25th June 2021
This week Google has announced that it has pushed back its plans to phase out third-party cookies. The original date for the end of third-party cookies on Chrome was January 2022 but this has now been extended to late 2023.
Third-party cookies will be phased out over a three-month period in late 2023 and this will only happen after testing of cookieless advertising alternatives, which are part of Google’s Privacy Sandbox initiative, is complete and they are deployed via APIs in its browser.
The end of the cookie has been an ongoing topic of conversation for advertisers for well over a year now, since Google first announced it would phase out third-party cookies on its browsers. The move this week effectively pushes back the implementation of this and buys more time for alternative solutions to be tested.
The Privacy Sandbox initiative, Google’s alternative proposal to the cookie, “aims to create web technologies that both protect people’s privacy online and give companies and developers the tools to build thriving digital businesses.”
Advertisers were anticipating the ability to test for ad targeting in Google and other demand-side platforms soon, but this testing period will now be pushed back. In a blog published on Thursday, Google said that there is more time needed to get this ecosystem right and Google’s current trial of FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts), part of its Privacy Sandbox, will end on July 13th 2021. One key difference in the Privacy Sandbox construct vs. third-party cookies is that in the Privacy Sandbox scenario, consumer data stays on the browser.
FLoCs are one of main alternatives being explored by Google to replace the cookie, the approach allocates users to groups (called cohorts) based on their browsing behaviours with advertising then targeted based on memberships of those cohorts.
Although more details are expected in due course, the revised timeline set out by Google is:
The much-anticipated cookieless world will now be further in the future than planned but Google’s move, which also comes at a time when there is increased scrutiny on the company from national competition commissions, means that the industry has more time to plan for the change. This is very much a delay, not a reversal of approach, as the underlying drive for more privacy focused advertising solutions has not changed.