Google’s New Solution: “Topics API”

The changes and reforms going on at Google continue. With its eventual plan to permanently phase out third-party tracking, the search engine icon is trying to create solutions that would let marketers connect brands to customers. Google’s latest solution: Topics API.

A replacement for FLoC

When news broke that third-party tracking technologies were eventually going away, many in the advertising and marketing industries panicked. Last May, the released an alternate method for marketers to consider: FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts), an all browser-based solution where users’ browsing habits were gathered and grouped with those who had similar interests. The idea was that the group (read: “cohorts”) would be accessible to marketers without individual user information exposed. Regardless of Google’s good intentions, FLoC was met with an almost unanimous “nay” among online enterprises (including WordPress). After a trip back to the proverbial drawing board, Google now brings Topics API to the table…

How does Topics API work?

Instead of collecting groups of users into cohorts, this latest solution finds opportunities for marketing by interests (read: Topics API). As explained by Seb Joseph in DigiDay, Topics API operates by identifying five topics that a user will search for online. At present, there are 350 topics on Google’s list, but this number will obviously increase. 

What are the benefits of Topics API?

Google’s selling point for Topics API is that less information is revealed, and there is more control over how it is shared. The supposed benefit is that Topics API will block the tracking of digital cookies and grant users more anonymity. Additionally, users will have the choice to opt out of Topics API off in their browser preferences. So, the benefit of user privacy is strong, but since the source of the data is not contextual but “domain-based,” the ability for markets to accurately and precisely reach consumers and measure this success is weak.

What will be the impact of Topics API?

As of now, it is still vague as to the possible success of Topics API as a solution not only for marketers, but publishers and all other online enterprises involved with advertising and branding. Mr. Joseph notes that Topics API is more of a change than an improvement for connecting brands to customers. Ultimately, the value will be for Google first, customers second, and marketers third.

With this in mind, one prediction is that shifting from third-party to first-party data strategies will continue to grow.

Michael DiMarco, Director of SEO at EGC, offers these insights:

“With such sweeping changes coming to Google and how search will work, it is more important than ever for Google to clearly communicate the effects these changes will have for everyone that is affected—including marketing teams and advertisers. Individuals’ interests are much wider than the five topics that Google will provide each week, and while privacy is an important factor for users, there is the secondary aspect of that where individuals are not being fed topics but are allowed to organically discover them.”

The EGC Group continues to keep on top of the latest developments and changes in marketing. Have questions about how we can help your brand stay strong and in focus? Let us know.