Google to Disable 3rd Party Cookies
Come the first quarter of 2024 and web advertising could change forever. Or at least the process may start in earnest. For, that’s when Google’s Privacy Sandbox aims to replace all third-party cookies with higher levels of privacy that allows users to manage their interests while grouping them into cohorts based on browsing patterns.
The digital advertising industry has been vocal about this change and also came up with several experiments on how to go about it. Of course, it is another matter that Google’s one step forward has made other browser vendors wary. They aren’t keen on Privacy Sandbox and appear to be going with different approaches to user privacy.
Not that these companies have a choice. The Competition and Markets Authority of the UK had probed Google’s antitrust behavior amidst complaints by a coalition of digital marketing companies. It was only early in 2022 that the authority agreed to accept most of Google’s suggestions on a post-cookie-less world of interest-based digital ad targeting.
The migration plans begin from early 2024
Now Google has announced that from early 2024, it plans to migrate one percent of Chrome users to Privacy Sandbox and disable third-party cookies for them. This is part of its plan to completely deprecate third-party cookies by the second half of next year, as agreed with the UK antitrust authorities.
Google would be releasing its Chrome 114 in July and alongside it would also make the relevance of Privacy Sandbox and measurement APIs available to all Chrome users. This would make developers’ lives easier as they can test the APIs against live traffic as Google doesn’t plan to make any major changes to the API after this release.
Google’s Victor Wong, who leads product for Private Advertising Technology within Privacy Sandbox, told TechCrunch that the deprecation of third party cookies will help developers assess their real-word readiness for the larger changes in 2024 as they would be able to simulate their third-party cookie deprecation readiness starting in Q4 of this year.
Wong said the plan was put in place following consultations with the UK antitrust body with a clear aim to help coordinate some of the testing and make things easier. Alongside the launch of Chrome 115, adtech developers can start testing their solutions at scale. Wong says that at this point several features of Privacy Sandbox will also be locked in by this time.
Google appears to be taking the first-mover position
Of course, Privacy Sandbox has been available for trails in Chrome with the APIs being available since the launch of Chrome 101 beta. However, testing APIs at scale is a totally different experience. People have asked about scaled availability, Wong noted, adding that Google doesn’t plan for intermediary steps through 2023 to scale the number beyond 1%.
Once it decides to fully deprecate, Google plans to go from 1% to 100% without any milestones in-between, Wong was quoted as saying. Readers may recall that the company had originally planned to phase out tracking cookies in early 2022 but changed the timeline once in 2021 and then again last year.
Wong said Google was taking a deliberate approach based on inputs from across the ecosystem of developers, regulators, policymakers and advertisers. All were saying they needed more time to test and adapt. However, there were also those who sought to move quickly so Google’s move now could just give wings to the project.
Of course, it remains to be seen how competitors to Google react and what the implications would be on the entire digital advertising ecosystem. Knowing Google, one cannot rest assured that they aren’t holding a few tricks up their sleeves, given that online advertising is a market that they’ve straddled like a colossus for several years now.
Mr. Todd Parsons, Chief Product Officer, Criteo quote “The timeline remains consistent with the announcement made by Google in July 2022, and it is already embedded in our plan.
As part of our transformation, our Commerce Media Platform strategy enables our clients to leverage their first-party data assets to reach and engage their audiences without third-party identifiers, with new solutions now representing close to half of our business and expected to become the larger part of our mix going forward.
At the same time, as part of our multi-pronged identity strategy, we have been working side by side with Google for a long time, and we remain one of the largest scaled partners in the Privacy Sandbox. We are very encouraged by the productive collaboration and results to date as we continue to test and inform their APIs. We believe that Criteo leaning into a close collaboration with Chrome to develop specific use cases will enable us to deliver superior performance.
Privacy Sandbox is an ecosystem effort, which means our investments are contributing to privacy-preserving solutions that will benefit our partners and the advertising industry at large.”