Google Clarifies Its Stance On Post-Cookie Advertising IDs – And It’s Not Good For Ad Tech

Google gave its clearest guidance yet regarding how the company will treat shared advertising identifiers once third-party cookies are removed from Chrome.

And it’s not good news for ad tech companies that have championed universal ID programs.

In March, Google’s director of product management for ads privacy and trust, David Temkin, confirmed in a company blog post that Google would not build alternate identifiers once third-party cookies are deprecated in Chrome, nor allow them in Google products.

Still, that left some wiggle room for other companies to build and use such identifiers themselves. LiveRamp clarified that, after consulting with Google, ad buyers could use its IdentityLink ID to transact on SSPs, but only in private marketplace deals.

“Since that post, I’ve spent a lot of time with clients and partners that have worked with us to develop Unified ID 2.0 (UID2), correcting misinformation, and interpreting Google’s recent moves,” wrote The Trade Desk CEO Jeff Green in an AdExchanger column later that month.

Google still hasn’t explicitly said whether or how it will allow UID2, or user-level advertising IDs in general, once third-party cookies are phased out. But the most explicit lines yet came from Google VP and GM of ads Jerry Dischler during the company’s Google Marketing Livestream event on Thursday.

“Third-party cookies and other proposed identifiers that some in the industry are advocating for do not meet the rising expectations that consumers have when it comes to privacy. They will not stand up to rapidly evolving regulatory restrictions. They simply cannot be trusted in the long term,” Dischler said.

Eighty-one percent of people surveyed by Google said that the potential risks of data collection outweigh the benefits, such as unfettered access to ad-supported content. Dischler said that in the past year Google has also seen consumers vote with their feet, so to speak, by using new account and browser privacy controls to disable tracking.

Google already doesn’t participate in the UID2, so it isn’t a shock to hear the GM of ads platform reiterate that the company won’t touch alternate “proposed identifiers”. And it’s important to note he didn’t call out UID2 specifically. But Google is a bellwether for agencies, advertisers and other ad tech companies when it comes to regulatory lines.

Recall that ad tech companies expected Google to join the IAB Europe’s Transparency and Consent Framework (TCF), the industry’s mechanism for conveying programmatic consent signals to comply with GDPR, in August 2018. But it took two years and a major revision for the TCF to pass muster with Google, and in the meantime, the industry framework languished with low adoption.

It is an ominous sign for online advertising ID initiatives that Dischler explicitly noted that such identifiers do not meet user privacy expectations and will not stand up to regulatory review.

Dischler speaks for Google’s ad platform, not for Google Chrome. But they share the same lawyers.

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