Google is delaying the deprecation of third-party cookies in its Chrome browser for a second time. Originally scheduled to happen this year, it was pushed back to late 2023, and then yesterday, Google announced that it would not happen until the second half of 2024.
In a blog post, Anthony Chavez, VP, Privacy Sandbox at Google, said that through its work with developers, publishers, marketers, and regulators via forums like the W3C, and the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on how it develops and releases the Privacy Sandbox in Chrome worldwide, the most consistent feedback it had received was the need for more time to evaluate and test the new Privacy Sandbox technologies before deprecating third-party cookies in Chrome.
“This feedback aligns with our commitment to the CMA to ensure that the Privacy Sandbox provides effective, privacy-preserving technologies and the industry has sufficient time to adopt these new solutions,” Chavez wrote. “This deliberate approach to transitioning from third-party cookies ensures that the web can continue to thrive, without relying on cross-site tracking identifiers or covert techniques like fingerprinting.
“For these reasons, we are expanding the testing windows for the Privacy Sandbox APIs before we disable third-party cookies in Chrome.”
He went on to say that in early August, the Privacy Sandbox Trials will expand to millions of users globally, and that the trial population will be gradually increased throughout the rest of the year and into 2023.
Google now expects the Privacy Sandbox APIs to be launched and generally available in Chrome by Q3 2023,
“As developers adopt these APIs, we now intend to begin phasing out third-party cookies in Chrome in the second half of 2024,” Chavez confirmed.
Reacting to the news, Jon Mew, CEO of IAB UK, said that in light of the delay, it’s critical that businesses across the supply chain maintain momentum on trialling alternative targeting and measurement strategies.
“The demise of third-party cookies on Chrome is part of a wider shift towards a more privacy-conscious digital ad ecosystem in which third-party cookies are increasingly redundant,” he said. “In short, this isn’t something that is going to happen, it’s already underway.
"This timeline change gives more opportunities for stakeholders to trial available alternatives, via Privacy Sandbox or other solutions, and my message is simple: use this time wisely. By being proactive and adopting alternative ways to effectively target and measure campaigns – regardless of this delay – businesses are not only future-proofing their operations, but making sure they are in line with our increasingly privacy-first present.”
Travis Clinger, who heads up LiveRamp’s Authenticated Traffic Solution (ATS) and RampID, which enables publishers and advertisers to maintain people-based marketing on cookieless inventory, said Google’s announcement may be an indication that it feels not enough companies have started their transition to cookieless alternatives. But with more than 45 per cent of the internet already cookieless, mobile in-app cookieless, and CTV cookieless, he added, the time is now for publishers and marketers to transition away from cookie-based identity to people-based identity, regardless of the timeline Google has set.
“Given the current economic uncertainty, it is especially important to optimize the impact of every marketing and advertising dollar,” said Clinger. “Marketers should be asking themselves if their investments are addressable, accountable and measurable. Those who are making progress on their cookieless futures and negotiating based on business outcomes, rather than traditional reach and awareness metrics, can ensure media dollars are working harder than ever before.
“LiveRamp has been collaborating with its partners for the better part of a decade to address this, and our Authenticated Traffic Solution is on track to more than double scale over the next year. 48 per cent of consumers’ time spent on the open web and 89 per cent of consumers’ time on the open web or walled gardens is spent on domains that are, or will be, live with ATS or our direct integrations, unlocking critical scale for global publishers and marketers. Many of these publishers and marketers have found that ATS offers them better results, today.
“Making your shift to your preferred cookieless option now enables you to benefit from the scale of third-party cookies while they still exist, and also reach consumers in already-cookieless environments. This can be as easy as flipping a switch within your DSP or SSP, or deploying simple code. Delaying your move only means continuing to cheat yourself out of better performance.”
And Ossie Bayram, UK Country Director at Ogury, said that while Google keeps delaying the end of third-party cookies, it is certain to happen at some point.
“This indicates an unavoidable challenge for the entire industry: the combination of privacy regulations, together with the disappearance of cookies and IDs will bring a massive overhaul of targeting techniques. This is not a matter of if, but of when,” he says.
“We predict that advertisers will carry out a crackdown themselves in the upcoming months. Brands will soon demand their agencies and partners to work exclusively with solutions providers who respect individuals’ privacy. This means that you will struggle to generate business unless you are 100 per cent cookieless and ID-less.
“Those players with more foresight are already working on solutions that are independent of cookies and IDs. However, many are still failing to take action because, for now, the money is still coming in. Others yet are trying to create their own IDs and cookies, like models based on unified IDs. This will probably fail, though, because those models are not scalable for advertisers, who do not want to deal with multiple ID schemes.
When budgets shift in favour of cookieless and ID-less solutions, companies that respect privacy and understand the market change…will win the race. We have been focused on privacy since our inception in 2014. We have always understood that privacy is paramount, and have long foreseen that regulators and technology players would eventually crack down on third-party identifiers.”