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Let’s Get Topical!

By: Jose D'Windt    April 1, 2022

A brief summary of Topics – Google’s new solution for targeting in the cookie-less future

Google presented Topics in January 2022 as its new proposal to support interest-based advertising beyond the third-party cookie, stepping away from its FLoC initiative in a movement that caught most of the industry by surprise.

Google’s new proposal moves away from the cohorts – groups of individuals with similar interests based on their internet behavior – and toward the new topics, which is a list of general interests that is meant to be used to categorize all users based on their web browser activity.

The way Topics works is that the web browser is going to analyze each user’s site visits and interaction history to generate a list of their interests, or topics. The topics will be selected from a list of more than 300 interests that is created by Google and based on IAB’s Content Taxonomy V2.

Every three weeks, each user will be assigned three different topics by Google, selected randomly from its Top 5 list. Those topics, which will be as broadly named as Fitness or Sports, will be passed on to the websites to identify that user’s list of interests in a way that can be used by advertisers for targeting.

OK, but how is this different from FLoC?

One of the key reasons the FLoC initiative was taken out of the picture was that the intricate way the so-called cohorts were going to be created – by using many data points to identify the user’s interests but assigning them to individual groups – still allowed for the possibility to understand interests on an individual user basis, as major internet players such as Mozilla and GitHub pointed out with clear examples.

Topics plans to solve that problem by randomizing the way an individual is assigned an interest and how those interests are passed down to the brands that want to target them with ads. Since Topics will allow advertisers to target only broad categories that will be fully reset every three weeks, the chances of identifying an individual and assigning an ID reduces exponentially.

Stay tuned for more news about Topics and the future beyond the third-party cookie!