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Google Topics: How the new google API update works?

July 6, 2022 3 min read


Google Topics: How the new google API update works?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

With consumers becoming more aware of how their data is being used by companies, the concern around user data privacy is rising. Protecting user data has moved to the forefront of the digital advertising world. Many big tech companies are working on ways to allow users to control who they share their data with.

After FLoC, Google Topics is Google’s latest proposal for privacy-friendly advertising.

Wondering what it is and how it works?

Let’s dive deeper and have a closer look at this new update.

What is Google Topics?

Topics is Google’s privacy-friendly proposal to serve as a replacement for third-party tracking cookies. Based on the website a user has visited, it allocates them a set of interests which are then shared with participating websites and ad tech companies. This then allows advertisers to run targeted ads without keeping user privacy at stake.

Though the technology is still in the early stages of testing, Topics API is Google’s attempt to create a balance between ad personalization and user privacy in the post-cookie industry.

How does Topics work?

Let’s understand this in three simple steps-

  • This browser-based system will label websites with a topic based on the sites’ hostname.
  • Topics will be associated with a user depending on their browsing behavior.
  • These topics will be then shared with participating websites that will use this information to serve targeted ads to users.

Point to be noted – Each topic is kept only for three weeks. After three weeks, the topic is deleted and the process is repeated.

What was the FLoC and why was it abandoned?

Google Topics preserves user-privacy

FLoC was Google’s first proposal for cookie tracking that focused on interest-based advertising. It aimed to preserve users’ information while still allowing advertisers to serve personalized ads.

The FLoC approach monitored a user’s browsing behavior through a browser-based tracking system. Based on this information, it then assigned a specific interest group to each user, enabling advertisers to run targeted ads.

But what was supposed to be an online privacy protector, turned out to be a potential privacy invader, which is why it received a barrage of criticism soon after its release.

The main issue was that FLoc enabled fingerprinting – a method to stealthily collect small pieces of data about a user’s device to create a unique profile for that user which can subsequently be used to track them online.

Even though these seemingly insignificant pieces of data may not appear very useful on their own, when combined, they can produce profiles that are incredibly accurate.

This was the reason why Google scrapped its FLoC scheme and introduced ‘Google Topics’.

So how is Google Topics addressing these concerns?

Topics shares just one category from each weekly batch with a website so each site will likely have a different combination of categories providing users a greater degree of anonymity. Moreover, categories are renewed weekly and only stored for a duration of three weeks, establishing a defined system as to how google tracks and stores data.

Topics also allows users to see which categories they are placed into, remove them as they wish, or even disable Google Topics altogether, providing them more control over their data and the types of advertisements they see.

The resemblance with Contextual Advertising

Google Topics would allow advertisers to target consumers in accordance with their interest in specific topics while preserving user privacy. This proposed feature resembles contextual advertising – a long-established method for targeted advertising.

If Topics becomes a success, it could pave the way for the marketing and advertising community to uncover contextual placements that could be advertising gems in a cookieless world. 

With a focus on improving data privacy, it will probably be a little hard for advertisers to find relevant contextual opportunities. But with VDO.AI’s advanced technology and ability to overcome its reliance on third-party cookies, it can strategically deliver brand messages to target audiences.

VDO.AI helps you keep up with all the latest trends and updates so that you always lead the game when it comes to digital advertising.

Click here to see how you can rise above the noise and get noticed!

Shruti Bhatt is a Marketing Associate at VDO.AI. She likes challenging herself and is always on the hunt for new ways to improve her marketing initiatives.