Authored by: Grant Nych, Senior DCO Strategist & Karolina Jamrozy Price, Data and Feed Manager, Dynamic Creative 

Brands continue to seek new ways to personalize content for their customers – and for good reason. Personalization leads to better experiences and stronger relationships. One way marketers can do that is through dynamic creative optimization, or DCO, which uses automation to deliver personalized ads in a scalable way.

At the same time, marketers are facing increased pressure from privacy regulations, adding a layer of complexity to any personalization efforts. As we move into a more privacy-centric world, platforms are offering alternatives so brands can continue to market effectively without third-party cookies.

Google’s newest iteration of its privacy-safe option is called Topics. Let’s walk through what Topics is, how it works together with DCO, and what advertisers should do next.

What is Google Topics?

Topics aims to maintain a consumer’s privacy without sacrificing their ability to receive relevant advertisements. The browser records its user’s interests and aligns ads accordingly, allowing a site to deliver relevant content without needing to know any personal information about the individual. Users are granted full control to add and remove topics in their targeting lists.

Topics is an evolution of Google’s initial cookieless solution, Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC). FLoC was also interest-focused but clustered individuals together based on similar browsing habits. Topics offers greater privacy protection than FLoC because it doesn’t share or rely on the actual sites a user visited, just their interests. The Topics list is also curated to exclude sensitive categories.

How Does Topics Work Together with DCO?

With Google Topics, DCO remains just as powerful a tool as before. The goal of DCO is to combine media and creative in a way that maximizes performance and scale to reduce production costs and timelines, and Topics enables marketers to continue doing that.

In the past, DCO used both first- and third-party data to target individuals across the web, serving ads based on site, search, and purchase behaviors. Now, the third-party data component is removed, but advertisers can still build a strong connection with the consumer. While Topics might remove 1:1 personalization, it still allows the brand to understand the user as a human. Topics offers 348 audience segments, more than two times the 123 affinity/interest segments within the DV360 buying platform, giving advertisers a greater ability to target granularly.

The ability for users to turn Topics on or off means they can essentially communicate to the advertiser which topics are most relevant and interesting to them in a way that behavioral data alone can’t. How many of us have opened a news site on a Saturday morning, only to be bombarded with work-related content due to how much time we spend on work-related websites during the week? Topics gives users a more direct opportunity to communicate their preferences to brands.

What Should Advertisers Do Next?

There are a few steps advertisers can take to prepare to maximize DCO opportunities with Google Topics.

  • Build extreme familiarity with your CRM system. Start (or continue) to build out first-party data so you’re ready to marry that information with Google Topics. This will create a larger digital ecosystem that connects the dots across Topics and other marketing efforts.
  • Start revving your DCO engine to build momentum and help it work harder for you. With a variety of topics to market against, you can create different messages, imagery, creative, etc. that DCO can optimize through automation.
  • For advertisers not yet using DCO, consider starting internal conversations to plan for adoption. While it will require upfront investment, it will be more cost-effective in the long run to not have to build out creative iterations manually.


The cookieless world is still new – and everyone, including Google, is still figuring out what protecting consumer privacy looks like in practice. Google will likely evolve their privacy-safe targeting offerings over time, and as marketers we have the opportunity to help shape that future. As we often promote across digital marketing, jump in and test! Give Topics a try, learn, iterate, and share feedback. We’re excited to leverage it for DCO to see its impact in a world without third-party cookies.