Google replaces FLoC with Topics

26 January 2022

Google has revealed a new proposal for its Privacy Sandbox to support interest-based advertising.

Topics, which replaces FLoC, allows a user’s browser to determine a handful of topics that represent their top interests for the week based on their browsing history. Topics are kept for three weeks and old topics are deleted.

Google says it is restricting the number of topics, which includes fitness, travel and transportation, to 300. Topics will also be selected on the user’s device without involving external servers, including Google servers.

“When you visit a participating site, Topics picks just three topics, one topic from each of the past three weeks, to share with the site and its advertising partners,” says Vinay Goel, product lead, Chrome Privacy Sandbox.

“Topics enables browsers to give you meaningful transparency and control over this data, and in Chrome, we’re building user controls that let you see the topics, remove any you don’t like or disable the feature completely.

“More importantly, topics are thoughtfully curated to exclude sensitive categories, such as gender or race. Because Topics is powered by the browser, it provides you with a more recognizable way to see and control how your data is shared, compared to tracking mechanisms like third-party cookies.”

Image Credit: Google

Google says the new proposal allows for advertisers to serve consumers relevant ads without using “covert tracking techniques”.

The tech company will launch a developer trial of Topics in Chrome which includes user controls, and enables website developers and the ad industry to test it.

Google began building its Privacy Sandbox amid its decision to phase out third-party cookies which is due by 2023.

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