After postponing to remove 3rd party tracking cookies from Chrome in 2022 to 2023, it took Google less than a year to drop FLoC after much negative industry feedback (privacy concerns, lack of attribution, it’s a black box, along with other worries), and announced their new replacement, Topics API in January of this year.
Instead of grouping audiences based on interests, the interests will be identified based on topics being labeled on participating websites in which those topics will then be assigned to users on their browser allowing for selective targeting. Currently there are 350 available topics, but Google plans to add many more, and users will have up to 5 topics assigned to them based on their visits.
Even with this alternative, there continues to be growing support for Unified ID 2.0, built from hashed and encrypted email addresses, as the better alternative. The Trade Desk has been leading the way with the tech, and most recently introduced their new product, OpenPath. Although not tied to 3rd party cookies, it’s important to take note because this involves premium inventory through the open web. OpenPath will allow The Trade Desk to access inventory directly from large publishers without relying on SSPs, and should increase the acceptance of UID 2.0 more so.
Taking all these things into consideration, the most important thing a brand can do to get ahead of these changes and navigate through a cookieless world, is to have a solid strategy revolving around understanding their target audiences by building, aggregating, and analyzing 1st party data. That will lead to creating engaging content and help select highly contextual environments that will resonate better and result in the desired action.