Cookies won’t be deleted from Chrome until 2024, according to a new announcement from Google’s Privacy Sandbox. The news bodes well for many marketers, developers and publishers, who will now have more time to innovate and adapt as they invest resources in developing alternative, privacy-preserving advertising solutions. Despite this, the industry is still feeling the heat.
Google Chrome’s elimination of third-party cookies — the technology used to track internet user behavior across the web for targeted advertising purposes — has been officially pushed back to 2024.
The move will not only give Google’s privacy sandbox team more time to refine new privacy-centric APIs, but also give developers and advertisers more opportunities to establish their own effective privacy protection technologies for the future of advertising and information delivery .
Marketers say it’s not time to lose focus on innovative privacy protection technologies / Adobe Stock
So far, media and advertising players are happy with the decision – but warn of the risk of remaining stagnant at this moment.
“The future of [digital] Identity lies in the ability to leverage direct, consumer-approved sources and be smarter about signals that aren’t tied to a consumer’s identity,” Iván Markman, Yahoo’s chief business officer, told The Drum. He says the postponement of the phasing out of cookies will give the industry “more time to test and learn”.
Nonetheless, he suggests that earlier and faster innovation will yield better results for advertisers. “Today’s adaptation of solutions brings greater reach across all assets – with or without IDs.”
The latest marketing news and insights straight to your inbox.
Get the most of The Drum by choosing from a range of great email briefings, whether they’re daily news, weekly recaps, or deep dives into media or creativity.
Some experts understand advertisers’ delight at the news that they have more time to adapt to a cookie-free future, but are more cynical about the real-world benefits of the decision. “While the industry is rejoicing, this ongoing purgatory is actually bad for the market,” said Shiv Gupta, managing partner at U of Digital, a digital marketing education company. “It will create more uncertainty, which will lead to more confusion, which will lead to even more ID solutions with no clear end in sight.”
In fact, Gupta predicts that the expansion will only allow advertisers to continue leveraging individual user-level data to generate profits. “It’s a purgatory of addressability and privacy that doesn’t allow the advertising industry to make progress in other, more meaningful areas. It breathes life into scammers trying to make money in an unstable situation instead of developing valuable marketing tools.”
While he’s cynical that the delayed cookiepocolypse will ignite a significant fire under most advertisers’ butts, he’s still urging them to move forward — and at a fast pace. “Smart marketers and publishers should try to diversify their identity approach and work with partners who can now deliver results instead of cookieless [focusing on] demanding solutions. They should act quickly and make flexible decisions that don’t bind them to major commitments in the face of ongoing uncertainty.”
Others echo the advice that this will not be a moment to fall asleep at the wheel. “Google’s persistence of third-party cookies into 2024 should not prevent the market from taking steps to future-proof its business and come to market with privacy protection solutions,” said Jessica Simpson, senior vice president of global solutions consulting and verified Technology at Publicis Media.
Adding to the urgency of the matter are a number of privacy developments happening outside of the cookie debate. “Over 25% of the world’s population is subject to privacy regulations – and that will triple by 2023,” says Simpson. “In the US, California is refreshing [its privacy legislation] the California Consumer Protection Act and work is underway to release a [federal] bipartisan privacy law.” She also notes that Apple’s privacy-focused changes are already disrupting the way business is done across the mobile, desktop, and connected TV ecosystems.
“Now is the time to get ahead of the curve by testing not just cookie replacement solutions, but true AI-based targeting, value-based data collection, and customer value-based measurement solutions.” Whether advertisers, developers, and publishers like it or not, says Simpson, “reform is coming”.
It’s also worth noting that this isn’t the first time Google has changed previously set plans for cookies. Last year, the tech giant pushed back the setting of cookies to 2023 – back from an earlier deadline in 2022. “The goalposts have been pushed back twice. The goalposts will move again – guaranteed,” predicts Gupta. “If Google is forced to spin off its adtech business before the deadline [amid ongoing antitrust efforts aimed at the tech giant]maybe the deadline will be pushed back sooner.”
Sign up for The Drum’s daily US newsletter here to learn more.