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Responding to CMA Concerns, Google Halts Cookie Deprecation in Chrome Browser

Google’s announcement that it will delay the complete deprecation of third-party cookies in its Chrome browser came as no surprise.


Google’s announcement that it will delay the complete deprecation of third-party cookies in its Chrome browser came as no surprise. After multiple delays, the company finally began its initial round of third-party cookies on January 4, which affected 1% of its user base, or about 30 million users.

In some way  the delay was inevitable. Over the past few months the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has expressed its unease with various aspects of Privacy Sandbox, Google’s multi pronged initiative for campaign targeting, measurement and attribution in cookie-free world.

The CMA, concerned that Privacy Sandbox would stifle competition, had been working with Google to address concerns, but as of April, the regulator appeared unsatisfied. After CMA released its April report, Google announced the delay, stating:

“We recognize that there are ongoing challenges related to reconciling divergent feedback from the industry, regulators and developers, and will continue to engage closely with the entire ecosystem. It's also critical that the CMA has sufficient time to review all evidence including results from industry tests, which the CMA has asked market participants to provide by the end of June. Given both of these significant considerations, we will not complete third-party cookie deprecation during the second half of Q4.”

But the CMA’s concerns were not Google’s only woes. In March, the IAB Tech Lab issued a scathing review of Privacy Sandbox, warning it will devastate programmatic advertising while offering no viable alternative.  

Where this Leaves the Industry

The DDH family of brands is deeply committed to privacy, and we believe that developing solutions that respect privacy and deliver results will elevate the entire industry. 

There are a number of concerns that should be addressed prior to phasing out third-party cookie deprecation. For instance, The Trade Desk’s Stu Colman told the Press Gazette that Topics API could lead to a 30% decline in publisher revenue. The goal behind Topics is to allow the Chrome browser, not the publisher, to segment users into audience segments. Topics will look at the five top categories users browse in the previous week, and group them into interests for targeting purposes. What’s more, with just 469 categories Topics API doesn’t allow for as much diversity in targeting as is possible when publishers segment their users.

If you’re a small, niche or diverse-owned publisher, Topics API will likely mean less inclusion into Topics API, which means fewer ads placed on your site. There have also been issues raised over the latency of Privacy Sandbox’s Protected Audience API (PAAPI), which according to testing from several sources decreases viewability and yield.

A Welcome Reprieve: Let’s Work Together

The recently announced delay gives the digital advertising community a welcome reprieve, but the industry should use that time wisely to develop alternatives that ensure a healthy ecosystem, one in which consumers can trust the ads they see, advertisers get tangible benefits from their ad spend, and publishers receive fair compensation for their inventory so they they may continue to serve the public.

We believe that value exchanges are the cornerstone of a healthy ecosystem. We’ve seen first hand how game consumers are to participate in the digital advertising ecosystem when the ads they see offer a compelling value, such as providing information of interest. Media tech providers must do their part by helping advertisers identify, reach and engage the right consumers, including sites owned by publishers that represent the complete tapestry of America.

DDH is in a unique position to lead the transformation of the digital advertising space because we see the sector from all angles. Our brands focus on helping the buy-side and sell-side, and our teams are compensated based on results. We will continue to work with all our publishers, media agencies and advertising clients to develop value-focused solutions that meet everyone’s needs.

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