The Privacy Sandbox was launched by Google Chrome in 2019 to improve web privacy for users, it is now trialing a new initiative called ‘Topics,’ to help advertisers globally with interest-based advertising.
The online giant made the announcement earlier this week after receiving feedback on its earlier trials. Topics will determine a handful of subjects such as fitness, fashion, travel, or transportation that represent a user’s top interests for one week based on their browsing history. This information will be saved only for three weeks, and the old data will be deleted.
According to Google, Topics are selected entirely on a user’s device without involving any external servers, including Google servers. When a user visits a participating site, Topics picks just three topics, one topic from each of the past three weeks, to share with the site and its advertising partners. Topics enable browsers to give meaningful transparency and control over this data, and in Chrome, Google is currently working on building user controls that let you modify the topics, remove or disable the feature completely.
It is also worth noting how Topics are thoughtfully curated to exclude sensitive categories, such as gender or race. Since Topics is powered by the browser, it provides users with a more recognizable way to see and control how your data is shared, compared to tracking mechanisms like third-party cookies. And, by providing websites with different topics of interest, online businesses have an option that doesn’t involve covert tracking techniques, like browser fingerprinting, in order to continue serving relevant ads.
Soon, a global developer trial of Topics in Chrome that includes user controls will be launched, this will enable website developers and the ads industry to try it out. The technology is still in the early stages of development. The results of the trials and feedback from the web community will inform the timeline.