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The Cookie Hasn’t Crumbled Yet: Google delays the phase-out of Third-Party Cookies

In 2020, Google shook up the advertising world when it announced in 2020 that it would phase out third-party cookies in its Chrome browser by late 2023. Google decided to phase out these cookies after Apple restricted advertisers’ access to their user data in its IOS operating system. Google has recently stated it is pushing back the date to late 2024. The reason? They need more time to test the new technologies being used before replacing the current third-party cookies in Chrome.

Because Apple’s IOS changes made advertising less effective, this Google announcement did not go over well in the digital advertising community. Google has since reassured the marketing industry that the new tracking system will be more effective than the previous method without jeopardizing privacy.

The Privacy Sandbox is the new technology that Google will release to replace third-party cookies. First-party cookies will remain unaffected.

Difference between First and Third-party cookies

First-Party Cookies: You visit a website and it creates the cookie. This is an agreement between the visitor and the website to improve the user experience. It is not controversial, and the information only goes to the party whose website you visited.

Third-Party Cookies: These cookies are used by organizations that want to sell you something. They are used to show ads, take you to a website, etc. These are saved in your browser and track all the sites you visit, shopping habits, and hobbies, and then serve ads targeted to you.

The biggest difference between these two types of cookies is that anyone can create a third-party cookie, but only the website you visit can create and host a first-party cookie.

What is Google’s Privacy Sandbox Technology?

As with many development announcements, not many details are known other than Google’s basic focus. According to Wikipedia: “The Privacy Sandbox is an initiative led by Google to create web standards for websites to access user information without compromising privacy. Its core purpose is to facilitate online advertising without the use of third-party cookies.

Google has released beta trial versions of the Privacy Sandbox APIs in Chrome over the past six months, which has led to the decision that the technology “isn’t quite there yet.” 

Anthony Chavez, VP of Google’s Privacy Sandbox, described it as:

“This deliberate approach to transitioning from third-party cookies ensures that the web can continue to thrive, without relying on cross-site tracking identifiers or covert techniques like fingerprinting.

By Q3 2023, we expect the Privacy Sandbox APIs to be launched and generally available in Chrome. As developers adopt these APIs, we now intend to begin phasing out third-party cookies in Chrome in the second half of 2024.”

Ongoing Scrutiny from Advertisers

Despite the reassurance from Google, this decision is still being scrutinized in the digital advertising community. Especially when people watch big tech with a sharp eye, some experts are concerned Google’s decision to fade out cookies could increase its power in the digital advertising market, where it already dominates. I’m optimistic that these changes will make the web a safer, more productive (for digital advertisers like me) place.

Worried about what Google might do next? Still have questions about the different types of cookies (aside from chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin)? Give us a call at 407-830-4550 or contact us online.