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Google puts third-party cookies on life support

Google has announced a delay in their plan to deprecate third-party cookies, meaning third-party cookies will continue to function.

This article was also published at Inside Retail [Paywalled]


Google has once again pushed back its plan to deprecate third-party cookies in Chrome. This latest delay highlights the regulatory scrutiny and industry challenges that Google faces in finding a privacy-forward replacement for the long-standing tracking mechanism.

What are third-party cookies?

Third-party cookies are small pieces of data placed on a user’s computer by websites other than the one they are visiting. These cookies can be used to track users’ browsing activity across the web for purposes like targeted advertising and analytics.

Why is Google deprecating third-party cookies?

User privacy concerns have been at the center of Google’s decision to phase out third-party cookies. These cookies enable tracking without explicit user knowledge or consent, leading to calls for greater transparency in data collection.

What’s behind the delay?

Google’s latest delay reflects several key factors:

  • Intense regulatory scrutiny: Watchdog agencies, especially the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), are closely examining how Google’s transition plans and Privacy Sandbox proposals might stifle competition and unfairly advantage Google’s own ad businesses.
  • Industry pushback: Publishers, adtech companies, and organizations like the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) have raised concerns about the mechanics of the Privacy Sandbox and its potential to hinder areas like advertising effectiveness and media measurement.
  • Ongoing debate over Privacy Sandbox: Google’s back-and-forth with the IAB highlights fundamental disagreements about the effectiveness and transparency of proposed Privacy Sandbox solutions.

What does this mean for your business?

Extended preparation time: You now have a longer window to explore alternatives to third-party cookies for tracking and targeting your advertising.

Regulatory uncertainty: The exact timeline for cookie deprecation remains in flux, making long-term planning challenging.

Urgent need for privacy-forward solutions: Finding solutions that don’t rely on third-party cookies is essential for adapting to the changing digital landscape.

Don’t stop preparations

Focus on first-party data: Start prioritising your own data collection and management. Building direct customer relationships is crucial for future success.

Explore alternative tracking and targeting: Investigate options like contextual targeting, and other privacy-centric solutions.

Australian Privacy Act Revisions: Proposed revisions to Australia’s Privacy Act could add a requirement for explicit user consent for data collection, while third-party cookie deprecation is delayed you should still make preparations for changes to cookie consent requirements.

Stay informed: Digital Balance will keep a close eye on the regulatory debates and evolving solutions for a cookieless future. Make sure you are subscribed to our email updates for the latest changes.

A slight delay as Google seems to suggest – isn’t the end of the world. Amelia Waddington, chief product officer at search intelligence platform Captify, agrees. “If they really delay just until early 2025, this does not make a material difference to people who were already prepared, but might give a few more months of preparation for those that were starting to panic.”

While the delay offers temporary breathing room, it underscores the complexity of replacing a long-established web technology while balancing privacy and the needs of the advertising ecosystem. This highlights the importance of actively preparing for a cookieless world, regardless of exact timelines.

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