Recently, Google announced the Topics API as a replacement for FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts), which was one of their first proposals to help marketers contend with the loss of third-party cookies. With Topics, Google is now looking to build on its learnings from FLOC, widen community participation and roll out early testing.
What Does the Topics API do?
Here’s what Google has shared about the Topics API:
“There are two main parts to Topics. First, the API labels each website with a recognizable, high-level topic. For example, the browser would match a sports website with the topic “Sports”. Then, the browser collects a few of the most frequent topics associated with the websites you’ve visited. These topics are then shared (one new topic per week) with the sites you visit to help advertisers show you more relevant ads, without needing to know the specific sites you’ve visited.(you can find this excerpt and more at https://privacysandbox.com/proposals/topics)
The browser will use a limited set of topics selected from a human-curated, publicly visible list. The list proposed contains around 350 topics to reduce the risk of fingerprinting. Additionally, Chrome aims to maintain a topics list that does not include sensitive categories (i.e. race, sexual orientation, religion, etc.).
You will be able to see the topics and remove any you don’t like, or disable them completely in Chrome Settings.”
How to learn more or participate
Google has yet to announce any dates for launching their early testing programs for Topics. You can follow the privacy sandbox site to stay up to date. There’s also a much more detailed technical explainer with community participation. Google shared that they are still gathering community feedback and aren’t quite ready for a group like the W3C to review as a standard.
Actions you can take in the meantime
Outside of waiting for more information on Topics, you should continue to lean on privacy-centric features like server-side measurement to take advantage of numerous benefits, such as the ability to take more control over what information third parties are able to collect. This layers in nicely with evolving consent-backed features and frameworks, like consent mode from Google, which will soon provide behavioral modeling in Google Analytics 4 properties backed by identity-less data collection.
With proper consent, you’ll have new options that aren’t powered by third-party cookies like customer match and enhanced conversions. They’ll likely be essential in measurement and audience activation, and you can use them in new solutions and technologies that can adapt and evolve within the complex landscape we live and work in.
We’ll keep you posted on Topics information as it becomes available. In the meantime, please feel free to contact us with any questions.