Ad Industry Group Identifies Privacy Sandbox Challenges On Heels Of UK CMA Report

On the heels of the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) creating a "standstill period,” where Google must address concerns raised around its proposed Privacy Sandbox changes, the ad industry group IAB Tech Lab released a document outlining some of the challenges it found related to ad serving and the deprecation of cookies in the Google Chrome browser.

The analysis, which invites the industry to participate in a 45-day public comment period, ending March 22, identifies a variety of key issues, from problems around temporarily supporting some reporting, to neglecting legal and business requirements when participating in financial transactions in the ad auction.

Anthony Katsur, CEO, IAB Tech Lab, believes that the findings highlight the industry isn't ready yet to implement Google’s Privacy Sandbox due to limitations in accomplishing key advertising objectives.



“Chrome is focused on providing discrete components that support aspects of use cases, but which ultimately cannot be assembled into a whole that provides a viable business foundation,” he stated.

Google called IAB Tech Lab's report fundamentally flawed, with "inaccuracies and instances of incomplete information."

A Google spokesperson wrote in an email to Search & Performance Insider that "while we’re disappointed that IAB Tech Lab released the report in this state, we’re encouraged by the many IAB members who are actively building solutions using the Privacy Sandbox APIs. We look forward to partnering with the IAB Tech Lab in transitioning the industry toward more private solutions."

The CMA had similar issues to IAB Tech Lab in its latest assessment, and stated that "Google cannot proceed with third-party cookie deprecation until our concerns are resolved." During this "standstill period," a time of review, the CMA will work with Google to assess the changes.

“The open web is under threat with the demise of third-party cookies, and Google must ensure its Privacy Sandbox Solution can properly enable a thriving ecosystem for all constituents,” said Michael Schoen, EVP and GM of marketing solutions at TransUnion.

He said “long-tail publishers” see cookie deprecation as a very real threat that will “gravely” impact their business if they cannot find solutions to fill gaps in ad placement, budget management, decision making and more.

“Industry input is crucial so that Privacy Sandbox can simultaneously serve marketers' and publishers' needs for smooth integration, while protecting consumer privacy and avoiding enterprises’ first-party data leakage,” he said.

Rohan Castelino, CMO at IRIS.TV, said there are new targeting methods, such as "emotion" where advertisers can match ad creative to content.

The industry is familiar with targeting keywords and categories like "travel" or "finance" in searches, signals of intent are different in video. It's now possible to target "joy" and "anticipation" while avoiding "fear" or "disgust," he said. And it’s been proven to drive return on ad spend (ROAS) and purchases, which is accelerating the growth of these new data signals.

The IAB Tech Lab concerns include:

  • Essential event-based impression, metrics and click counting are only temporarily supported, later moving to aggregated reporting. Bid loss analysis is impossible, making revenue reconciliation and troubleshooting extremely difficult.
  • Brand safety concerns that prompt advertisers to navigate potential threats to the integrity of their advertisements and ensuring alignment with desired contexts and values.
  • Google's implementation of an ad exchange and ad server in the Chrome browser introduces in-browsing computing implications and significant re-tooling of the programmatic advertising ecosystem. This affects addressability, reporting mechanisms, ad rendering processes, bidding decisioning capabilities, and concerns around scaling the Privacy Sandbox as it ramps, challenging publishers and advertisers to innovate within these limitations.
  • With Chrome acting as an active participant in a financial transaction, described as the ad auction, and delivery of goods such as serving the ad, it creates concerns if Privacy Sandbox neglects legal and business requirements. Failure to incorporate these considerations can result in legal penalties and loss of trust from customers and partners.
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