Cookies get a stay of execution from Google
The digital advertising eco-system which depends so heavily on third-party cookies can breathe a sigh of relief — for the time being, anyway. The plan to deprecate the cookies on the Chrome browser by 2022 has changed. They will now be phased out in a three-month period beginning in mid-2023. In an announcement, Google said this reflects a desire to “move at a responsible pace.”
It also surely reflects both the confusion among advertisers and publishers confronted by a multitude of alternative identifiers, few of which claim to be able to identify non-logged in users (the vast majority), as well as hurdles facing Google’s proposed alternative, FLoC, including difficulties with European regulators.
The announcement went on to say that the delay “will allow sufficient time for public discussion on the right solutions, continued engagement with regulators, and for publishers and the advertising industry to migrate their services. This is important to avoid jeopardizing the business models of many web publishers which support freely available content.”
Public development process. Google’s public development process before launch allows the public and regulators to have a say in the third-party cookie deprecation process:
- Discussion: The technologies and their prototypes are discussed in forums like GitHub or W3C groups.
- Testing: The technologies are rigorously tested in Chrome through potentially numerous origin trials, allowing for transparency and feedback throughout.
- Ready for adoption: Once the development process is complete, the successful technologies are ready to be used at scale. They will be launched in Chrome and ready for scaled use across the web.
From there, if the solutions pass the commitments Google has made to the CMS, the rollout will begin:
- Stage 1 (Starting late-2022): Once testing is complete and APIs are launched in Chrome, we will announce the start of stage 1. During stage 1, publishers and the advertising industry will have time to migrate their services. We expect this stage to last for nine months, and we will monitor adoption and feedback carefully before moving to stage 2.
- Stage 2 (Starting mid-2023): Chrome will phase out support for third-party cookies over a three month period finishing in late 2023.
More details. Google plans to release a more detailed schedule on privacysandbox.com.
Why we care. Many advertisers have rightfully been worried about what the rollout of Google’s privacy initiatives and the blocking of third-party cookies means for their metrics and their clients. This delay means that there is an opportunity for search marketers’ concerns to be heard by the tech giant and that there is more time to prepare for the major changes — including finding technology solutions that adjust when cookies are deprecated, figuring out a first-party data strategy, and pulling data from other sources.
Additional reporting by Carolyn Lyden