandr and The Trade Desk. 

Unified ID 2.0 is a collective industry effort to create identifiers for users on the internet while maintaining user privacy. It will act as a new, improved version of cookies as an identifier

Open-source solutions such as Unified ID 2.0 are a result of broad collaboration among publishers, tech providers, and buyers.

The willingness to adapt and develop a new solution to improve tracking and user privacy is a high priority for ad tech companies in 2022. 

The solution is a collaboration between different advertising solutions. The IAB’s 3rd party data task force is currently investigating ways of identifying users and different contextual ways of targeting.

The ad tech industry will propose something far better than anything from Google’s Privacy Sandbox. v

Maybe, even better targeting than third-party cookies.

Why Match2One stays agnostic

A lot is changing in the digital advertising landscape. 

As a programmatic advertising platform, Match2One stays agnostic to the solutions being presented. Our team will continue to study the proposed solutions.

The future programmatic advertising ecosystem will be more flexible, and Match2One‘s platform will integrate with the highest-performing solution.

Match2One acts as a filter to help clients manage the transition from the current way of digital advertising to the post-third party cookie landscape.

Google’s move was big news, but it wasn’t surprising. The entire ad tech community has been working together on developing an ad tech solution that benefits brands, publishers, and users.

If you want to know more, contact us for a strategy call with one of our specialists.

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Jonathan Olsson

Jonathan Olsson

Head of Marketing

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