All Systems Tracking for Cookie Independence Second Half of 2024

On the addressability front, last week Google hit a major milestone with its announcement that measurement and relevance APIs would be available to developers to begin scaled, live-traffic testing, in preparation for cookie deprecation. With no major changes expected to the API interfaces, testers are now able to adopt with a level of confidence and get ahead of the deadline slated for the second half of 2024. 

In Q4 of 2023 developers will be able to simulate Chrome third-party cookie deprecation for a configurable percentage of their users. This will enable developer-controlled testing that can benefit from higher levels of third-party cookie-less traffic. 

We sat down with Google’s Barbara Piermont, Director of AMER Ads Privacy this week to ask a few questions on the subject: 

IAB Canada (IABC): Chrome has officially announced third-party cookies will be deprecated in Chrome in the second half of 2024. Why is there now a big push for the industry to evolve?  

Barbara Piermont (BP): Digital advertising has been a positive force for decades, supporting access to content and services for billions of people, and enabling the transformation and growth of businesses, publishers and creators of all sizes around the world. But over the past few years, we have seen a fundamental shift in the way users feel about their privacy on the web – they are losing trust in how their personal data is being handled with 80% of people in surveyed countries saying they are concerned about the state of their online privacy. In tandem, regulators across the globe are following the same path. 

The ads ecosystem needs to evolve. It needs to be safer for people – so they feel protected and able to trust the ads they see. It needs to be more successful for publishers and creators – so they can fund quality journalism and the content people love. And it needs to be stronger for businesses – so businesses of every size have an opportunity to grow and build a global customer base.  

IABC: How can we make sure the industry is ready for the 2024 deadline? 

BP: Transitioning the internet to more privacy focused solutions is a huge undertaking that requires participation from organizations across the ecosystem. For Privacy Sandbox, Chrome has made it a priority to provide clear visibility into the proposals and plans, with multiple channels for ecosystem feedback. This process includes active participation in industry forums like the W3C, and entering into a set of Commitments with the CMA in the UK. Our Google Ads team is also working with advertisers and industry bodies across the globe to make sure new audience solutions are helpful for everyone. We will continue to welcome the industry’s collaboration on ensuring the future of effective, privacy-first advertising. 

As third-party cookies are phased out of Chrome next year, our ads teams are actively testing new privacy-preserving signals from the Privacy Sandbox to help advertisers continue to reach relevant customers and measure results, and we’re encouraged by early results so far. Over the coming months, we’ll continue to iterate and run more rounds of testing, provide regular feedback to Chrome, and publish our findings to the broader industry to help improve Topics as it continues to evolve. We encourage advertisers to also test and continue adopting innovative ads solutions that protect people’s privacy and help drive performance. 

Our industry is at a crossroads, and we believe that there is a path forward that protects people’s privacy and drives performance and outcomes for advertisers and publishers. There is lots of work and testing to still be done, but it’s consumers and users who are demanding the change, and it’s our responsibility as an industry to adapt. 
IABC: What should advertisers be doing now to prepare for next year? 

BP: For brands, being privacy ready gives your brand a competitive advantage. One recent study showed that providing a positive privacy experience can increase the share of brand preference by 49%. As advertisers prepare for next year, there’s many things they need to be thinking about today. First, we recommend they focus on deepening customer relationships with the help of consented first-party data. This includes helping your customers understand and choose how their data is used. Second, embracing AI grounded in accurate models. For years, advertisers have relied on machine learning to model conversion rates when there’s a gap in available data between an ad interaction and conversion, such as in online-to-offline transactions, and today, innovations in conversion modeling can also help us solve for unknowns in the customer journey in a privacy-safe way. Third, by embracing new technologies, like Privacy Sandbox, that don’t track people across the internet, and talking with your ad tech partners about how they are looking to integrate Privacy Sandbox APIs into their platform. 

While the industry at large continues to grapple with emerging privacy legislations, a key component to the success of any new framework will be the recognition it garners from regulators. Google’s plan has been developed in consultation with the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), in accordance with their Commitments and public timeline. Deprecating one percent of third-party cookies of Chrome users in Q1 of 2024 and achieving an abundance of testing will assist in the process to demonstrate how privacy preserving ad tech can be achieved. Once an assessment is completed by the CMA, Google plans to move beyond one percent in accordance with the late 2024 timeline. 

We look forward to discussing this and other addressability methods further at the State of the Nation event on May 31st and encourage our members to lean in and start testing these APIs as soon as possible.