Google cookie cutting programme delayed, again – industry reactions

Google has delayed the phasing-out of third-party cookies for a third time, following concerns about the tech giant’s Privacy Sandbox alternatives from the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority.

The long-running saga of the cookie cutting exercise will likely surprise no-one in the technology, marketing and adtech sectors.

But with the cookie deprecation programme now delayed until 2025, we’ve been asking our global industry experts for their take on the great Google cookie caper…

Joe-Root-permutiveJoe Root, co-founder & CEO, Permutive

“Advertising has overreached with data, and the huge swell in consumer choice around data has led to 70% of consumers opting out of sharing their data, making digital advertising unsustainable.

“For advertisers, that collapse in reach has led to the loss of market share and brand equity.

“For media companies, the economics of a cookie-based ecosystem don’t add up; the 50% take rates from adtech companies make digital publishing and content creation unsustainable. This is happening now before third-party cookies are even gone.

“The result is chaos and uncertainty regarding the direction for publishers and advertisers, obscured further by third-party cookie workarounds and MFA sites and we’ve been in this state for far too long.

“Advertisers are already moving out of cookie-based buying and into direct pathways to publishers, and the results are incredible. Advertisers who partnered with Permutive and premium publishers have doubled sales and halved CPAs.

“For advertisers, waiting for the cookie to deprecate fully would be inadvisable.

“Publishers have vast amounts of data to identify their audiences and make them available, and they can go direct or make that available programmatically.

“Fundamentally, this is a chance for publishers to take control and reclaim their role in the ecosystem as more than just inventory.

“Over 150 premium publishers have built strong first-party data strategies on top of Permutive, and see their CPMs typically increase 2x to 10x more.”

Jamie-Toward-TeadsJamie Toward, Head of Data, UK & Netherlands, Teads

“Is it frustrating? Yes. Should it change anything from an advertiser perspective? No.

“The same is true today that it was yesterday, targeting users today, using cookies, misses off more than half of all mobile users (who are running cookie free browsers like Safari or Firefox) and therefore a huge portion of your potential audience.

“We know cookieless solutions, executed well with sophisticated AI behind it, can drive parity – if not outperform – cookie-based targeting.

“So there really is no reason not to move away from the cookie, given Google will at some point deprecate and we’re already majority cookie free in the open web in the UK.

“It’s also important to remember why this is happening. It’s because users don’t want to be tracked, so using cookie-based tech is ultimately not how users want to engage with brands and furthers the distrust of advertising – especially in digital – that we know already exists.

“We need to move away from these tools because we need to rebuild that trust, if we do then the effectiveness of advertising will grow with it.

Mateusz-Rumiński-rtbMateusz Rumiński, VP of Product, PrimeAudience

“In general, Google has no intention to further delay the deprecation of cookies. For the last couple of months, it has been doing all it can to make the industry more prepared.

“But, at the same time, due to low ecosystem engagement, it was hard to spot all the gaps and shortcomings of the proposed Privacy Sandbox solutions.

“Now, when more companies start leaning in, problems arise that can only be observed with increased testing participation – such as latency issues. We do believe that the direction in which the Privacy Sandbox moves is the right one.

“However, bearing in mind that availability of some of the key pieces for testing, like the Bidding and Auction Services, has been severely limited, it’s unsurprising that more time is needed.

“Especially since the last timeline indicated that transition is supposed to happen before Q4, which is not the best period for such a change.

“There’s still a lot to do for all parties in this ecosystem to prepare for this change and embrace privacy-preserving solutions.

“We continue on supporting the Privacy Sandbox effort, while objectively assessing its readiness.

“It’s important to emphasise, that industry readiness doesn’t just mean the readiness of the Privacy Sandbox APIs, but also the tooling that needs to be built around them by parties vital for the proper functioning of the ecosystem, for example, SSPs.

“Nevertheless, with an extended timeline there’s more room for engaging for those that have not done so thus far, yet the clock is ticking and they have to start now.

“You can’t test everything at once – you have to move gradually, along with the gradual deprecation of third-party cookies, which was advocated by many testing leaders, such as RTB House.”

Marçal-Serrate-azerionMarçal Serrate, Director of Data Technology, Azerion

“Passively waiting for a complete third party cookie withdrawal – or an alternative full fix from Google – risks stagnating progress in the advertising industry.

“The shift away from cookies remains imminent and it’s imperative for businesses to proactively acknowledge and adapt, rather than entrusting Google to singularly lead and resolve the industry’s challenges.

“As the future unfolds, the landscape is poised to become even more fragmented in terms of available solutions.

“Thus, finding the right partner to navigate this evolving environment is paramount for achieving success, and now there will be a bit more time to focus on this.”

Wilfried-Schobeiri-OguryWilfried Schobeiri, Chief Technology Officer, Ogury

“Whether the cookie disappears from Chrome in 2024 or 2025 doesn’t matter: we’re at a decisive turning point in the protection of consumer privacy.

“This journey began way before Google made the decision to switch off cookies, and advertisers can no longer look the other way.

“While the competition concerns raised by the CMA – including governance of the Privacy Sandbox – are valid, enhanced consumer privacy and anti-tracking need to be the priority. Seeing these vital changes slowed once again has a detrimental impact on consumers.

“Advertisers should not see this as a chance to again postpone their move to cookieless or ID-less solutions.

“This latest delay should be seen as an opportunity to invest in tested and proven solutions that will allow for scale without dependency on this timeline or future industry decisions.”

jason-warner-sbsJason Warner, Director UK and EMEA, SBS

“It’s becoming increasingly clear that placing sole reliance on Google’s timeline for cookie deprecation might not serve businesses optimally. Google’s significant influence means that its decisions often disproportionately impact smaller, independent advertisers.

“This recent setback underscores the importance of diversifying the market with multiple players, rather than being dependent on a single monopoly.

“Businesses would benefit from adopting a more proactive stance instead of blindly following Google’s directives. This entails exploring alternative targeting and tracking methods, prioritising first-party data collection, and fostering industry collaboration to innovate solutions.

“By reducing reliance on cookies and, consequently, Google, businesses can better navigate changes in the digital landscape and exert greater control over their strategies.”

Piero-PavonePiero Pavone, CEO, Preciso

“Since Google’s first announcement of its impending cookie deprecation back in January 2020, tech companies have set to work exploring and developing a range of cookieless solutions.

“It came at a time when consumers were demanding more privacy, and legislation such as GDPR sought to address this demand. In essence, it was the prompt we all needed to realise the value in harnessing and doing more with our first-party data.

“We’ve already progressed so far down this road that I don’t think Google’s latest delay will change the status quo here.

“If anything, it will make tech companies even more determined to decrease their reliance on walled gardens and look towards independent platforms that can yield the same, if not better, results.

“By adopting new technologies – such as AI and machine learning – advertisers and their agencies are already able to optimise targeting and messaging based on real-time consumer behaviours and preferences without the need for cookies.”

Justin Reid TripadvisorJustin Reid, Snr Media Director, Intl Markets (EMEA & APAC), Tripadvisor

“While Google’s decision to delay cookie deprecation may make it feel like it might not happen, we expect it is still coming. Many brands are already future-proofing their advertising strategies with first-party data collaboration as the solution.

“Those savvy enough to get ahead will be even better served when the depreciation of third-party cookies finally arrives.

“However, while the delay is an opportunity to give those behind a chance to catch up, the time to act is now. The future is already here.”

Michael-Lamb-rtb-houseMichael Lamb, Chief Commercial Officer, RTB House

Google’s decision yesterday to delay the phase-out process of third-party cookies is prudent if the company aims to develop a mature, stable solution.

“While the early results from test campaigns are promising, challenges that we had been raising since the early days, such as those related to latency, have become evident.

“We appreciate that Google continues to pay close attention to feedback from all participants in the ecosystem.

“To move forward, the industry needs clarity on the specific steps of the phase-out process, such as the milestones when cookie deprecation will reach specific thresholds. It will allow us to take full advantage of the robust capabilities available in the Privacy Sandbox.”

alvaro_pastor_EXTE-1Alvaro Pastor, CMO, EXTE

“Further delays to Google’s cookie deprecation are making headlines again, but for advertisers and publishers, contextual targeting solutions exist that can provide precision targeting across premium brand-safe media inventory, negating the need for the cookie.

“Contextual tools, combined with advanced socio-demographics, whether predictive or derived from the publisher’s first-party data, will allow brands to advertise against high-quality, relevant content and ensure they are targeting the right audience.

“This will be a significant revenue driver for publishers as the cookie disappears – whenever that may be. Contextual advertising enables publishers to improve their readers’ experience by delivering targeted, non-intrusive ads that are relevant to them – a win for all… except the cookie.”

Kay-Schneider-showheroesKay Schneider, SVP Global Product & Business Development, ShowHeroes

“It’s not surprising that Google has announced it is extending its deadline again for phasing out 100% of third-party cookie tracking on Chrome.

“The open secret in our industry is that Sandbox technologies aren’t up to scratch and may never be. FLoC was only recently abandoned by Google and the current iteration of Sandbox could yet be abandoned as well.

Some in our industry will see this delay as an opportunity to continue with the status quo.

“But, regardless of Google pushing back its deadline, cookie-based advertising still faces an uncertain future because of increasingly robust data privacy regulations in Europe and the United States, and because of growing consumer anger over how brands are using their personal data.

“The smart players in our industry will take advantage of highly effective cookieless tech like contextual/semantic targeting and attention measurement, as well as first-party data solutions, that are all available now.

“Our industry can’t afford to wait for Google to pull a rabbit out of the hat when there are so many viable solutions emerging outside of Google’s walled garden.”

Dr-Jochen-SchlosserJochen Schlosser, Chief Technology Officer, Adform

“Many have anticipated this given the CMA’s updates and the industry’s feedback.

“The question remains how often can you delay? Also, could we simply get rid of the cookie, without the Sandbox in action?

“Uncertainty remains – My advice: leverage benefits of first-party ID setups today. It never hurts to be ready and you can reach incremental users efficiently without third-party cookies.”

Note: This is a live comment post and will be updated with new comments throughout the day.