Google Chrome's Third-Party Cookie Phaseout Forcing Industry To Adapt

Google has officially begun to phase out third-party cookies by implementing a default browser feature called Tracking Protection. When activated, it will cut off a website’s access to third-party cookies.

The browser feature began rolling out randomly to 1% of Chrome users globally today, marking the year’s first notable step toward privacy for consumers and third-party cookie deprecation for the industry.

Marketers will adapt. “While it’s an adjustment for everyone, it’s actually a valuable move,” said Anthony Yell, Razorfish chief creative officer. “It might take some adjustment to communicate as effectively in a world with cookies, a world without cookies is a wonderful thing.”

Change is never easy, especially when it means moving away from a 30-year-old tool that provides data to more efficiently target ads to consumers.



To support the move, IAB Tech Lab, the technical arm of the IAB standards body, on Thursday announced a donation from Index Exchange -- the advanced Privacy Sandbox Demo tool -- to the Privacy Sandbox Taskforce.

This demo tool will provide an open-source platform to explore and comprehend the functionalities of Google’s Privacy Sandbox Protected Audience APIs.

Will 1% make a big enough impact to test these new processes?

“One percent might seem like a small number, but when considering the size of the open web, Google’s implementation of its Tracking Protection solution will absolutely be felt -- and marketers should be ready to question its impact on their overall campaign controls and KPIs,” Joseph Dressler, vice president of sales for the Americas, at Adform, wrote in an email to MediaDailyNews.

While omnichannel transparency seems to be high in demand, Dressler wrote, many still rely on Google Analytics, which has proven repeatedly to have massive holes in how it measures non-cookie environments. 

Jeremy Haft, CRO at performance marketing agency Digital Remedy, believes Google will “back off” from completely deprecating cookies, but if this initial test proves to be successful, it could impact many areas of advertising. For example, limited ability to target most sought-after audiences because options to identify and segment those audiences will become limited. Measurement and attribution models will break due to data being more difficult to action by channel, partner, and media type.

Personalizing consumer ad experience will take a hit leading to more generic and less targeted messaging and creative.

“If Google does end up completely deprecating cookie tracking, this opens up the opportunity for innovation in the industry for new solutions focused on targeting, measurement and attribution,” Haft says.

Not all believe that 1% will dramatically alter what has already taken place. Some 30% to 50% of the web already blocks third-party cookies in Safari and Firefox by default, and that has yet to spur meaningful adoption of third-party cookieless solutions from brands and agencies, according to Alexandra Theriault, CGO at Lotame, a data solutions company.

“Despite universal IDs being adopted by tens of thousands of publishers globally, the demand from agencies and brands to leverage these alternative solutions is meager,” she says. “Google adding 1% of their piece of the pie isn't going to drive the intended reaction necessary to prepare the industry for the end of the year.”

The 1% is a test to ensure Google’s Privacy Sandbox changes work, but Theriault believes that the “watered-down targeting capabilities that may offer targeting are a far cry from the precision agencies and brands are accustomed to, and the result will be worse-performing campaigns, a hit to most publisher's yield, and less relevant ads for consumers.”

“Google’s move to deprecate third-party cookies for millions of Chrome users will be a wake-up call for unprepared advertisers, says Mathieu Roche, CEO and co-founder at ID5.

Roche believes the change will urge them to move rapidly and adopt and test privacy-conscious alternatives such as universal IDs, Identity Graphs and Data Clean Rooms. He estimates that advertisers only have a few months left to ensure they can effectively engage with their audiences and measure results in the long term.


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