Google Just Said the Inside Words Aloud
A few weeks back, Google published the most atypically logical announcement we’ve ever heard from them in a decade. They announced that they are now considering the use of a topic-based approach (contextual) to identify groups of like-minded people as they move away from using cookies to target individuals. With content consumption as the universal identifier, finally the 1000 pound elephant says the inside words aloud.
Their proposed topic-based identification would create segments based on similarities in content consumption patterns. Given Advanced Contextual’s unique focus on Contextual Targeting technologies and solutions, we see this announcement as verification of a major shift to transparent and common understanding of audiences in the new privacy-focused world.
As our own contextual platform’s time-proven performance consistently indicates, topics are simple, easy to understand and offer a highly reliable signal of intent. They also offer flexibility. Easy to update, easy to communicate and easily understood, topics can also be augmented by keywords or entity extraction if the contextual engine you use is properly built for future demand.
Most importantly, content consumption accurately reflects consumer intent. Period. Full stop.
While Google’s history of vacillations make it hard to pin down what they will ultimately do, this announcement reveals a recognition by Google that the initial FLoC solution has issues - particularly the murkiness of the targeting methodology as well as potential privacy issues for consumers. This admission, if you will, states the obvious, which is that it's time to move away from opaque categorizations, such as “90 day audience buyers” or “high end leisure traveler intenders” and more toward measurable classifications like the words on a page or in a video which are common and can be easily verified.
Based on commercial discussions we’ve had with them and customers, the other “walled gardens” have either outright come to the same conclusion or are considering it.
The simple premise is that Context must be central to the creation of any segment because the approach meets all of the core requirements for inclusion in every proposed future solution for targeting.
From a privacy standpoint, context is both ubiquitous and non-invasive. Both of which are critical as we move into the new era of regulatory audience creation being driven by consumer preferences and legislative agendas.
What is still unclear is:
How much insight and control will brands and publishers be given to build and activate audiences within walled gardens?
Will the gardens continue to hide behind a veil of privacy to maintain control over inventory, pricing, and transparency?
Historically, the walled gardens made hay in the sunshine by dazzling us with fancy segment names - lulling us into the belief that they had cornered the market on understanding consumer intent. In moving toward a topic-based approach, the walled gardens would be targeting in a manner that both publishers and brands can understand. Content consumption matters as an expression of consumer intent.
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