Alphabet Says It Will Alter Cookies Replacement For Google Chrome Browser

How Google Chrome Plans to Use “Topics” Instead of Cookies

Alphabet is proposing a new system to replace cookies in a move that is being closely watched by privacy advocates and online advertisers alike. When it comes to Google Chrome web browsers, advertisers will be able to target broad categories such as “health,” “sports,” or “travel.”

This new approach, called “Topics,” differs from the cookies system in which users are grouped into thousands of specific cohorts of people with similar browsing habits. The move away from cookies means that marketers will have much less granular-level information about web users.

Privacy advocates say cookies violate user privacy by effectively tracking their internet activity. Alphabet has pledged to phase-out third-party cookies by 2023, which is a massive change for the online advertising space.

With Google King of Online Advertising, Cookies Plan Draws Scrutiny

Wall Street is paying close attention to the cookies issue given Google’s undeniable influence on digital advertising. The search engine continues to dominate, and nearly two-thirds of all internet users use the Chrome web browser. Alphabet is effectively the link between companies that publish content online and those looking to advertise in the space.

As a result, rival companies, privacy advocates, and federal regulators are heavily invested in the move away from cookies. Alphabet had first proposed “Federated Learning of Cohorts,” or Floc, which grouped users together based on browsing history. However, this wasn’t well received by some who said it would diminish the effectiveness of online advertising while failing to protect user privacy.

Alphabet Attempts to Answer Cookie Critics With “Topics”

Following Floc criticism, Alphabet pushed back its original cookies replacement timeframe to late 2023. Executives say the “Topics” plan better protects user privacy by letting people opt out altogether. Also, the websites themselves aren’t automatically opted-in as a default setting.

It remains to be seen if the new plan will impress rivals and regulators. Mozilla Firefox and Brave, competing web browsers, said they wouldn’t use Floc when it was originally announced.

Overseas, Alphabet recently settled an antitrust lawsuit in the UK and faces inquiries elsewhere in Europe, as tied into cookies. Time will tell if “Topics” is the way forward or if it’s back to the drawing board for Alphabet.

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ABOUT Meg Richardson Meg Richardson is a writer specializing in markets, technology, and personal finance. She loves breaking down seemingly complex ideas and making them readable and interesting for everyone. She holds an MFA in writing from Columbia University. When she is not writing about finance, she enjoys running in Central Park and drawing cartoons.

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