Google May Postpone Cookie Deprecation (Again)

Digital Marketing

We’ve posted before about previous delays to Google’s plan to phase out third-party cookies. The company had originally scheduled cookie deprecation to happen by the end of 2021. Here we are nearing the end of Q1 2023 and…

Google may delay the deprecation of third-party cookies yet again, but it’s not Google making the announcement this time.

So, will Google postpone cookie deprecation again? We haven’t heard officially from Google either way, but we can still cover top-line questions and implications of this possibility.

  1. What signs point to another delay in Google’s third-party cookie deprecation?
  2. What does this news mean for brands that advertise via Google?
  3. How can brands prepare for a cookieless future?

What signs point to another delay in Google’s third-party cookie deprecation?

A recent study conducted by advertising technology company RTB House suggests that due to the low adoption rate of Google’s First Locally Executed Decision over Groups Experiment, or FLEDGE, Google may need to delay its deprecation of third-party cookies. FLEDGE was a core piece of Google’s Privacy Sandbox, which is a suite of services and products that are meant to address advertisers’ needs in the absence of cookies—a replacement, as it were.

The present problem with FLEDGE is that supply-side platforms (SSPs) have been slow to adopt the new cookieless solution, thus creating an issue of scale for advertisers. While it doesn’t appear to be a long-term problem at this stage, it does call into question Google’s readiness to phase out third-party cookies by the end of 2024. Google has refuted the claim that the deprecation of cookies will need to be postponed again despite having to move the deadline twice before.

What does this news mean for brands that advertise via Google? 

If they haven’t already, brands that advertise via Google will need to prepare for change. The good news is that change has been in the works for several years now.

As a reminder, the move away from third-party cookies primarily stems from mounting concerns over user privacy. It’s also a response to pressure from regulations such as GDPR, CCPA and guidelines from a handful of other U.S. states that have recently been released.

Besides Google, other major players in the advertising and tech space, such as Safari and Firefox, are phasing out third-party cookies, and other ad tech companies have been introducing cookieless solutions for years. We say all of this to emphasize that FLEDGE is only part of the last chapter of the third-party cookie novel that we’ve all been reading for many years.

With respect to the advertising that VJ executes for brands in this context, we have been deploying multiple, cookieless ad-targeting strategies. 

  • Performing audience targeting via The Trade Desk’s Unified ID 2.0, a cookieless identity solution.
  • Leaning more heavily into contextual targeting to reach qualified audiences without cookies, including AI-based contextual targeting that delivers highly relevant placements.
  • Prioritizing zero-party data, e.g., data that a customer intentionally and proactively shares, which offers relevant and permission-based advertising options.

How can brands (continue to) prepare for a cookieless future?

When Google does fully phase out third-party cookies, advertisers will be less able to identify audiences based on their online behavior. Retargeting will also be diminished. We recommend that brands initiate or continue these steps to smoothly transition into the cookieless future. 

  1. Tech Stack Audit: Strengthen your first-party data organization strategy. 
  2. Segmentation: Perform an in-depth analysis of your current customers.
  3. Engagement Strategy: Evaluate your first-party data growth strategy and introduce soft conversions to improve direct engagement with your customers.
  4. Audience Targeting: Test your audience targeting strategies, then test again.
  5. Journey Planning: Devise messaging and tactics for relationship maintenance and indirect conversions.

We are working with several clients on these strategies already, as the work dovetails with our planning and executions. If your brand is just getting started with preparations for entering a new digital advertising ecosystem, or hitting snags along the way, do drop us a line. We look forward to connecting with you!