Google’s new tracking technology, Topics API, is more private than FLoC

Google’s new tracking technology, Topics API, is more private than FLoC

17 February 2022 |

Data, Insights, Privacy

Google is trying to replace third-party cookies with new technologies to target users on the web. Last year, Google introduced FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts), an internet based advertising which tracks individual users’ behaviour across the web. Unfortunately, this wasn’t received well by the industry as it resulted in other privacy problems such as fingerprinting (using data points to decipher identity) and cross-context exposure. This year, Google has introduced Topics API, which groups users into select topics of interest (based on the user’s browsing history) without involving external servers and sharing information with participating sites.


How Topics Work?

Using your browser, Topics will establish a group of topics like “Beauty” or “Fitness” representing your top interest for the week. Up to 5 topics will be associated with your browser. When you visit a participating site, it will share three topics to the site and its advertising partners. These are stored for 3 weeks on Google’s own servers before being deleted.


With Topics design, a site’s domain and subdomain are used to map the topic to that site. If a site opts out on participating, it won’t provide or receive a topic and vice versa. Google has shared a technical explainer about the Topics proposal.


Difference between FLoC vs Topics:

  • Topics does not group users into cohorts
    • Compared to FLoC, Topics associate the user’s site behaviour on a weekly basis which means it will change often making fingerprinting almost impossible. Topics will only share “topics” to sites while FLoC shares a cohort ID. 
  • Users have more control and privacy measures
    • Google will build out controls allowing users to enable or remove, not add any topics associated with them. The topics API is also designed to exclude sensitive information such as race or sexual orientation. 


As Google removes third-party cookies in Chrome by next year, we will have a better understanding of what targeting options will be available. ADMATIC can help you move forward to a cookie-less future with Google. Reach out to an ADMATICian to learn more.