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Google’s Update on Third-Party Cookies

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1st August 2023 in

With Universal Analytics sunsetting, GA4 (Google Analytics 4) soaking up attention and Generative AI disrupting the tools we hold dear, you’d be forgiven for forgetting about one of the most important privacy changes to happen to Australian marketers in recent history. In May this year, Google announced the rollout of Privacy Sandbox APIs to counter the effect that the death of third-party cookies will have on marketing campaigns and audience targeting.

What is the Privacy Sandbox?

The Privacy Sandbox aims to achieve two primary goals:
1. Protecting users’ privacy online.
2. Providing businesses and developers with effective digital tools.

This involves phasing out third-party cookies and reducing cross-site and cross-app tracking, while ensuring that online content and services remain freely accessible to all users.

The Privacy Sandbox APIs redefine the role of web browsers, allowing them to locally safeguard users’ personally identifiable information as they browse the web.

As Chrome 115 is released, relevance and measurement APIs will be gradually enabled. These will strengthen cross-site privacy boundaries, show relevant content and ads, and measure digital ads.
Relevance and measurement APIs include:

Topics: An interest-based advertising solution to circumvent the need for third-party cookies and cross-site user tracking.
Protected audience: Enables ad selection for remarketing and custom audience purposes, designed to prevent third-party entities from monitoring user browsing activities across websites.
Attribution reporting: A reporting tool that establishes the connection between campaign interactions—be it clicks or views—and actual conversions.
Private aggregation: Generates aggregated summary reports while preserving user privacy through the introduction of noise in cross-site data, sustaining crucial insights.
Shared storage: Allows sites to store unorganised cross-site data while preventing data leaks and prioritising data confidentiality.
Fenced frames: Embeds content securely onto web pages.

What to expect

Google promises APIs will be available to 99% of browsers within the next four weeks. Following that, you can expect third-party cookies to co-exist with the Privacy Sandbox until early 2024 when Google’s cookie deprecation begins in earnest. A small percentage of Chrome users will lose access to third-party cookies initially, with remaining users losing access over the course of 2024.

Google will also release a user interface to view, manage and analyse the data obtained from the Privacy Sandbox, which should make marketers lives easier as they grapple with their changing dataset.

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