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Google Delays the Demise of Third-Party Cookies: A Reprieve for E-commerce or a Privacy Nightmare?

Third-party cookie death is postponed! Is this a win for e-retailers or a privacy landmine? Dive in to understand the implications.
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Google has once again postponed the end of third-party cookies. Supposed to be replaced in 2022, then in 2024, these third-party cookies, deposited by a third-party domain on the visited site, which track the visitor on several sites and provide key elements for online and targeted advertising, will not be deleted by Google from its Chrome browser before 2025. At issue are the requirements of the British Competition Authority (CMA), which is concerned about the impact of this decision on the digital marketing sector and on Google's competitors in the field.


End of third-party cookies: what are the blocking elements?

It was through a brief press release that Google announced on Tuesday, April 23, 2024, that the deletion of third-party cookies on Chrome will not take place this year but rather at the beginning of 2025. This will require approval from the Competition and Markets. Authority (CMA) and the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), responsible for checking that the firm's solutions do not give it a certain competitive advantage. The British Competition and Markets Authority is in fact studying the alternative proposed by Google, the Privacy Sandbox, which aims to replace third-party cookies while preserving user confidentiality and supporting advertising needs.

Assuming we reach an agreement, we plan to phase out third-party cookies starting early next year, Google said.

“We recognize that there are ongoing challenges in reconciling divergent feedback from industry, regulators, and developers, and we will continue to work closely with the entire ecosystem,” Google said in its statement. . This requires the tech giant to provide sufficient evidence demonstrating that the Privacy Sandbox does not, in fact, impose itself on competing alternatives. For this, “it is essential that the CMA has sufficient time to consider all the evidence, including the results of industry tests, which it has asked market participants to provide by the end of June” 2024, adds Google. Hence the postponement of the deletion of third-party cookies to 2025.

An impossible schedule for Google to keep

The timing of this announcement appears to confirm Google's continued difficulties facing the CMA and the ICO. It comes on the eve of the publication by the CMA of its monitoring report. Every three months, it makes public a document evaluating Google's progress in respecting its commitments to resolve the competition problems raised by the end of third-party cookies. In the last report published in February, there were still many points to be resolved. Google therefore took the lead in the face of a schedule that had become untenable.

Tests to assess the effectiveness of the Privacy Sandbox are underway but will not be completed before the end of the first half of 2024. The CMA then has up to 120 days to make its decision, postponing the removal of third-party cookies until later, at the end of the year 2024. But the end-of-year holiday period is really not the most conducive to this major upheaval because it is particularly busy for the advertising industry, therefore pushing it back to 2025. If this deadline leaves more time for professionals to prepare, this new postponement also exasperates most of the actors, who finally want the change to occur in order to be able to test the new solutions and adjust accordingly.

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