Cookie Apocalypse: Google to begin the much talked about third-party cookie phaseout for 1% Chrome Users today

After nearly three decades of allowing advertisers to deliver personalised content and targeted ads basis third-party cookies that allow tracking users across different websites, and extending the deprecation date of the same for quite some time now, Google is now phasing out its third-party cookies for 1% Chrome users across the globe

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Cookie Apocalypse: Google to begin the much talked about third-party cookie phaseout for 1% Chrome Users today

As of today, i.e.- January 4, 2024, Google, one of the tech industry's giants which currently dominates the internet game with 64.7% market share as per GlobalStats statcounter, has officially begun the gradual phasing out of third-party cookies starting by disabling the same for 1% of users globally to facilitate testing.

But with that being said, the phaseout, even though gradual and phased, would be completed by the second half of this year, presumably Q3 2024.

In lieu of the same, Anthony Chavez, VP, Privacy Sandbox, in a blogpost, mentioned, “On January 4, we'll begin testing Tracking Protection, a new feature that limits cross-site tracking by restricting website access to third-party cookies by default. We'll roll this out to 1% of Chrome users globally, a key milestone in our Privacy Sandbox initiative to phase out third-party cookies for everyone in the second half of 2024, subject to addressing any remaining competition concerns from the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority.”

He added, “We’ve built new tools for sites that support key use cases, and provided time for developers to make the transition. And as we introduce Tracking Protection, we’re starting with a small percentage of Chrome users so developers can test their readiness for a web without third-party cookies.”

Furthermore, he also elaborated that the participants for Tracking Protection feature would be selected randomly and notified upon opening Chrome on desktop or android. Once selected, the third party cookies for the user would be restricted by default which will result in limited website tracking.

“If a site doesn’t work without third-party cookies and Chrome notices you’re having issues — like if you refresh a page multiple times — we’ll prompt you with an option to temporarily re-enable third-party cookies for that website from the eye icon on the right side of your address bar,” Chavez pointed out.

For what its worth, this move of Google is aimed to reduce cross-site tracking while still enabling the functionality that keeps online content and services freely accessible to all.

“Deprecating and removing third-party cookies encapsulates the challenge, as they enable critical functionality across sign-in, fraud protection, advertising, and generally the ability to embed rich, third-party content in websites—but at the same time they're also the key enablers of cross-site tracking,” reads a Google blogpost for Developers.

Not to forget, earlier on, when Google announced its plans for third-party cookie phaseout in January 2020, the news received mixed reactions from advertisers and marketers who expressed concerns about the potential impact on ad targeting and measurement. Hence, to ensure what is called a seamless transition, the company had decided to extend the phaseout plan from the planned two years, by a year and finally began acting on the same today.

Notably, it was in 2019 that the tech giant introduced the Privacy Sandbox, an open-source initiative aimed at developing privacy-preserving alternatives to third-party cookies, the goal behind which was to strike a balance between user privacy and the needs of advertisers.

Much being said, when spoke to various ad agency professionals, it was found out that all the major agencies, being strategic partners to brands, have aided brands in building their first party data to ensure that marketers feel at ease when the cookie phaseout begins.

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