What’s next in the ongoing saga of The Cookie-pocalypse?

As global concerns continue to escalate within the landscape of consumer privacy and data protection, the digital advertising ecosystem continues to assess the impact of the phasing out of third-party cookies.

Third-party cookies are Google tracking codes used to track ads and target people so that advertising is seen at the right time in right place by the right person.

Google intends to delete third party cookie-based tracking from Chrome and replace it with their Google Privacy Sandbox, which comprises of a specific set of privacy safe APIs aimed at striking a balance between consumer privacy and the needs publishers and advertisers to continue to deliver relevant and targeted advertising to consumers.

However, the applications (APIs) are completely new in their workings to the industry and as such, they need to be tested versus what is currently available and normal practice.

The APIs use machine learning to group users with similar interests into cohorts which can be used for advertising and content personalisation. How does this differ from current third-party cookies?  Unlike cookies, these grouped cohorts will not contain any personally identifiable information, and users can opt-out if they don’t wish to participate.

However, the roll out of Privacy Sandbox has significant potential to impact ad tech system across revenue, the cost of advertising, and changes to business practises due to the adoption requirements in measurement and reporting.

This week, two industry bodies, the IAB Tech Lab and the UK based CMA (Competition and Markets Authority) produced reports expressing concerns regarding Google’s Privacy Sandbox.

The IAB: “Our findings highlight that the industry isn’t ready yet and identify multiple challenges to implementation due to limitations in accomplishing key advertising objectives. Chrome is focused on providing discrete components that support aspects of use cases, but which ultimately cannot be assembled into a whole that provides a viable business foundation.”

The CMA:  Further progress is needed by Google to resolve our competition concerns ahead of deprecation.  We are particularly keen on resolving any remaining concerns relating to the design of the Privacy Sandbox tools and to ensure that Google does not use the tools in a way that self-preferences its own advertising services.

In short, there remains substantial concern around Privacy Sandbox useability and anti-competitiveness ahead of the proposed cookie phase out.

We will be keeping a close eye on Google’s next steps as they move to address global industry concerns, particularly regarding the owned and operated products Google have been investing in the last 2 years: Google Ad Manager and Performance Max.  These will also be fully controlled by Google and begs the question; is another walled garden being created? 




author avatar
Chris Thomas