This FLOC targeting had then launched many debates, not only about the use of personal data, but also concerning the relevance of the solution for advertisers.
To address these debates, Google recently announced the targeting solution that could replace the FLOC project: TOPICS API.
What is it? What would this targeting method consist of? What can you expect from it? Our experts break down the situation for you, to help you see what the future of your advertising campaigns will possibly look like.
TOPICS is the new proposal of the famous search engine to target users in their programmatic advertising campaigns without using third-party cookies. This proposal, which should fit into Google's Privacy Sandbox, follows the announced disappearance of third-party cookies, scheduled for mid-2023, which forced the AdTech giant to review its targeting capabilities.
TOPICS API would replace the FLOC (Federated Learning Of Cohorts) project, which was very controversial until now. This targeting method consisted in creating cohorts of at least 5000 users, who share the same online behavior, that advertisers could then target.
As Google explains it today, the TOPICS API would assign centers of interest (called “TOPICS”) to each user, determined according to their browsing history on Chrome.
The API would analyze the URL of the domain or sub-domain to determine centers of interest that would potentially interest the user.
Those TOPICS would…
On the advertiser’s side, it would then be possible to target users according to these interests (Sport, Travel, Beauty, News…) without having to use third-party cookies.
On the users’ side, this new feature would allow them to manage their TOPICS quite finely. According to Google, it would be possible to delete TOPICS directly from the browser.
For the time being, this new targeting feature appears to be especially advantageous for Internet users.
Google’s TOPICS would enable users to…
At the moment, on the advertisers' side, Google's TOPICS solution is mainly raising points of attention. Here are the ones that our Gamned! experts have identified and point out to you.
“While Google's TOPICS API is still under development, it already raises many questions about the performance of the ad targeting that will be offered. However, the solution is still to be subjected to numerous tests and debates with other market players. So there's nothing to worry about. That said, we at Gamned! are still keeping a close eye on the development of this solution, as well as on alternatives that will allow the brands we support to keep a good level of performance in their programmatic campaigns.” Fenitra Raz, Data Strategist
Today, Google's solution offers about 350 TOPICS. For comparison, the IAB has no less than 1500 themes.
The question arises as to what kind of targeting granularity can be achieved with Google TOPICS. Therefore, advertisers can legitimately ask themselves how the relevance of this targeting method will impact the performance of their advertising campaigns.
Indeed, at the moment, Google announced that a site can only be linked to a maximum of 3 TOPICS. The AdTech giant is currently discussing with the market to be able to overpass this limit, which would present a rather important blocking point.
Some advertisers, such as those in the travel, banking or insurance sectors, have sales cycles that are much longer than the 3 weeks in which the Google TOPICS would be retained.
Faced with this limitation in terms of time, we can therefore wonder how Google will be able to adapt the targeting and the lifespan of TOPICS for these industries.
Finally, the global testing period of this new Google service potentially questions the previously announced deadline of mid-2023.
Indeed, Google has announced that a new proposal will soon be submitted to comments. Thereafter, patching, then testing, then release (if all goes well) phases will still take time. And the development of this API is not finished yet. All of this could jeopardize the mid-2023 initial deadline.
In the end, it's a whole new timeline that's being put in place. According to our experts, it could take at least 18 months before Google's TOPICS appear in the Privacy Sandbox... and that's without counting the complaints from the competition that are already starting to come in!
In short, TOPICS API seems to be a kind of backward step, which at the same time questions Google's real ability to permanently delete third-party cookies...
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