Google delays third-party cookie

Google delays third-party cookie phaseout. Brief description of the plunge:

Google will drop third-party cookies in 2023, according to a company blog post. The tech giant previously said it would stop supporting third-party cookies by 2022.
Google plans to roll out the new privacy technology by the end of next year. Once testing is complete, publishers and the advertising industry will have time to migrate their services during a nine-month period that begins in late 2022, before a three-month cookie phase-out that ends in late 2023.

The delay in the cookie phase-out gives the advertising industry more time to develop alternative targeting and consumer tracking options and comes amid renewed regulatory and antitrust interest in Google’s advertising business in the U.S. and the European Union.

Dive Insight:

Google’s delay in phasing out third-party cookies should bring some relief to an advertising industry that is rapidly approaching the initial deadline for phasing out a crucial backbone of digital marketing. Regardless of the timing, the phase-out of third-party cookies is likely to deal a serious blow to ad tracking and consumer targeting efforts if alternative mechanisms are not created and widely implemented in time. Google is expanding its Privacy Sandbox offerings as an alternative, but the advertising industry rejects them as an ineffective substitute and is stymied by the tech giant’s radio silence on the issue.

“Despite significant progress on [Privacy Sandbox], it has become clear that more time is needed for the ecosystem to work properly,” Vinay Goel, Chrome’s director of privacy development, said in a blog post.

Google said it plans to continue working with developers to improve privacy in several areas, including ad measurement, delivery of relevant ads and content, and fraud detection, while balancing privacy goals with the needs of various stakeholders and regulators, according to the blog post.

The company also reiterated its commitment to ensure that third-party cookies are not replaced by alternative forms of individual tracking or “covert approaches,” such as fingerprints. It’s unclear how this latest development will affect the alternatives to third-party cookies that have continued to gain traction in the past year, including Unified ID 2.0 from The Trade Desk and Panorama ID from Lotame, but an increased timeline for Google to develop its own alternatives could undermine those efforts.

The decision to set aside the issue of devaluing third-party cookies comes at a time when Google is facing increased scrutiny from regulatory and antitrust authorities in both the U.S. and the EU. On Tuesday, the European Commission launched a new investigation into Google to see if the company’s advertising technology violated antitrust laws. Similarly, a U.S. House committee approved legislation that would prevent tech giants, including Google and rival Facebook, from favoring their own products on their platforms.

The antitrust focus likely makes it harder for Google to undermine the independent ad-tech industry with its privacy plans while fending off allegations of anti-competitive behavior. Critics argued that abandoning cookies would help Google’s huge advertising business because the company would still be able to offer advertisers more detailed targeting on YouTube and other of its own resources.

Ultimately, Google’s delay ensures that questions about how to address privacy and tracking in digital marketing will remain relevant for the next two years. Getting the question right is critical as the importance of digital marketing continues to grow, but a longer timeline is likely to make things more difficult for marketers.

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