Originally posted on Corvidae, 25th May 2023
Google’s deprecation of third-party cookies has been dangling over us marketers for a good few years now.
The news first came around back in 2019, when they announced a long-term roadmap to create more private ways to track web users.
In 2020, Google then committed to a 2022 deadline for the change. This was then delayed to the second half of 2023, in June 2022.
And in July 2022, Google announced it was delaying the deprecation again, with third-party cookies set to be gone from its Chrome browser by Q3 2024. And its proposed solutions available to begin using from Q3 2023.
With so many delays, are we really supposed to believe that Google will finally flick the switch?
If you ask me, the answer is a resounding yes. And for many reasons.
Here is why I believe that Google will stick to its timeline this time.
1. Google has watered down its available solutions
Google’s previous deadlines were set when there was still an active dialogue surrounding the possible solutions that could be offered.
Back then, there were around 6 or 7 likely replacements for third-party cookies in discussion. Including FLoC, which was quickly removed from its Privacy Sandbox due to a high level of criticism within the industry.
Following increased privacy concerns about Google’s proposed solutions, these were watered down to provide us with the two options we now have left:
- Topics for prospecting
- FLEDGE for remarketing
Both Topics and FLEDGE require opt-ins to provide adequate privacy protection. And it is unlikely that they can be watered down any further without making them unusable for marketers.
With nothing more to be done, Google can’t truthfully delay their cookie deprecation again on the basis of further developing its solutions.
This is good as we are going to get from them.
Related: What is Google Topics?
2. Privacy concerns will likely always exist for Google
In January, the international body that works to guide the development of web standards, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), shared concerns about Google’s Topics API.
In its assessment of Topics, W3C’s Technical Architecture Group (TAG) argued:
“The Topics API as proposed puts the browser in a position of sharing information about the user, derived from their browsing history, with any site that can call the API. This is done in such a way that the user has no fine-grained control over what is revealed, and in what context, or to which parties.
It also seems likely that a user would struggle to understand what is even happening; data is gathered and sent behind the scenes, quite opaquely. This goes against the principle of enhancing the user’s control, and we believe is not appropriate behaviour for any software purporting to be an agent of a web user.”
Despite concerns, the UK’s privacy watchdog — the ICO (the Information Commission’s Office) — has remained silent on the matter, implicitly encouraging Google to proceed with Topics.
Indeed, Google released a case study on April 18th supporting their position that their proposed solutions are already at a stage where they can be rolled out — concerns or not.
Google is always going to get hit about privacy, regardless of the technology solution.
So, further delaying the deprecation of third-party cookies won’t add anything. It will only serve competitors who are working to provide a more robust solution (like Corvidae).
3. Delaying prevents focus on important matters
Google has faced increasing regulatory pressure about GDPR compliance within its analytics platforms. It has also come under fire for the decision to remove features from GA4, while it is still being developed.
With the deadline to move to GA4 to avoid data gaps in current tracking, and its data protection issues — Austria, France Italy, and Denmark have all declared Google Analytics illegal from a GDPR perspective following a ruling from the EU — getting rid of third-party cookies this year allows Google to move forwards on these more meaningful areas.
And work to provide marketers with an analytics platform that is fit for purpose.
If you want to know more about how to ensure your marketing analytics are compliant, we have a handy guide you can download.
Free download: A Quick Guide to Compliant Marketing Analytics
What’s next for marketers?
So, if my predictions stand true, we are set to say goodbye to third-party cookies forever later this year.
I’ve written quite a few articles on the topic over the years, sharing my tips for success in a cookieless future. But my number one piece of advice for you, if you haven’t already, start exploring alternatives now.
If we’ve seen anything from these delays, it’s that Google isn’t set to provide us with any viable cookieless solutions. But there are some out there.
Corvidae uses patented AI technology to remove any reliance on cookies — first- and third-party. Providing marketers with truly accurate measurement of their activity — and user paths that are twice as long as Google Analytics!
If you’d like to know more about the impact the removal of cookies will have on your marketing measurement, download our eBook below. Or, to discover more about Corvidae’s cookieless attribution, request a demo here.