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Apr 26, 2024

Google delays cookieless, yet again

Dayna Lang
Author Dayna Lang

Google has, for the third time, delayed its self-imposed deadline to eliminate third-party cookies from its Chrome browser. The company has already delayed the inevitable twice, and now it is pushing cookieless back a third time. Google announced the deadline shift on April 23, 2024, breaking its previous promise to remove all third-party cookies by the end of the second quarter of 2024. 

The search giant attributes the delay to pressures from industry regulators. In its official statement, Google says the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) needs “sufficient time to review all evidence including results from industry tests.” 

The UK antitrust regulator is keeping close tabs on Google’s Chrome Privacy Sandbox, a tool central to the company’s cookieless strategy. The CMA requested market feedback on the targeting tool by the end of June. 

Roadblocks pushing back deadlines

The CMA is keen to ensure Google’s elimination of third-party cookies doesn’t have an explosive impact on the advertising industry. The CMA ordered Google to pause its cookie phase-out in February of 2024.

Several publishers and AdTech companies prompted the CMA investigation after raising concerns regarding Google’s Privacy Sandbox. The companies argue that the Privacy Sandbox self-preferences Google’s own ad products, in particular Google Ad Manager. This potentially violates anti-competition rules. 

In February of 2024, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Tech Lab’s Privacy Sandbox Task Force also flagged issues with Google’s Privacy Sandbox, finding that many of its use cases for digital advertising aren’t currently possible using the Sandbox’s APIs.

Since the Privacy Sandbox is so central to Google’s plan, any delays in its production result in delays in the death of third-party cookies. 

But even with the deadline (once again) extended, marketers should go ahead with their cookieless plans. 

Don’t get too comfy – cookieless is still happening

Even though Google is dragging in its plans to eliminate third-party cookies from its platforms, other companies like Mozilla have already gone ahead with their cookieless plans. More will come, and Google will (eventually) follow through on its promise. 

Marketers must keep working to find the critical solutions needed to fill the gap third-party cookies leave behind. Just because they have been given an extension, doesn’t mean marketers can afford to procrastinate. 

Privacy concerns and issues surrounding consent are going to continue to put pressure on Google. These issues aren’t going away, and so Google’s promise to eliminate third-party cookies won’t either. It is simply a matter of time. 

Marketers should take this pause as a breather and use it to enhance their cookieless strategies going forward. For marketers prepared for cookie loss, this gives them time to put their hard work into practice early and get a head start. For marketers left in the lurch by cookieless marketing, this time is a much-needed opportunity to learn and pivot before it’s too late. 

Third-party cookies are still on the way out the door, but marketers have been given some time. They should use it wisely.

 

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