Google has again postponed the deprecation of third-party cookies on Chrome from late 2023 to the second half of 2024, giving advertisers more time to innovate for a privacy-centric digital ecosystem. In a blog post this week, Google said it would postpone the shift to give marketers more time to test its tools.
This does extend the timeline by another year, but it is consistent with Google’s commitment to not deprecate cookies until sufficient alternatives are in place. It is critical that advertisers still prioritize adapting their data systems to function in a cookie-less ecosystem to mitigate existing impacts and ensure readiness.
Why is Google delaying cookie deprecation again?
In order for third-party cookies to be deprecated on Chrome, Google’s solutions to common digital advertising use cases need to be running at scale. Most of these solutions, like FLoC replacement Topics API, are still in the testing phase and are undergoing large-scale changes in response to feedback from Google’s advertising partners. Google recently shared the current status and partner feedback for their Privacy Sandbox proposals in their Q2 report.
But Google is also under regulatory pressure to ensure their cookie-less solutions don’t give them an unfair advantage in the market, and Privacy Sandbox proposals need to be validated by the UK’s antitrust regulator Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to guarantee that they adhere to those regulations. They’ve also been under increasing antitrust scrutiny in U.S., where regulators debate whether they will need to break up their adtech to avoid antitrust concerns in light of the impact third-party cookie depreciation could have on their competitive advantage.
Was this delay a surprise?
No. Given that Privacy Sandbox solutions are yet to fully scale up in testing, Google’s latest announcement signals a shift to significantly increase the number of Chrome users within these trials, with an explicit prompt to opt in. On the publisher side, Google is continuing to develop solutions such as PPID for publishers using Google Ad Manager to share first-party data. This delay will allow these solutions to fully mature by the time the third party cookie goes away.
What does this mean for advertisers?
In light of another delay, It might be tempting to slow down preparation for the loss of third-party cookies, but delay should not make any difference in how advertisers prioritize and evolve their digital advertising strategy to work beyond third-party cookies.
"This delay should be viewed as both a sign of progress, and an opportunity," says Peter Rice, AVP Marketing Systems Strategy at Kepler. "Very few, if any, ad platforms and brands are truly ready for cookies to be deprecated, and change is still coming. It’s critical that marketers use this time to actively test developing technology.”
Cookies’ utility is already considerably diminished, especially in browsers like Safari and Firefox and in mobile environments. Advertisers should use this time to enable newer solutions as they become available:
● Ensure you have the right infrastructure to manage your first party data at scale
● Trial newer activation solutions for targeting that are privacy-led and not cookie-reliant
● Build out a measurement framework that is not dependent on third-party cookies
Kepler's Marketing Systems Strategy team recommends that brands do not slow down and instead use this time to test, learn and invest in their first-party data.
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