Why the Chrome Privacy Sandbox APIs won’t cut it

January 19, 2024

We all have a fair amount of fatigue around third party cookies dying. But after delaying the deprecation of third-party cookies in Chrome multiple times, Google is sticking with its 2024 deadline…. At least for now.

Google has announced that it will be making the targeting and measurement APIs in its Chrome Privacy Sandbox available to all users starting in July. This move aims to provide developers with ample time for scaled testing before the eventual phaseout of third-party cookies, which is scheduled to commence next year.

As part of this initiative, developers will gain access to a mechanism that simulates third-party-cookie-free traffic, allowing them to conduct thorough testing. This marks a significant step towards the gradual demise of the third-party cookie.

In the first quarter of 2024, Chrome plans to deprecate cookies for 1% of randomly selected Chrome users, gradually expanding the deprecation to a larger user base throughout the year. This carefully planned approach ensures a smooth transition towards a more privacy-centric browsing experience.

For those keeping track, the APIs include:

  • Topics, such as interest-based advertising sans third-party cookies.
  • Protected Audience, which is the rebranded FLEDGE.
  • Shared Storage and Private Aggregation for securely sharing cross-site data and generating reports.
  • Fenced Frames for embedding content onto a page without data sharing.
  • Attribution Reporting.

What’s wrong here?

Firstly. this is a Chrome only solution and, in most markets, Chrome is only a part of the traffic that you are seeing. SimilarWeb and StatCounter both report similar browser market share of:

  • Global - 63% Chrome / 20% Safari / 5% Edge
  • US – 48% Chrome / 38% Safari / 8% Edge
  • Australia – 49% Chrome / 38% Safari / 7% Edge

You’re leaving approximately half of your visibility on the table and as we have seen with several of our clients, Chrome traffic is not a true representative of the other browsers traffic – especially Safari mobile traffic. Safari users act and behave very differently with your brand than mobile Chrome users.  

Secondly, this is an ID that you do not own and certainly not something that you pass into your internal systems. You can’t capture and store this anonymous ID and pass it into your Customer Data Platform (CDP) or data lake for other analysis

Thirdly, as you don’t own it and can’t store it you certainly cannot activate on it outside the Google environment.  

We are seeing strong uptake in brands taking control of persistent cross browser first party identifiers and using them in second party data exchanges as well as into leading publishers to help formulate deeper data driven relationships.  

The output of this is better performing campaigns that deliver results for the advertiser, increases performance on the publisher’s ad servers and delivers true attribution across the campaigns.  

In short, for the advertiser, they gain greater performance for their spend and clarity on the performance and ROI of the campaigns. For the publisher, they deliver better results and more spend, as dollars tend to follow performance.  

Summing it up...

Google’s Privacy Sandbox is a Google only solution, and while it may fix some of the issues you are facing today it certainly won't fix everything, excluding around 50% of your traffic.  

Third party cookies are being deprecated and every medium to large business needs to look for a solution to this issue; a solution that provides visibility across all browsers and allows you to own and activate on your own terms.  

Other links to read -  

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