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May 9, 2024

Google Extends Third-Party Cookie Deprecation Timeline Into 2025

Once again, Google has pushed back its timeline for deprecating third-party cookie support in Chrome. 

The search giant now intends to continue deprecating third-party cookie support in early 2025, pending an agreement with a UK regulatory body, the company said in its latest update.

Here’s what you need to know about Google’s most recent announcement about third-party cookies in Chrome and what it means for digital marketers preparing for a cookie-less future.

The Latest on Third-Party Cookie Deprecation in Chrome

Since originally setting a January 2020 deadline to deprecate third-party cookie support in Chrome, Google has now pushed the deadline back for a third time.

The news is a bit surprising, as the deprecation effort is already underway for 1% of Chrome users as of January 2024. However, now it appears Google is pausing the deprecation for the remainder of the year. 

Most recently, Google had set a Q3 2024 deadline to finish deprecating support for third-party cookies. 

However, ahead of that deadline, questions over regulatory compliance and Google’s third-party cookie alternatives—the Privacy Sandbox—foreshadowed the delay. 

Why the Change?

Chrome certainly won’t be the first browser to eliminate support for third-party cookies, but because of Google’s enormous market share, this will be an enormous change. 

The loss of valuable user data is the most immediate concern for most marketers since it’s key to targeted advertising and remarketing. 

There are also competition issues raised by stakeholders and regulators, which Google intends to address before continuing with full deprecation, according to Google’s Q1 2024 Privacy Sandbox Progress Report to the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). 

Specifically, Google notes, “The CMA has also shared a concern that the [Protected Audience] API creates an advantage for Google, in particular regarding the use of first-party data, and would not be compatible with potential antitrust remedies.” 

For its part, Google “has committed to design and implement the Privacy Sandbox proposals in a way that does not distort competition by self-preferencing Google’s own business, and to take into account impact on competition in digital advertising and on publishers and advertisers, regardless of their size,” the company said.

That’s on top of concerns the Privacy Sandbox may not be ready for full implementation in 2024—a pivotal question, considering that Privacy Sandbox APIs are intended to fill the measurement void left by third-party cookie deprecation. 

Google is still working with the CMA to meet the necessary requirements. Once the relevant concerns are resolved and Google has a thumbs-up from regulators, we can expect the cookie removal process to resume. 

What Google’s Latest Announcement Means for Digital Marketers

Fortunately, this isn’t one of those surprises that puts digital marketers in a bind since Google is pushing back a change most marketers weren’t looking forward to in the first place. 

Besides, Google has been doing plenty to raise awareness regarding the deprecation of third-party cookie support in Chrome. Even if this is the first you’re hearing about the change, you now have essentially another year to prepare.

However, this doesn’t mean you have time to waste. When Chrome blocks third-party cookies, you’ll lose crucial user data if you’re caught unprepared. 

Solutions for Collecting User Data While Preserving User Privacy

So, what can you do to stay ahead of the curve and minimize disruptions to your digital marketing campaigns once third-party cookies leave Chrome for good?

Review these options with your team and start exploring them ASAP to ensure you’re prepared.

First-Party Cookies

First-party cookies, which don’t track activity across websites, will still be supported in Chrome, which means your team will still be able to collect data about how users interact with your site.

On the one hand, first-party cookies do provide some valuable data for marketers. But on the other hand, their relatively limited functionality means their data isn’t as valuable as the data collected by third-party cookies.

Zero-Party Data

In addition to first-party cookies, zero-party data collection is an alternative marketers can use to learn about their users. Zero-party data is collected through surveys, polls, quizzes, or other similar forms that site visitors are encouraged to submit.

Some sites, such as news publishers, use zero-party data collection in place of a paywall. Of course, this raises an important question: Are your users answering truthfully, accurately, and completely? Or are they just trying to get past the paywall as quickly as possible?

Google’s Privacy Sandbox

While zero-party data and first-party cookies will remain, Google’s Privacy Sandbox initiative aims to essentially replace the functionality of third-party cookies in a privacy-preserving manner. 

APIs within the Privacy Sandbox are intended to deliver the valuable data marketers rely on without compromising user privacy. 

However, for many, these APIs raise the same question as first-party cookies: If they’re still allowed, how effective can they really be? That, of course, remains to be seen.

The Privacy Sandbox APIs are “available for 100% of Chrome traffic and ready for scaled use to support key business use cases,” Google said in its Q1 report to the CMA. 

The APIs reached general availability within Chrome in September 2023, but there’s clearly a significant amount of skepticism remaining throughout the ecosystem.

Navigate the New, More Private Web with VELOX Media

The impending loss of vital data from third-party cookies is worrying digital marketing teams worldwide. But with a team of experts by your side, you can move forward with confidence as the web becomes more focused on user privacy and security. 

As a Google Premier Partner, VELOX is an ROI-focused digital marketing agency that customizes strategies to deliver exponential growth. We fuse leading-edge research with the latest technology and proven techniques to consistently exceed client expectations.

Contact us today to see how we can future-proof your organization’s digital marketing strategy.

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Want to learn more about how we can help your brand grow and increase revenue?

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