It’s widely known that other browsers are forcing Google to search for other methods to serve targeted ads without breaking any GDPR law. Google’s goal always was to push personalized ads. There has to be a privacy-friendly way to do that. Well, here it is. Google’s has brought up a new concept for their Privacy Sandbox: the Topics API.
This Topics API will replace the latest and first concept FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts). Chrome experimented with it in 2021. But based on the received feedback from regulators, privacy advocates, and developers, they choose to take a different approach. The old idea was to replacing tracking cookies by locally generated browsing data. Based on that data, it would put users into cohorts. Advertisers then had the choice to target people in these cohorts. It sounded good, but it is risky for even more fingerprinting. Basically, it wasn’t good enough for a new era of tagging. More detailed information about FLoC can be found in this white paper.
This newly designed Topics API will select topics of interest based on your browsing history without communicating to external servers. 😲
How does the Topic API work?
You can split the new concept of ‘Topics’ into two main parts. Their new API will scan every individual website and label them with a general label, like “Bar” or “Hotel”. These labels will be saved to your browser. This will generate a list of topics in which you are interested. It is saved locally in your browser. You will be able to block specific topics or opt-out completely.
The second part is that your topics will be shared with the site that will serve your ads. They will not know which sites you visited before. There will be around 350 topics, also some random ones will be added. That is good for your privacy because it will reduce the risk of fingerprinting.
Google will start with 300 topics. It’s not sure how much these will be in the end. For the curious ones out there, you can find them all here.
Should I already prepare for this update?
It is Google’s job to value the data they have from their consumers. For marketeers, the path is pretty logical and straightforward. Only use zero- and first-party data. That means that you only use data the consumer wants your brand to have.
- Ensure that your website complies with the GDPR laws;
- Try to avoid third-party cookies;
- Focus on data (potential) customers want you to have. Don’t harvest data in sneaky ways. When you find ways that work for you and your customers, your company will build trust. More quality data you can harvest, means more opportunities to engage, and higher returns on marketing spend. 😎
If you follow these 3 rules, hold tight while the industry awaits further information on Topics.
Where did FLEDGE go?
It’s still in development! ⚙️ FLEDGE is used for something different from the Topics API. This proposal is to serve remarketing and custom audience use cases, designed so it cannot be used by third parties to track user browsing behavior across sites. The API enables on-device auctions by the browser, to choose relevant ads from websites the user has previously visited.
I will post a new knowledge article how FLEDGE works later this month. Curious how this works? Try this interactive demo!
What we can expect
Google’s way of tagging has to and will change rapidly. It is still unclear when exactly because this concept is just published straight from Google their drawing board. Time will tell when other browsers will approve and implement it. Google expects to have all Privacy Sandbox APIs available in Q4 2022. Stay up to date their their roadmap.