Google scraps FLoC, introduces new cookie-free alternative

The new interest-based offering will allow brands to show relevant ads based on a person's web browsing activity.
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After a series of trials and feedback from the online community, Google announced this morning that it is replacing its Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) proposal with a new tool dubbed Topics.

The new interest-based offering will allow brands to show relevant ads based on a person’s web browsing activity without revealing specific sites they visited to any external parties, including Google.

Topics doesn’t involve covert tracking techniques, giving brands the ability to continue serving relevant ads without cookies. The technology, still in early stages of development, is a new offering from Privacy Sandbox, Google’s initiative for creating web privacy technologies.

Topics uses the consumer’s browser to determine a handful of topics, such as fitness or travel, which are then shared with advertisers. Just three topics are chosen, one for each of the past three weeks. They are only kept for three weeks, with old topics to be deleted. Users can control the topics and remove any they don’t like or disable the feature entirely. Topics are also curated to exclude sensitive categories, such as gender or race.

Global developer trials in Chrome will soon launch, enabling developers and the advertising industry to test the new tool. The final design will be based on feedback from the trial.