Earlier this year, Google decided to ditch its original third-party cookie’s ad targeting alternative, FLoC, which came under fire for still being too invasive. Instead, the search engine giant introduced a new alternative to their original ‘privacy-centric’ alternative - Topics API.
According to TechCrunch, “The idea behind Topics is that your browser will learn about your interests as you move around the web. It’ll keep data for the last three weeks of your browsing history and will be restricting the number of topics to 300. Google notes that these topics will not include any sensitive categories like gender or race”. When you visit a website, Topics will show the site/advertisers “just three of your interests”.
So, for example, if you recently visited sites about baking, the browser will know that ‘baking’ is one of your topics.
All these ‘topics’ will help determine the ads you’ll see (without specific sites needing to know all your background information in order to show you ‘baking’ ads). Interestingly, users will be able to control their topics, removing any that may not be relevant or turning off Topics altogether. Most importantly, specific sites won’t be.
In short, its Google’s attempt in replacing third-party cookies, but still identifying people’s online behavior without digging too deep into their privacy concerns while still preserving different companies’ ability to target their ads.
We decided to take a closer look at how Topics API is being discussed on the web, specifically in newsletters, YouTube videos, and, of course, podcasts. Here’s what publishers have to say about this Google alternative.
Stacked Marketer has mentioned Google’s new third-party cookies alternative a number of times over the last few weeks, most recently taking closer look at the topics in Topics API:
Marketing Brew, in true Marketing Brew fashion, gave us a quick, easy-to-understand breakdown of Google’s latest replacement for third-party cookies.
While most publications attempted to give a politically-correct explanation about Topics API, dipping their unsure toes into the new third-party cookies alternative, Digiday hit the nail on the head. Let’s be honest, when Google announced Topics API we were all thinking - WTF is Google’s Topics?
Here’s a quick video about Topics API with a humorous touch:
Kelly and Company focus on everything from sharing information about parenting to finance and technology. On February 18th, the podcast touched on Google’s third-party cookies alternative, Topics API.
“Google Topics which is basically an anonymized version of cookies that tracks the types of content you're looking at but not your specific personal information. This sounds like although Google didn't come out and completely say it, this is Google's version of the ‘do not track’ functionality in iOS for Android….They can't say ‘do not track’ or they can't use the same kinds of things that Apple's using or is it just that literally, they don't want us to think that this is the exact same thing? There are differences, I think. It's a hybrid of that, I think there is probably some language that that is let's call it proprietary. But, Google, I don't think, wants to come out and say that they're doing this - they don't want to admit that the entire business model is advertising and selling and marketing your personal information. It’s sort of almost like politicians speak about how they're not tracking you but they still are. And, Apple thinks they're the thought leaders. Of late, we're seeing a bit more of Google and Apple, the two huge players and Microsoft coming closer together in some of these things right but they still seem to be doing everything in their own ways. Apple has their way and Google has their way and Microsoft just won't you know give into any of that and the language itself can be confusing for anyone who's thinking ‘is this the same stuff?’. You have to follow the money - Apple doesn't have any financial interest in advertising per se like Google does so that's why Google's being a little bit more cautious about their wording… maybe a little more nebulous about it. Microsoft is kind of in the middle, in the sense, they don't have any direct advertising platforms but they certainly support third-party platforms.”
It’s interesting to see a podcast that isn’t specifically technology or marketing-based touch on this topic. It truly emphasizes the impact this alternative will have on just about anyone using the web.
Ignite Visibility is a professional Internet marketing company - so its pretty clear why they dedicated an entire video about Google Topics - focusing on what it is, how it will change up the cookies-sphere (or lack thereof), and where FLoC disappeared to.
Google has recently reminded us that those pesky third-party cookies in Chrome will be gone by 2023. But, it seems like Google, just like many of us, is scrambling to nail an alternative. If you’d like to get more information about how ThoughtLeaders can confidently prepare you for the cookie-less world, don’t hesitate to reach out.