Online advertising industry representatives are increasingly saying that Google will not be able to remove support for third-party cookies from its products until 2025. This is complicated by the UK regulatory review process and marketing considerations.
Cookies are stored on users’ devices and allow tracking of user activities across different websites in order to deliver targeted advertising and measure the effectiveness of advertising campaigns. In 2020, Google announced that it would disable support for third-party cookies in its Chrome browser “within two years” in the name of user security and privacy. The company subsequently postponed this transition twice to give the advertising industry additional time to prepare, but repeatedly emphasized that it would still implement its plan in the fourth quarter of 2024.
Advertising industry representatives believe that due to the actions of the British regulator and the results of testing an alternative to this solution, Google will also not be able to disable support for third-party cookies within the specified time frame. This alternative is privacy sandbox technology – collecting data necessary for targeting advertising by the browser and querying the browser by advertising services via an API. The technology is currently being assessed by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), and Google has pledged not to take any drastic steps until the agency completes its review. For its part, the CMA recently said that evidence collection as part of the Privacy Sandbox review for signs of anti-competitive practices by Google will continue until mid-2024. If the agency rules, there will be a “waiting period” of 60 to 120 days before Google can disable third-party cookies.
Google plans to do this in the third quarter of 2024, but it will have to meet by September of this year, which is unlikely. And then the holiday season begins, and the company simply won’t be able to make drastic changes that could have a significant impact on it, even though both Google and the CMA say they want to avoid another delay.
However, the CMA’s latest Privacy Sandbox report highlights various market concerns regarding the introduction of the new technology. Publishers believe it is too profitable for advertisers and could cost sites revenue. The creators of advertising campaigns fear that they will incur additional costs by developing new customer service systems. There are concerns that Google will force users to consent to data collection. Finally, there is still no sufficient way to test Privacy Sandbox for market participants: the documentation is a “complete mess,” they say Business Insider One of the interlocutors, and there is no clarity about what and how to test, although, according to Google, it is now necessary to learn how to use the new technology.
However, some representatives of the advertising industry also hold the opposite opinion: if the rejection of third-party cookies is still unavoidable, then it is better to do this as early as possible in order to close the issue and not remain in limbo. Therefore, the timing of such a transition is not particularly important.