What is the effect of the Google announcement to end third-party cookies by 2023?
The “gods of the web” at Google seem to have heard the cries of marketers who are panicked over the announced end of support for third-party cookies on Chrome by January 2022. The giant has announced it will push back the deployment of its Sandbox project to 2023.
Reasons for its decision are generally of a technical and logistical nature, but they are also evidence of compassion towards web editors and ad tech companies who will be hugely affected by this enormous change. In his press release, Vinay Goel, Privacy Engineering Director at Chrome, explained his decision thusly:
“…we need to move at a responsible pace. This will allow sufficient time for public discussion on the right solutions, continued engagement with regulators, and for publishers and the advertising industry to migrate their services. This is important to avoid jeopardizing the business models of many web publishers which support freely available content.”
Another highly likely factor is the investigation launched by the United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which is currently determining whether Chrome’s blocking of third-party cookies could be considered unfair competition. In accordance with an agreement reached with Google, the CMA will supervise the coming transition to ensure that ethical practices are put in place. It should also be noted that the U.S. Department of Justice and the EU’s competition commission are also keeping a close eye on the issue. Which means that Google has no other option but to play by their rules.
Irrespective of the main reason behind this latest announcement, this is encouraging news for marketers who obviously are heavily dependent on third-party cookies to deploy and measure their tactics online amongst their target audiences.
Should marketers put their “post–cookie apocalypse” plans on hold?
Ideally, no. On the contrary, gaining a bit more time should motivate you to keep pursuing your “post–cookie apocalypse” marketing road map. If Google is offering a longer transition period, it’s because the U.S. company has noticed the seriousness of the changes brought by the end of third-party cookies as well as the sizable management challenge industry players are confronted with, a veritable cyclone that won’t be at all easy to navigate.
Basically, the announced change will require a considerable adaptation on the part of editors, marketers and engineers of intermediary ad tech platforms. As a result, getting an additional year of preparation to avoid an overly chaotic transition seems like less of a luxury and more of a necessity.
As an example, let’s take a look at a Facebook migration to the Conversions API. Three important levels of changes need to be considered, also known as the three Ps of IT:
- Management of technical implementation (platform): The time and technical issues related to changing from measurement by pixel to measurement by API faced by the developers and integrators your team depends on must be taken into consideration.
- Management of operationalization (process): Next, think about how much adaptation time this new measurement process will require once implemented. You should also create a plan for how you will handle issues related to reconciling previous pixel-based reports with those created by API.
- Management of marketer training (people): Once the API is implemented and operationalization processes have been defined, your team members will need to be trained to understand and set up these new processes and ways of working as soon as possible. This will take time.
In the above example, we’re only dealing with the Facebook Conversions API. Now imagine going through the same process for adapting to Google’s FLoC and FLEDGE model, all while getting used to the new Google Analytics 4 interface. Add to this the innumerable meetings your team will need to attend with each of your digital marketing suppliers and advertising editors, since they will all want to meet with you to explain how they are adapting their specific technological solution to a world without third-party cookies.
Starting to look like a lot of work, isn’t it?
So instead of seeing Google’s announced push-back to 2023 as a reason for taking a break from your plans on mitigating the coming cookie apocalypse, think of it as an opportunity to get some extra time to prepare for the inevitable.
This way, you’ll benefit from being one step ahead. Google has pushed back the date to support everyone’s adaptation to a major change. Don’t waste precious time procrastinating in the coming year. There’s a lot of work ahead—for everyone!