Google to Finally Kill Third-Party Cookies in 2024, Four Years After Apple

Google to Finally Abandon Third-Party Cookies in 2024, Four Years After Apple's Move
Google to Finally Abandon Third-Party Cookies in 2024, Four Years After Apple’s Move (Image: Flickr/osde8info)

The Long-Awaited Demise of Third-Party Cookies

Google has finally unveiled its plans to put an end to third-party cookies, marking a pivotal shift in online advertising. While Firefox and Safari disabled third-party cookies almost four years ago, Google, a major player in the advertising realm, has been gradually phasing out this form of user tracking. Ad companies heavily rely on third-party cookies to monitor user activity across the web, enabling them to deliver targeted advertisements. The alternative introduced by Google is the “Privacy Sandbox,” a user-tracking ad system that has now been launched in Chrome, paving the way for the retirement of the traditional ad tracking method. The anticipated timeline for bidding farewell to third-party cookies is set for the second half of 2024.

Google’s “Tracking Protection” Rollout Timeline

Dubbed “Tracking Protection,” Google’s blog post outlines the rollout plan, commencing with initial tests scheduled for January 4. During this phase, 1 percent of Chrome users will experience the new feature. By the latter half of 2024, the rollout aims to encompass all desktop Chrome and Android users. Notably, Chrome on iOS, being a reskinned version of Safari, is exempt from this update. Alongside this change, Chrome will introduce new UI elements. If a website encounters issues without third-party cookies and Chrome detects the problem, users will receive a prompt to temporarily re-enable these cookies for that specific site.

Regulatory Scrutiny and Google’s Responsible Approach

Despite the seemingly smooth transition, Google acknowledges that the rollout is contingent on addressing any lingering competition concerns raised by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority. This move by Chrome’s Privacy Sandbox marks the convergence of the world’s most popular browser, Google Chrome, with the largest advertising platform on the web, Google Ads. The decision to phase out alternative tracking methods employed by competing ad companies has attracted regulatory scrutiny, given the significance of this integration.

Google defends its timing, presenting the move as a “responsible approach” to gradually eliminating third-party cookies. Critics argue that this responsibility is primarily directed towards Google’s shareholders, as disabling tracking cookies was once perceived as a threat to Google’s business model. Leveraging its dominant position as the leading browser vendor globally, Google managed to postpone the demise of tracking cookies long enough to develop and launch an alternative tracking system earlier this year. With the ad business secure, Google now deems it acceptable to phase out traditional cookies, and the transition appears to be proceeding according to plan.

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Source(s): Ars Technica

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