On Wednesday, Google announced it will further delay getting rid of third-party cookies from Chrome to 2024. Originally slated to take effect in 2022, Google first delayed third-party cookie deprecation to 2023 after failing to deliver on its promise to provide an alternative solution for marketers seeking to deliver and measure effective digital campaigns without using third-party cookies. Now it’s happening again.
In a blog, Google Privacy Sandbox Vice President Anthony Chavez wrote that the internet giant is doing so in part because of input that there is a “need for more time to evaluate and test” the new Google Privacy Sandbox platform. Chavez wrote that the company plans on rolling out the Privacy Sandbox “by Q3 2023” and will then “begin phasing out third-party cookies in Chrome in the second half of 2024.”
Google’s Chrome is the last major browser to hang onto third-party cookies in the wake of regulatory changes and consumer concerns. Safari, Firefox, and Edge all opted to get rid of third-party cookies in the past five years. Google followed them by announcing in 2020 that it planned on phasing out third-party cookies, but had no successful alternatives for publishers and marketers to reach consumers.
The loss of third-party cookies isn’t insignificant. Google’s own estimates show a median loss of publisher revenue of a staggering 64%. Epsilon research shows that 70% of marketers say digital advertising is headed in the wrong direction, and 80% aren’t confident their vendors can provide a solution. They worry that without third-party cookies, marketers won’t be able to reach the right people, leading to ad waste and the degradation of consumer-centric marketing in general.
The Sandbox was Google’s response to marketer needs in the wake of cookie deprecation. By design, Google’s Privacy Sandbox aims to create a consumer-centric, privacy-forward environment that enables targeting via Topics, a limited set of attributes based on recent browsing history, and measurement based on cohorts.
The catch? The company continues to allow itself to leverage Google-owned user-level identification while undercutting independent publishers and competing ad-tech companies’ ability to target consumers. In contrast, Google’s Privacy Sandbox offers limited contextual data that gives only limited insight into consumers.
Google’s approach has received plenty of criticism from the martech community, and evidently they still haven’t found their groove. While they continue to enhance the Sandbox to make it more acceptable for marketers, the cookie lives on.
For Epsilon, this latest twist doesn’t change anything. That’s because we saw the flaws of third-party cookies long ago, and have developed ways to connect with consumers that don’t rely on them, by working with publishers who have developed trusted first-party relationships with their audiences.
Epsilon’s people-based CORE ID is anchored to deterministic data elements, making it not only reliable in finding the right consumers, but stable against regulatory shifts. Our data is privacy-centric, pseudonymized before it enters the digital ecosystem, keeping consumer information safe.
We know that identity resolution using first-party data is the best way to establish clear and consistent relationships between brand and consumers. And at Epsilon, our solutions enable this with clear and transparent measurement at scale and across devices. Our approach respects consumer privacy while addressing the need for brands to reach their customers with meaningful messages.
While Google’s announcement leaves some wiggle room for brands still figuring out what to do in the wake of data deprecation, that doesn’t mean you should take your foot off the gas. Consider working with a partner like Epsilon, who the industry agrees is leading the way in helping marketers reach consumers and drive performance without third-party cookies, and is rated a top ID alternative for publishers by Digiday.