Google Hits Back At IAB After Releasing Privacy Sandbox Report

It took Google more than a week to dispute claims made about Privacy Sandbox in a new report by the IAB Tech Lab that suggests it may make it more difficult to serve effective ads, and could put smaller brands and media companies at a major disadvantage.

Google stated that the analysis contains a significant amount of inaccurate information, and that it overlooks and ignores the broader goal of Privacy Sandbox --  to improve user privacy while still enabling effective digital advertising.

“In our view, the analysis contains many misunderstandings and inaccuracies, which we consider important to correct in order to provide accurate information to the ecosystem,” Google states in the response published Thursday.



Google's response to the IAB Tech Lab's analysis focuses on the Technical Assessment section, providing detailed commentary and clarifications across the five programmatic advertising categories outlined in the report: Audience Management, Auction Dynamics, Creative Delivery and Rendering, Reporting and Interoperability.

Like many others, Optable Co-Founder and CPO Bosko Milekic believes that although the Privacy Sandbox APIs may not provide a direct replacement for third-party cookies and mobile ad IDs, that should not be the ultimate goal. Instead, ensuring that the technology enables fair competition should be the priority for industry groups and regulators.

“If the IAB had involved Google at the start rather than excluding them, the initiative would have benefitted not only by having the source of feedback as close as possible, but also to align on what actions can be taken,” said Katie Cladis, vice president of product at Digital Remedy, a performance marketing agency. “It seems that the focus of the IAB's report was on replicating existing processes, whereas Google's Privacy Sandbox initiative is focused on replacing existing processes with a focus on achieving similar business outcomes.”

Despite the inconstancy, per Google, the company believes "it's important to listen to what IAB Tech Lab is presenting and the ecosystem has the most up to date, accurate information."

Clarifications fall into four categories: 

  • Corrections to assumptions or use case gaps that are supported by the Privacy Sandbox APIs
  • Use cases that are currently not supported by third-party cookies and are thus out of scope
  • Feedback and/or proposals that could potentially recreate cross-site tracking and go against privacy-preserving goals
  • Areas where the solution should be determined by the ad tech provider, not the browser or platform, or where the ad tech provider needs to adapt new tactics building on top of Privacy Sandbox

    Google confirmed that it plans to continue with plans to phase out third-party cookies later this year after addressing concerns raised by the UK Competition and Markets Authority.

    It has also highlighted feature requests and areas where the Privacy Sandbox team welcomes additional IAB Tech Lab feedback.

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