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Back to the Future (Again): How to Leverage the Third-Party Cookie Deprecation Delay

Garrett McGrath, Senior Vice President, Product Management

May 6, 2024 | 4 min read

The industry’s preparation for the deprecation of third-party cookies has been granted yet another extension. Google has pushed back its timeline for the third time since initially announcing its intention to deprecate third-party cookies.  

This wasn’t a surprise for many companies and individuals, especially those heavily invested in Privacy Sandbox discussions. But let’s face it – tackling this issue is no easy feat. Google deserves credit for its ongoing effort into Privacy Sandbox. It’s a complex challenge, and they’re putting in the legwork. 

The underlying issue is that the industry needs to migrate an operating process that took years to define and perfect onto these new building blocks. However, these blocks are incomplete and not well understood. The industry supports privacy and the elimination of cookies, but not at the cost of damaging publisher livelihood.

However, the industry as a whole is lagging behind readiness. Despite Google’s coaxing to test the Privacy Sandbox APIs with the 1% third-party cookie deprecation roll-out in January, adoption remains limited. While companies like Magnite are actively testing, the open Internet is far from ready. 

With multiple date shifts, confusing documentation scattered across the web, and many unanswered questions about Privacy Sandbox’s impact (and timeline), the majority of publishers and ad tech players are still in a wait-and-see mode. That decision was only validated after Google’s April 23, 2024 announcement. 

It’s a tough hill to climb. But this is not the time for finger-pointing, nor is it a time for our industry to sit back further and wait. Instead, this delay provides some much-needed breathing room for Google to properly address the industry’s concerns. This would include building needed capabilities and potentially significant changes to the program structure. Google’s engagement with the industry does exist. However, most of it does not result in the changes we need. We implore Google to find a better way to engage and develop key missing functionality.

Before the April 23 announcement, Chrome insisted that cookies would be gone in Q4 of 2024.  While that timeframe raised concerns for businesses, it’s critical to note that Google isn’t solely responsible for determining the removal date of third-party cookies in Chrome. That duty belongs to the CMA per the Commitments, which is finally being acknowledged more overtly by Google (note the “*Subject to…” language on the first timeline on the above link).  

So now the date is Q1 2025 – probably. However, we all need to remove the “probably” from that sentence and get to work. This will happen at some point, and the industry needs to lean in hard. Demand real collaboration from Google – not just Chrome, but also GAM and DV360 – and help design a system that is both privacy-friendly and fits the needs of our multi-billion dollar web advertising business. It’s absolutely possible if we all roll up our sleeves and work together.

In time, we’ll be in a first-party-centric, privacy-forward world with control in the hands of publishers and end users in an open Internet advertising world. Magnite has already gotten started empowering publishers to manage, create, and transact audience segments in a variety of ways across our Magnite Access Suite, as identity shifts to the sell-side. 

In this world, the balance of power is actually balanced, and advertising can be both safe and effective. The mechanics of our industry are clearly understood, publishers and advertisers are both fairly rewarded, and phrases like “surveillance advertising” are a thing of the past. 

The same world Magnite and others have been championing through active advocacy and technical solutions for many years. 

Tags: Identity, Seller

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