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Tags: Data, Privacy, Google, Cookies, Relevant Yield

Updated: March 26, 2024

It’s been three months since Google turned off third-party cookies on 1% of its traffic, and it’s been a rollercoaster! The testing phase for Privacy Sandbox and its alternatives has seen its fair share of head-scratchers and "aha!" moments. Yet, the path forward seems as twisty as ever.

If it’s not complex, it’s not ad tech, right? But don’t let that intimidate you. Testing, exploring, and tweaking is the game's name as we gear up for a future without cookies. During this time, it’s also essential to have the right tools in your arsenal so that your journey is less about guesswork and more about strategy. 

Privacy Sandbox

The Privacy Sandbox project aims to minimise the information shared between websites and advertisers and store only a large part of the visitor's information on the visitor’s device. Google’s project envisions targeted advertising and measuring conversions through Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) in a browser environment. A group of different interfaces has been designed, each meeting different needs. 

Topics API

The Topics API categorises websites into broad, easily identifiable topics, such as "Sports", and tracks the most popular topics in your browser. This allows advertisers to display more precisely targeted ads while protecting your privacy by not revealing which sites you have visited.

With Topics, the Chrome browser learns what users are interested in when they visit different sites online. To understand visitors' interests, Google categorises sites based on a limited number of categories. The categorisation is currently designed to work only on a domain basis, i.e. the various topics on the news site will not be categorised separately. Up to this day, there are around 496 topics.

The data collected using the machine-learning algorithm is stored in the browser for three weeks and is not stored on an external server. When a visitor visits a site that supports the Topics API, Topics draws one topic each week, distributing it to target advertising. A shared topic category is either one of a visitor's top 5 topics from the last three weeks or 5% likely to be a random topic. Advertisers use these categories to target more relevant advertising to their visitors.

Check out more detailed technical information about The Topics API here.

Our Journey with Topics API

It wouldn’t be justified for us to write up an article about Topics API without actually testing it. We wanted to conduct tests on ourselves and also with our clients. It could be a challenging journey with more questions than answers sometimes, but we’re navigating through it every day. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be all hard. We’ve made the journey more accessible for our programmatic experts using our Relevant Yield’s HB Analytics module to report on Topics API easily. 

After gathering data, crunching numbers, and seeking insights, we have learned some things about the cookieless state and, specifically, Topics API performance. But let’s be frank and straightforward: the data pool is still shallow. It’s too early for grand revelations or definitive conclusions. However, this isn’t a sign to hit the brakes; if anything, it’s a call to push harder.


Relevant Yield reporting real-time analytics on Topics API


The essence of pioneering is to venture into the unknown, armed with curiosity and resilience. Our initial forays into Topics API testing underscore this spirit. While we can’t yet draw broad conclusions, every test and every data point is a step towards understanding and shaping the future of digital advertising. 

Again, Testing is Important (You will hear this a lot this year)

This phase of exploratory testing is crucial. It’s less about immediate gains and more about collective learning, about giving feedback to Google and refining our strategies. Testing with tools like Relevant Yield, which gives you real-time analytics and a no-code UI for configuration, could save resources, making it less challenging to get started and maintain.

Aaaand… It’s Just 1%. For Now.

Deciding to phase out third-party cookies on just 1% of traffic is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it’s a wake-up call for programmatic sellers who’ve been on the fence about adapting their strategies. The time for hesitation is over; the need for action is now. However, this doesn’t mean diving headlong into the deep without a life jacket.

Google's staged approach offers a unique opportunity for measured experimentation. It’s a chance to dip your toes in the water with Topics API and other Privacy Sandbox initiatives. This phase allows you to test, learn, and iterate without the pressure of a total commitment. It’s about making informed decisions based on data and insights rather than scrambling in the dark.

Join the Conversation

The narrative of digital advertising is still being written, and your voice matters. Privacy Sandbox is far from perfect at this stage, so Google needs constant feedback to make it a better product that is fair for all players. That’s why everyone must test their theories! It’s for the common good of digital advertising and, most importantly, for yourself to be ready for whatever is coming.

For those eager to stay informed about these developments, our monthly newsletter is your gateway to the latest insights and updates. Join us, and let’s turn today's challenges into tomorrow's opportunities.

Thuy Ho
By: Thuy Ho

Thuy’s role as a Sales Manager is to help our customers to solve their pain points with the help of the Relevant Yield.


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