Why Google Topics won't save your online marketing

Mar 21, 2022 | , , , ,

Anders Spicker

By Anders Spicker


Reading Time: 3 minutes


Bad news. Things are not looking great if you were hoping for an easy solution to the 3rd party cookie debacle.

Maybe you’re taking the necessary steps to replace them. Or maybe you’re hesitant to act, just like most of the industry.

Feeling confident?

According to a recent study by IAB, a big chunk of the industry has a false sense of confidence when it comes to the future of their performance marketing.

In fact, 77% claim to be prepared for the loss of cookies, but surprisingly, a whole 59% are not increasing their investment in 1st party cookies. In fact, 3rd party cookies increased in investments in 2021. It seems that the industry is reluctant to change their strategy until they hit the wall.

It points to an inflated sense of security. An idea that help is on its way or that revenue will somehow not be affected significantly by the loss of cookies, although all evidence points to the contrary.

Industry leaders expect that the loss of 3rd party cookies and identifiers will significantly impact

  • Ad campaign measurement
  • Attribution modeling
  • Digital ad supply chains
  • Talent acquisition

It shouldn’t be ignored.

Another explanation for the hesitation could be that the industry has been waiting for Google to come up with a new solution to the cookie problem. If so, the solution is here. But there isn’t much to cheer about. Not yet anyway.

Get a recap and read "The End of Third-Party Cookies: What Should You Do?"


Let’s talk about Topics

Google has decided to ditch their proposed project for replacing cookies, the so-called FLoC, with Topics.

Why? You see, there were a few privacy concerns with FLoC… Or, more than just a few.

FloC would use an algorithm to look at your browser history and place you in a group of other users, so-called cohorts. This group would be accessible to advertisers, which then would determine the ads you would see. Albeit FloC was a far more anonymous initiative than 3rd party cookies, data would still stick to the browser. And that would make it possible to profile your browsing history and present this to online advertisers (red flags waving, alarm bells ringing!).

Not ideal.

So, Google changed their course, and recently they introduced Topics.


So, what is Google Topics API?

Topics API is an interest-based initiative that groups your browsing history into topics based on three of your most recent interests. Such interests might be “Fitness”, “Travel & Transportation”, or “Hiking”.

The topics represent your top interests for that week based on your browsing history, and after three weeks, they are deleted and replaced. The site can then share a number of these topics with advertisement partners that will build marketing campaigns on this data.

While Google emphasizes more privacy for users along with greater control, the solution is a far-cry from the opportunities offered by 3rd party cookies. No matter how many different topics are added to the solution, you will never get enough information about a user’s interests for your ads to be truly personalized.

To add, the data lifespan of three weeks will not allow you much information about the behavior and intention of your visitor. The API offers some information, but not enough to ensure relevancy.

So, will Topics fill the void left behind by 3rd party cookies? No, not really. And that means you still need to focus on collecting 1st party cookies and organizing them in a Customer Data Platform that keeps all your customer data in one place.

A complete CDP guide to understand your customers in 2022

Everything you need to know about a Customer Data Platform to scale your business



1st party cookies – the future-proof way to go

Only 36% feel somewhat concerned about having enough 1st party data. But why is the industry so hesitant to adopt the necessary measures to save their intent marketing? Well, it seems that the constant changes in the landscape are holding some professionals back.

“Why take action if things keep changing?” is the argument.

Yes, things are constantly changing, but GDPR and similar data privacy measures will not loosen their grip. That’s a fact. Going forward, 1st party data will undoubtedly be your best bet for delivering personalized customer experiences. Especially if you start collecting it now.

1st party cookies that track the direct engagement with an organization will be the bread and butter of future advertisement activities. These derive from users’ own interactions and help enrich customer experience with personalized content and products. This means that 1st party cookies are a safe investment as they are less likely to get the boot.

Learn how to get personalization "right"

Ready to collect?

The fact that you’re reading this right now means that you are actively educating yourself on the future of data-based marketing. Good for you! Only 46% in the industry consider themselves knowledgeable on Google’s Privacy Sandbox, so you are in the favorable minority.

There is much to learn, so consider diving into our popular Cookie Guide, our CDP Guide or our Mini-guide to Google's Next Privacy Move to get the full scope.

Feeling ready to act? Or do you have more burning questions on data collection? Our experts at Raptor Services are more than ready to talk cookies, privacy, and CDP.



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