What comes to your mind when you hear the word “cookies”? A beautiful round-shaped biscuit filled with chocolate and nuts. Right? The cookies lift your mood and give your taste buds a good treat. But it is not the case with online cookies. Confused?
Forget it! You must have read that Google said third-party cookies would be blocked in Chrome by 2023. Are you again, confused? Then be with us to clear all the confusion. We will understand all aspects of cookies and the new alternatives Google is ready to introduce against cookies.
What are Online Cookies?
Cookies are little pieces of software code that websites use to keep you logged in. They let advertisers know when you clicked on their ads and then made you purchase the product. In other words, the cookies save your browsing information and then show you relevant content. These days, cookies have become more and more invasive.
Google and Online Cookies
Google is trying to block cookies after a privacy groups complaint that Google needs to work on more to ensure privacy. It announced to block cookies from web browsers two years ago. The announcement was worrisome for the advertising industry as it somewhat depended on online ads.
Google and the Alternative to Cookies
It is not tough for Google to know where your interest lies. As it runs websites where billions of people tell it what they are looking for. Google’s real problem is that it cannot shut off third-party cookies as it is not only the world’s largest advertising platform but also the most prominent web browser.
Looking into this problem, Google said back in mid-2021, “It will introduce an alternative known as Federated Learning of Cohorts or FloC.” It meant Chrome would track your browsing history and use it to identify you as a part of a cohort of other users with similar interests. Advertisers target the ads with things like “I would like to buy an expressive wallet” cohorts or “I want to learn about startups” cohorts.
The Reaction to the Decision
After the announcement, Google came into the limelight, and many brands and companies gave their opinions about the decision.
The Reaction of Companies
The ad-tech companies and advertisers didn’t much like the idea of FloC. They want Google to leave things alone as cookies tell them which ads to show and where they can profit.
Other Search Engines
For several reasons, companies like DuckDuckGo and Brave have rejected the idea of FLoC. The reasons include that cohort information could become a strong fingerprinting identifier.
The Announcement of Topics
Google has recently announced that it has ended the development of FLoC technologies and is working on Topics API to replace it.
It was confirmed by the announcement by Vianl Goel, Product Director, Privacy Sandbox and Chrome at Google. The announcement says,” The company plans to replace it with the Topics API, which Goel introduced in the blog post on The Keyword blog.”
What is Google Topics?
From your browsing history, Chrome will identify around five topics you are interested in. Then, whenever you visit a website, Chrome will show you three topics so that the ad matches your interest.
Google says, “ A handful of topics that represent a user’s top interests are determined and kept for three weeks.” Old topics are deleted after that time while new topics are added based on the user's browsing. Chrome will determine the topics that represent your web activity. Topics might include things like fitness, travel, sports, entertainment, and many more.
Importantly, Google said, “Topics will not include sensitive categories like gender or race.”
Topics will give you meaningful transparency and control over the data you share with browsers, Google added.
Statement by Peter Synder
Topics do not address all the company’s points of criticism, Peter Synder, Brave's director of privacy, said in a statement. In particular, it is still Google that decides what is sensitive and as such, excludes it from being used for advertising purposes. Topics limit the exposure of a user’s interests to sites they have visited in the past. The limitation benefits large advertisers, including Google, and puts smaller advertisers at a disadvantage.
This raises a question, are your devices safe? There was a time when Google was the answer to every question. But now, it is not the tool that serves the users and helps them find the answers. It has a proclivity for advertisers. Privacy concerns have always been an issue while using Chrome. These might be the reasons to altogether quit Google and switch to different search engine platforms.
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