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Jul'22·Jordi Capdevila·3 MIN

Everything you need to know about Topics API

Home Everything you need to know about Topics API

Topics API is the new Privacy Sandbox entrant that is replacing Google’s previous Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) proposal. There has been a huge buzz around Google’s decision to phase out third-party cookies and the Privacy Sandbox initiative was a step in that direction.

Globally, the focus today lies on data privacy. Consumers have made it abundantly clear that third-party cookies are violating their data privacy and thus began the motion to phase them out. FLoC was a part of the larger Privacy Sandbox initiative, a privacy-first web tracking technology. Google faced a lot of backlash ever since the announcement, and after collating feedback from the trials decided to drop the FLoC and replace it with a new initiative, Topics API

The FLoC model revolved around the concept of grouping people into cohorts based on their browsing patterns. This idea did not fly well among privacy advocates as they believed the algorithm could be reverse-engineered, giving rise to new privacy concerns. Replacing FLoC is Topics API, the new initiative for privacy-first, interest-based advertising, created keeping in mind the learnings and community feedback on the earlier proposal.

What is the Topics API Privacy Sandbox proposal?

Topics API aims to provide a highly secure browsing experience for users:

  • The API labels every website within one of the high-level topics
  • It enables the browsers to determine your top interests for the week based on your browsing history. 
  • Shared as one new topic per week, the topics are stored only for three weeks and all old topics are deleted. 
  • There are no external servers (not even Google servers) involved as all the topics are selected on the user’s device.
  • Only 3 topics, one from each of the past three weeks are picked and shared with websites and its advertising partners.
  • The main list of Topics is a human-curated list that is visible to the public and capped at 350 topics to prevent any risk of fingerprinting.

That’s not all. Topics also excludes sensitive categories like gender or race, and extends more control to users as it is powered by their browser. Google aims to further facilitate transparency and data control by also giving users access to disable this feature entirely, or remove any topic they choose to.

Let’s take an example to better understand Topics API – Say you search for something related to automobiles, the API will label the website under the topic ‘Automobiles & Vehicles’. Similarly, based on your browsing history, your browser will collect your most recent topics of interest and share it with advertisers to show you ads that are relevant, without knowing any specifics about your browsing history. For more details about the API and how it works, click here.

With this, users have more visibility and control over their data unlike third-party cookies, while also enabling advertisers to serve relevant ads without involving any technique that invades user privacy.

How will Topics API impact the advertising industry?

This initiative will give advertisers access to topics users have been interested in recently, keeping the possibility of interest levels high as the topics are fresh and updated on a tri-weekly basis. However, this has been the latest worry factor for advertisers and marketers as it could dilute their targeting capabilities. 

With cookies phasing out and Topics API still in its testing phase, without any clarity about its effectiveness or regulatory compliance, it is about time advertisers expand their horizons and explore other avenues they can leverage for successful interest-based advertising strategies. 

A strategy that has been gaining popularity among global brands today is contextual advertising. An ideal solution for the cookieless era, contextual advertising analyzes both content and context of a website to determine if it will be the right fit. Contextual ads are compliant with all data protection standards and do not leverage any personal information of users. With contextual targeting, ads are non-intrusive and rendered only within the user’s area of interest. 

Contextual advertising rates high on brand safety and suitability as the strategy incorporates the GARM framework. It traverses a vast ocean of content and picks only those websites and categories that are relevant to a brand’s products and services, while ensuring all sensitive and harmful content is avoided and also creating an apt balance between risk and opportunity.  Additionally, with Seedtag’s contextual AI technology, advertisers are also able to leverage the power of machine learning to get a human-like understanding of content to deliver ads that not only capture audience attention but also retain it longer.

For instance, the global technology giant, LG, leveraged contextual advertising to spread its campaign dynamically and creatively. They saw a +53% rise in CTR and +24% increase in viewability. Levisone of America’s most loved clothing brands, opted for contextual ads to raise brand awareness and increase its association with sustainability. The results? 79.4%viewabilityand 66.5% VTR.

Get in touch with us and learn more about how our Contextual AI  is helping global brands lead the way in the cookieless world.

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