Google abandons FLoC and will replace third-party cookies with Topics

Google announced some time ago that it was going to abandon third-party cookies for the segmentation of online advertising shown to users to replace them with another less invasive system. Then the company announced that it was beginning to experiment with a system it called FLOC (Federated Learning of Cohorts), but in view of the rejection it has caused, which has only increased over time, the company has decided abandon and replace by another, whom he has called topics and with which you are already working.

FLoC worked through interest-based advertising, grouping users into groups with similar interests, while Topics relies on get the browser to learn about the interests of its users as they browse the web. To do this, the browser will store browsing history data from the last three weeks.

Google is going to limit the number of topics for cataloging the interests of those who use browsers to 300 for now, although the company already has plans to increase this number over time. Of course, these topics, or topics, will not include any related to gender or race. To find out the interests of each browser user, Google categorizes the web pages you visit based on one of the 300 topics it has established. But since there may be pages that you have not categorized at any given time, Topics uses a machine learning algorithm, considered to be light, to analyze it and decide in which topic it can be classified. To do this, it uses your domain name as a basis.

When a website that supports the Topics API is opened for advertising purposes, the browser will share three topics that the user who is browsing is interested in. One for each of the last three weeks, which will randomly choose from the top five topics for each week. Then, the web shares these three themes with its advertising partners to decide which ads to show on the web.

This new system would therefore offer a more private method of deciding which ads to show in each case. In addition, Google has pointed out that it offers users more control and transparency than the current system. Thus, users will be able to review and remove topics from their lists, and even disable the entire Topics API. For now, the exact date on which it will come into force is not known, but Google, which has published various technical details of the system on Github, has plans to start testing it at the end of this quarter. In the meantime, it continues to move towards blocking third-party cookies, which will be effective sometime in 2023.

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