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Google gives up on FLoC and pushes Topics instead

Google has ended its support of FLoC as a replacement for cookies in internet advertising and has announced a new proposal: Topics.  Quoting TechCrunch:

The idea here 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 as of now, Google is restricting the number of topics to 300, with plans to extend this over time. Google notes that these topics will not include any sensitive categories like gender or race.

To figure out your interests, Google categorizes the sites you visit based on one of these 300 topics. For sites that it hasn’t categorized before, a lightweight machine learning algorithm in the browser will take over and provide an estimated topic based on the name of the domain.

When you hit upon a site that supports the Topics API for ad purposes, the browser will share three topics you are interested in — one for each of the three last weeks — selected randomly from your top five topics of each week. The site can then share this with its advertising partners to decide which ads to show you.

Why do we care?

I don’t often talk about marketing efforts on the show. Still, with digital marketing likely a lead component for most businesses (particularly small ones), proposed changes like this are a big deal. 

The end of the cookie and Apple’s push for privacy on their devices is sending digital marketers scrambling, and with really only two options for digital ads – Google and Meta – these alternative plans matter.

Google couldn’t get FLoC off the ground.    Tracking the Topics play will see how digital advertising is done in the not too distant future.