Google filed its first progress report to the UK’s antitrust regulator this week on its plans to replace third-party cookies in Chrome with APIs from the Privacy Sandbox.
But the report makes it clear how much work still needs to be done before third-party cookies can be removed, a decision the CMA must approve. “They’re not even getting to the really tough stuff yet,” says our senior editor, James Hercher.
What Google has done hasn’t appeased its detractors, either. Multiple APIs that try to recreate the functionality of targeting and measurement can’t replicate the exact power dynamics of a third-party cookie. A targeting solution like Topics, for example, creates a situation in which small sites contribute more meaningful data than large sites, like Google’s own YouTube.com, as CafeMedia’s Paul Bannister noted on Twitter.
It’s unlikely these kinks will be worked out in time to meet Google’s self-imposed 2023 deadline, and even that could benefit Google.
“Delay is good for Google,” Hercher says.
A delay means advertisers and publishers will continue to default to the status cookie quo. Google gets credit for trying to make privacy-related changes while continuing to be the only major browser that still supports third-party cookies. Delay also means avoiding further antitrust entanglement.
“Google cannot pull any of these strings without disadvantaging someone,” Hercher says.
Also in this episode: As the third-party cookie lingers in terminal condition, there’s one area everyone is investing in: first-party data. Building off a recent installment in our ongoing AdExplainer series, we define first-party data and interrogate the notion that its use better protects an individual’s privacy.