On Topic: Google’s Latest Cookie replacement idea

Google is back in the kitchen cooking up its newest plan to replace third-party cookies

Cookies have been a hot topic of conversation in the digital advertising world over the past several years and the latest potential cookie replacement is taking the subject to heart with “Topics”.

The company’s latest idea centers around an alternative to cookies called Topics which would assign users a set of their most recent browsing behaviors. Unlike, the more known general audience or behavioral targeting that advertisers are familiar with, these topics will be weighted heavily in recency bias and have a fairly short shelf life.

As the Verge points out, in a recent write up explaining Topics:
Your browser will store these topics for three weeks before deleting them. Google says that these categories “are selected entirely on your device” and don’t involve “any external servers, including Google servers.” When you visit a website, Topics will show the site and its advertising partners just three of your interests, consisting of “one topic from each of the past three weeks.”

As explained, users will be assigned the most relevant and recent topics from a select list (draft Topics are listed here) to apply to their browsing behavior. These “Topics” will exclude sensitive issues and categories mapped across a collection of site categories and will likely not be reflective on individual sites visited.

This latest proposed solution, referenced in the company’s blog,  is Google’s response to its FLoC idea floated last year which was widely panned by the advertising industry and privacy critics alike.

Time will tell if this latest proposal from the tech giant will satisfy the sweet tooth of the industry or if cookies will extend their shelf live even longer — should yet another cookie solution need to be baked from scratch.


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