Friday, December 9, 2022

Google Comes Up With A New Plan To Track You Around The Web. Will It Work?

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Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) is officially dead and a new baby ‘Topics’ is born.

Google has decided to kill its ambitious program – Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) for now. The tech giant has opted for a new interest-based targeting proposal called Topics. There is a note of caution.

It will have a process in place to exclude potentially sensitive topics like race and sexual orientation.

How will it work?

A browser determines a handful of topics with ‘Topics’ that represent your top interests based on your browsing history. Up to five topics are associated with the browser. Topics are stored for three weeks and the processing occurs on the device, without involving any external servers.

When a user goes to a participating website, the Topics API selects three topics (one from each of the past three weeks) to share with that site and its advertising partners. The site itself or its advertising partners can opt in to the Topics API.

One of the main distinctions between Google’s previous targeting proposal, FLoC, and the Topics API is that Topics does not group users into cohorts.

Why should we care?

Google is planning to deprecate third-party cookies in Chrome. With this announcement, it has given a fair idea of what audience targeting options will be available. Google ran into a number of challenges with FLoC, including lack of adoption, industry pushback and regulatory issues.

It may have addressed some of those challenges with this new proposal, but adoption among other browsers may still be a challenge.

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