Fleeing FloC: What Google’s Pivot to “Topics” Means for Your Business
In preparation for Chrome’s move to deprecate the third-party cookie, Google has introduced a number of alternatives in recent years. One of their initial plans was known as FloC—Federated Learning of Cohorts—which worked by grouping users into their interests. However, based on still-existing privacy concerns, Google has scrapped that idea, and instead introduced a new possible solution, called “Topics.”
“Topics” works by enabling the browser to store information about a user for up to three weeks, assigning a user specific interests based on an initial 300 topics. Those topics can include things like “fitness,” “travel,” or “movies.” Websites can then share up to three of a user’s interests with advertisers.
Since the initiative is still in early stages, there are still a number of pros and cons industry experts are considering. Google itself remains open to feedback on the initiative as well. We put together some of the pros and cons to keep in mind as you consider how to incorporate the next possible generation of technology into your business.
Pros: What Industry Experts Like About Google Topics
Industry insiders agree that the new framework is a lot easier to understand than FloC, and so could lead to wider acceptance and adoption. Here’s what they like about the new initiative:
- Simpler Framework. Users and advertisers will have a better experience because of the simplicity of “Topics.” Google has simplified that integration, while keeping user data relatively randomized and unique. “Topics” are based on browsing history and top interests, and Google will only keep these for three weeks, keeping a user’s interests new and fresh.
- Increased Privacy. This effort continues Google’s attempts to create a healthy web, where users can feel protected but also keep the advertising industry alive. They arrived at Topics as the solution gives users more “meaningful transparency and control”.
- Better Targeting for Context Clues. Rather than gathering specific browsing information from users, this solution enables advertisers to better understand the topics users are diving into that represent their top interests. This further shows the shift to better understanding and targeting context in advertiser’s bids to reach users.
Cons: What Industry Experts Don’t Like About Google Topics
Experts still worry the new solution doesn’t do enough to either promote privacy or accurately enable advertisers. Here are the top concerns:
- Still Collects Data Without User Consent. Users still aren’t explicitly a part of the process, a similar complaint as third-party cookies. Google says it does plan to implement controls for users to view their topics and edit them, but what exactly that will look like is still unclear.
- Topics are Far Too Broad. Advertisers worry that 300 topics aren’t nearly enough to accurately reach their intended audiences. After years of being able to deliver very personalized advertisers to a precise user group, brands worry that they will be shooting their campaigns into the dark.
- Anti-trust concerns. Publishers and advertisers are still wary of Google’s plan to eliminate the third-party cookie, arguing that the move puts Google in a stronger position overall. EU publishers recently sued the tech giant claiming exactly that, so it remains to be seen how legislation will affect these initiatives.
The Future of Advertising
There’s no doubt the industry will keep discussing and debating the next generation of personalized and programmatic advertising, and Google remains a major player in what that might look like. Even though the cookie isn’t set to disappear until 2023, businesses need to stay on top of these changes so they can still reach the right customers in the future.
Still looking for a partner to help you guide you through the next generation of advertising technology? We can help. Our team of experts can give you a jargon-free walkthrough of exactly what you need to know to prepare your business for the coming changes. Send us a note at [email protected] to talk more.