Google Topics API for Chrome will serve ads better, while keeping browsing “private”

Google will soon test a new Topics API in a developer version of Chrome as it attempts to create “more private” browsing online. He claims that this new method will help deliver ads better without negatively impacting the advertising business of publishers, creators, and other developers. This decision is crucial given that the Google Chrome browser will soon delete third-party cookies, a decision originally announced in January 2021. This phase-out is supposed to take place by mid-2023 and be completed by the end of the year. ‘year.

In a new blog post, Vinay Goel, chief product officer at Chrome, said the company plans to launch “a topic developer trial in Chrome that includes user controls and allows website developers and industry to advertising to try it”. However, the final design of user controls and other technical aspects will depend on user feedback and what Google learns during the testing phase.

The Topics API is part of its “Privacy Sandbox” initiative, which is Google’s effort to create a more private web browsing experience. He previously announced plans for a “FloC” proposal to replace cookies. FLoC which stands for Federated Cohort Learning. But it looks like Topics is the solution Google will settle on for now.

So what is Topics?

The Topics API will determine a handful of topics that a user is interested in and these are the data that will be available with the browser. Instead of third-party cookies that track every website a user visits, Topics won’t do the same. Instead, they will focus on topics of interest to the user. This is what will be tracked and then shared with third-party websites to determine which advertisements might be shown to a user.

Topics can range from “Fitness” to “Travel and Transportation”. Topics are chosen based on the user’s browsing history. The browser determines the topics associated with websites. For example, a yoga-themed website might be categorized as “Fitness” related.

These topics are attributed to the websites themselves, not to the user. When visiting a participating site, one topic from each of the past three weeks will be shared with the site and its advertising partners. Topics from each browser are only stored for a period of three weeks and older topics are deleted. Moreover, they are selected entirely on the user’s device without involving external servers, including Google’s servers.

According to Google, topics could be an easier way for browsers to serve relevant ads to users without compromising transparency. Additionally, Chrome will have user controls that will allow viewing topics, deleting ones they don’t like, or disabling the feature altogether.

Topics will exclude sensitive categories, such as gender, sexuality, or race. Google says that because Topics will be powered by the browser, it gives users “a more recognizable way to see and control how data is shared, compared to tracking mechanisms like third-party cookies.” Thus, once the topics are implemented, websites will not know what other sites have been visited by a user.

Google also adds that it hopes that by providing topics to online businesses, it will ensure that they “do not rely on covert tracking techniques, such as browser fingerprinting, in order to continue serving relevant ads”.

The technology is still in the early stages of development. “Testing results and feedback from the web community will inform the timeline,” the company added. So whether this actually gets released to the public or not will be known for some time.

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