Google Adopts New Cookie Replacement Following Privacy Concerns

By Brad Pareso 

Google’s latest solution for audience targeting without third-party cookies might scale the regulatory hurdles that are coming. But in diluting targeting capabilities, it’s in danger of being less useful for marketers. (Adweek)

Google is walking back plans to replace third-party cookies with FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts) by instead proposing the Topics API, a new system for interest-based advertising. (The Verge)

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. (TechCrunch)

The Topics data is stored on individuals’ devices without involving any external servers, including Google’s. This is different from third-party tracking cookies, which allowed companies to use tracking pixels to trace user activity across many sites—and build users’ profiles without giving them any visibility or control over the process. (Axios)

Google’s plan to eliminate cookies by the end of next year is a potentially huge shift for the digital advertising industry—though it is not clear if the new method, which the company will start testing in the first quarter this year, will be any less alarming to advertisers and regulators. (NYT)