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Google will let advertisers target people on the web based on a broad set of interests, retreating from an earlier plan that was lambasted over privacy and anticompetitive concerns.

Alphabet’s Google calls the new advertising system Topics. It will replace cookies by the end of 2023 as a means of tracking users on Google’s Chrome browser, the company said Tuesday.

Topics will categorise people based on areas of interest, such as “talk radio” or “tennis”. The topics are defined based on the last three weeks of browsing activity.

The new tool is designed to preserve privacy by giving a less specific log of websites people visit, while enabling advertisers to reach segmented groups of potential customers, Google said. Chrome users will be able to remove individual topics associated with them or turn off the tracking option entirely, the company said.

Online advertising is set to undergo its biggest transformation since the advent of targeting. Apple has been implementing tools to prevent users of its products from being tracked, placing pressure on internet companies that rely on targeted ad revenue.

Google had intended to switch to a new system it created called FLoC in 2021. The move was panned as a way to concentrate power with little benefit to privacy, and Google postponed the move until 2023 before abandoning it entirely this week.

Bloomberg News. More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com


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