Google delays end of third-party cookies for third time


The industry reacts: “Relying on and paying for big tech is like sitting on a freeway in neutral.”

Google has announced it is delaying the end of third-party cookies in its Chrome browser due to regulatory oversight in the UK. 

This delay marks the third time Google has pushed back its original deadline set in January 2020.

In a statement, Google said it recognises there are ongoing challenges related to reconciling divergent feedback from the industry, regulators, and developers.

“We will continue to engage closely with the entire ecosystem,” the statement read.

“It’s also critical that the U.K. Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has sufficient time to review all evidence including results from industry tests, which the CMA has asked market participants to provide by the end of June. Given both of these significant considerations, we will not complete third-party cookie deprecation during the second half of Q4.”

The tech giant’s original promise was that third-party cookies would vanish from Chrome by the end of 2024, but the CMA raised 39 “concerns” to be addressed before the plan could proceed back in January. 

A spokesperson from the CMA said it welcomes Google’s announcement clarifying the timing of third-party cookie deprecation. 

“This will allow time to assess the results of industry tests and resolve remaining issues,” the spokesperson said.

“Under the commitments, Google has agreed to resolve our remaining competition concerns before going ahead with third-party cookie deprecation. Working closely with the ICO we expect to conclude this process by the end of 2024.”

James McDonald, co-founder and director of Audience Group said that the news of Google’s delay is irrelevant to anyone who is thinking beyond traditional digital performance media strategies. 

“Cookies have been deprecated in non-Chrome browsers for a long time. Anyone who isn’t prepared with a first-party data strategy and a non-pixel measurement strategy, should not delay,” he said.

“A non-cookie targeting approach using your first-party data will be at least as good as a cookie-based approach and it sets you up for post-cookie world while also allowing you to better target iOS devices and non-Chrome browsers.”

Google’s replacement for third-party cookies is The Privacy Sandbox. It’s an initiative led by Google to create web standards for websites to access user information without compromising privacy.

Founder and director of ZRO FOX David Gaskill added that anybody involved in testing Privacy Sandbox and the alternative solutions will attest that Google isn’t ready. 

“It’s widely recognised that Google’s proposed alternatives to third-party cookies are not up to scratch, but fortunately, others in the market are creating solutions that are,” he said. 

“Data ownership for brands, extending beyond their first-party audience data, is critical to long-term success. With Gen AI looming large on the horizon as an integral part of all business, the best way to prepare for the future is to have owned data inform all aspects of strategy and business.

“Today’s news has once again demonstrated why smart brands and businesses are investing in owning their own data and diversification. Relying on and paying for big tech is like sitting on a freeway in neutral.”

Head of media at Orange Line, Gavin Chew, said that the delay of the end of third-party cookies is unsurprising, and stressed that it’s important that Google gets it right. 

“It’s super important that Google gets this right, especially since Chrome has the biggest piece of the pie in terms of users,” he said. 

“At the moment, Privacy Sandbox isn’t living up to what was promised, and the issues that have been flagged seem to say it gives Google an advantage. It’s almost like they build the car, they drive the car, and they create the road at the moment.”

Dan Richardson, director of data and insights AUSEA at Yahoo, said: “Google’s new timeline helps the industry continue to test and adapt. Beyond even cookies, non-addressable inventory will only increase and the industry should act now to prepare for these changes.

“Either way, Yahoo is ready to support advertisers today, with solutions for addressable and non-addressable environments, as well as testing in the Privacy Sandbox.” 

ADMA welcomed the approach from Google in delaying the end of third-party cookies in recognition of ongoing challenges.

“While this announcement confirms that third-party cookie deprecation by Google will no longer be completed in 2024, ADMA reminds businesses that the reliance on third-party cookies is already changing, and alternative options are already available to test and adopt,” Sarla Fernando, director of regulatory and advocacy at ADMA, said.

“I would further encourage these businesses to not take Google’s announcement as an excuse to further delay preparing their businesses for the changes that will eventually come.

“The marketing landscape has been undergoing significant changes and these will only accelerate with the upcoming Privacy Act reforms. The changes will have a dramatic impact on the marketing landscape for almost every brand and every size of business.

“We don’t need to know the exact dates of cookie deprecation or privacy reform legislation to start preparing your business for this change.

“Every business can start to prepare itself now and get ahead of the competition so that they are ready for when we no longer have the option to operate in the way we have been to date. This goes for how a business uses cookies (both first and third party) or its need to build first party data strategies that help support good and trustworthy customer experiences.

“New frameworks are coming in, regardless of whether they are motivated by platform changes or regulatory reform, so it is vital all businesses are alert to their responsibilities (and opportunities) in this environment.”

Google said it remains committed to engaging closely with the CMA and ICO and hopes to conclude that process this year.

“Assuming we can reach an agreement, we envision proceeding with third-party cookie deprecation starting early next year.”

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