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3 min read

Google delays the ban of third-party cookies to late 2024

This article was updated on: 30.01.2023

Google’s plan to block the use of third-party cookies was originally scheduled for this year before being delayed until the end of 2023. Google has announced a second extension to phase out the use of cookies by the second half of 2024.

Following suit of other web browsers such as Firefox and Safari, Google has been taking steps to phase out its use of third-party cookies. The latest announcement from Google, whilst only delaying the inevitable, has granted marketers more time to prepare for a cookieless web. 

The loss of third-party cookie data will introduce challenges to marketers. It’ll mean less visibility into the performance of campaigns, limited customer insights and targeting capabilities and attribution challenges. To overcome these issues, marketers have had to focus on building their own first-party data sets, which presents a larger challenge particularly for SMEs that have limited data capacity and infrastructure. For additional guidance in this area, we have outlined a few methods for first-party data collection in our white paper.

Why has Google extended the deadline again? 

According to the Vice President of Google’s Privacy Sandbox, Anthony Chavez, the push back is due to further testing of its Privacy Sandbox API. Privacy Sandbox is a Google-led initiative designed to explore new and alternative technologies in order to improve user privacy across the web. The most recent updates and tests of the Privacy Sandbox API have received extensive feedback from developers, marketers, and publishers industry-wide, hence why a further time window is needed to make changes. Avid followers of the initiative have pointed out that the first release of the Privacy Sandbox API was seen as a failure, in part due to the way alternative web tracking (FLoC) had been implemented. Instead, Google proposed a replacement for this: Topics API, the latest alternative to third-party cookies which testing went live on 1st July.

Google’s in-depth article explores more about what the Privacy Sandbox API is, why it’s needed and how you can get involved.

Over the course of 2023, Google will be opening up this API to more users to test. Whilst this is positive, it will lead to further feedback and updates to the API as well as other new tools, meaning more developer time will be required. So, is the new 2024 deadline realistic? We’ll be keeping a close eye on it. And we won’t be the only ones. Over the last decade, web vendors have been facing mounting criticism from legislative organisations, including the EU. The longer Google postpones its data reform initiatives, the greater its risk of being under further scrutiny. 

However, Google’s agreement with the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has provided a safety net from this scrutiny in some regions. Privacy Sandbox works closely with the CMA and Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), providing regulatory oversight and supervision with a legally-binding set of commitments to address new privacy concerns over this initiative.

What does this mean for me?

Many marketers have welcomed this extension as it has granted them more time to prepare. However, don’t get too comfortable as marketers are being advised to “use this time wisely”, it doesn’t mean that urgent action should not be taken. 

In the short term, you have more time to prepare and more time to leverage third-party data. Yes, the timeline has been pushed back, but in reality, we should be acting like it’s already here. We advise that you adopt a longer-term view and proactively build internal data capability and systems, driving first-party data collection as a top priority. Not only will this put you in a solid position by the time 2024 comes around but it will also address the consumer’s increasing concerns around the use of their personal data.

Keep up-to-date with the latest changes and updates via our dedicated blog category.

Next steps

Unsure how your business will collect the data needed to inform its digital marketing strategies in the future? Get in touch with our media solutions team for support.