Google's Privacy Sandbox is ready. Chrome to drop third-party cookies in 2024
Google published an update on its Privacy Sandbox initiative and the fate of third-party cookies in the company's Chrome web browser. The news was published on the German version of Google's main The Keyword blog by Antony Chavez, VP, Privacy Sandbox.
Chavez reveals that Google has finalized its Privacy Sandbox API and that websites may start to integrate it once the API lands in the company's Chrome web browser. Google plans to launch it in Chrome in July 2023.
Developers may start running scaled tests based on live traffic once the API lands in Chrome. Google promises that it won't make "any significant changes to the API interfaces" until third-party cookies are eliminated in 2024.
Google plans to drop third-party cookies support for 1% of Chrome users in the first quarter of 2024. The change allows developers to run real-world tests on scale to "evaluate the readiness and effectiveness of their products without third-party cookies" according to Chavez.
Developers may furthermore configure Chrome in the fourth quarter of 2023 to simulate the removal of third-party cookies in the browser for testing purposes. These changes "enable developers to run tests on a higher volume of cookieless traffic before Q1 2024".
Privacy Sandbox's main aim is to limit user tracking while still allowing advertisers to display personalized advertising to target groups. One of the main differences between cookie-based tracking and Privacy Sandbox is that the latter is group-based.
Third-party cookies allow advertisers to track individual users across the Internet. Tracking is an essential part of the advertising ecosystem.
Another difference between the two systems is that Privacy Sandbox is assigning interests locally. Chrome analyzes the browsing history of the user and links it to certain interests groups. Websites may then use an API to retrieve these information and use it to display personalized advertising to the user.
Chrome users get some control over the groups, as they may add or delete interests in the browser.
Ad retargeting continues to be possible as well. Retargeting is a technique that many users dislike as it may lead to the display of similar types of advertisement on different Internet websites.
Google introduced first bits of Privacy Sandbox code in Chromium in 2020 after it received criticism for First-Party Sets.
Google had to postpone the death of third-party cookies in Chrome several times. The company announced in mid-2022 that it would delay the end to 2024.
Internet users may disable third-party cookies already in their browsers, but most users have these enabled as it is the default of most web browsers. The change will benefit these users, but it will introduce another form of tracking, and this one directly into the Chrome browser.
It remains to be seen if other browser makers will follow Google or block these changes from landing in their browsers. Most browsers are based on Chromium, and Chromium is controlled by Google to a large extent. Firefox and Safari are two main web browsers that are not based on Chromium.
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