Google postpones cookies demise to 2024

Google postpones cookies demise to 2024

Google’s plan to kill the cookie just got delayed again, and now it won’t come until the second half of 2024. The move gives a reprieve to advertisers who rely on the technology to target ads online, but also postpones the inevitable demise of cookies, which have been a source of privacy concerns for years.

On Wednesday, Google confirmed that it pushed back the timeframe for when it would ditch third-party cookies in Chrome web browsers. Cookies are files that websites and third-party ad tech companies drop on people’s browsers when they visit a website, a technology that dates back to the foundations of online advertising in the 1990s. Apple’s Safari and other browsers have already phased out third-party cookies in the name of privacy, and Google had promised to implement similar anti-tracking policies by 2023.

“We now intend to begin phasing out third-party cookies in Chrome in the second half of 2024,” Anthony Chavez, Google’s VP of Privacy Sandbox, said in an announcement on Wednesday.

Insider was first to report on the delay.

Cookie deprecation is one piece of a program Google dubbed Privacy Sandbox, which launched in 2021 to develop new ways of targeting and measuring ads on Chrome without using personally identifiable information. Privacy Sandbox initiatives also are being tested on Android devices. The concept is to use less personal data, aggregate groups of information that couldn’t identify people, to run ad auctions and measure the efficiency of ads. In 2020, Google initially promised it would get rid of third-party cookies in Chrome by 2022, but its plans have faced multiple delays.

Apple has been pushing the envelope on anti-tracking features on the Safari web browser and on its devices, as the industry responds to changing norms around privacy. Meanwhile, Google has been trying to follow suit but faces greater scrutiny, particularly when its changes affect the advertising ecosystem. Google is the largest internet advertising company, with a critical role on the buy and sell side of ad tech, serving publishers and advertisers. Google’s plan to deprecate cookies garnered attention from European regulators, including the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority. The regulator raised concerns that if Google locks down data on its ecosystem, then that could be to the disadvantage of independent publishers and ad tech players.

“We’ve worked closely to refine our design proposals based on input from developers, publishers, marketers, and regulators via forums like the W3C,” Chavez said in Google’s announcement, “and earlier this year, we reached an agreement with the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on how we develop and release the Privacy Sandbox in Chrome worldwide.”

Google referred to ad tech companies like Criteo and Adobe, which could benefit from more time to prepare for cookie deprecation.

“We were expecting them to announce this given the limited progress they're making on Privacy Sandbox and the air cover provided by the CMA's investigation,” said Mathieu Roche, CEO of ID5, a post-cookie identity firm.

Roche said that publishers and advertisers still need to prep now for a cookieless world, with or without Google, because platforms like Apple have already made consumers unreachable through cookies. “Google killing cookies or not is irrelevant, brands and publishers already need to move on to something better,” Roche said.

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