With social media platforms still reeling from the impacts of Apple’s ATT user privacy update, Google too is also looking to implement its own, similar control options for Android, while it’s also looking to phase out third-party tracking cookies on the web, in line with evolving data privacy standards.
But that won’t happen for a while yet, with Google today announcing that it’s expanding the testing period for its Privacy Sandbox, and its alternative tracking tools, in order to give the industry more time to provide feedback and adjust to the coming shift.
As explained by Google:
“Improving people's privacy, while giving businesses the tools they need to succeed online, is vital to the future of the open web. That's why we started the Privacy Sandbox initiative to collaborate with the ecosystem on developing privacy-preserving alternatives to third-party cookies and other forms of cross-site tracking. Over the past several months, we've released trial versions of a number of new Privacy Sandbox APIs in Chrome for developers to test.”
Those initial tests have helped Google improve and refine its system. But development partners say they need more time to determine the best future approach.
“The most consistent feedback we’ve received is the need for more time to evaluate and test the new Privacy Sandbox technologies before deprecating third-party cookies in Chrome. This feedback aligns with our commitment to the CMA to ensure that the Privacy Sandbox provides effective, privacy-preserving technologies and the industry has sufficient time to adopt these new solutions. This deliberate approach to transitioning from third-party cookies ensures that the web can continue to thrive, without relying on cross-site tracking identifiers or covert techniques like fingerprinting.”
With this in mind, Google is now expanding the testing window for its Privacy Sandbox APIs before it moves to disable third-party cookies in Chrome.
“We now intend to begin phasing out third-party cookies in Chrome in the second half of 2024. As always, you can find up-to-date timelines and milestones on the Privacy Sandbox website.”
Google had initially outlined a plan to phase out cookie tracking by late 2023 – so now, you have more time before you need to be concerned about data alternatives, and the impacts on your tracking process, which means that you also now have more opportunity to establish direct, first-party data collection processes and community-building initiatives to help maximize your digital marketing, without the need for cookie tracking.
That’ll also give you more time to familiarize yourself with Google’s topic-based approach to future ad targeting, which will provide a way to focus your advertising on likely interested users based on aggregated info, not personal data tracking.
At present, this approach is the most viable alternative to cookie tracking - so instead of providing specific insight on individual user behaviors and interests, Google will enable advertisers and publishers to utilize topics for tracking, protecting user information while also catering to third-party data needs.
It will mean a big shift in approach for marketers, pushing more towards alternative tracking options based on direct user consent. But that will also give users more control, which is a key tenet of evolving privacy initiatives.