Google Delays Third Party Cookie Deprecation: Ad Industry Reaction 

Following the ongoing speculation over whether Google’s third-party cookie deprecation would go ahead as planned in the final quarter of 2024, we’ve arrived at the outcome many of us had been expecting. For the third time now, Google has delayed its set deprecation date.

In an official statement, Google acknowledges some of the issues surrounding the eradication of third-party cookies on Chrome, citing feedback from the industry, developers, and regulators. The statement explains that the UK Competition and Markets Authority, which is keeping a watchful eye on Google’s Privacy Sandbox solution, needs “sufficient time to review all evidence including results from industry tests.” The CMA has requested market participants to provide this evidence by the end of June. 

Issues with Privacy Sandbox have been discussed widely by the industry. Among these are the concerns that Privacy Sandbox self-preferences Google's ad products, and that its algorithms increase the chances of advertisers bidding against themselves. A standard industry accreditation is also lacking, which makes it more difficult to gauge the solution’s adherence to industry quality standards – an industry accreditation would act as a benchmark for data quality, accuracy, and trust, as well as being a prerequisite for many agencies and brands. Privacy Sandbox’s absence of third-party audits – which are crucial for verifying the security, performance, and accuracy of digital transactions – has also been raised as a very valid concern. 

A new timeframe has been set: Google now intends to move ahead with third-party cookie deprecation in early 2025. Although I’m sure we can all agree, this certainly isn’t set in stone. As we fall back into a state of limbo, we explore the ad industry’s reaction to the news. 

An Opportunity for Independent Ad Tech to Stop Letting Google Set the Agenda 

This latest announcement is a perfect opportunity for independent ad tech to stop letting Google set the agenda. They may have pushed pause, again, but the rest of us do not need to do the same. Cookie-less is the future. More effective methods for targeting and measurement already exist, methods that honour user privacy while still delivering robust results for advertisers and publishers. Instead of allowing yet another update on cookie deprecation breed complacency, let us – the independent ad tech sector – seize the initiative to define and direct the future of digital advertising. 

Kasper Sørensen, CTO, Digiseg

Privacy-Conscious Advertising Must be Built on a Combination of Contextual and Behavioural Targeting

Regardless of Google delaying the withdrawal of third party cookies, relying solely on options limited to a single browser falls short of addressing the broader demands of high-scale and widespread advertising environments. Our analysis – with over 500 million monthly active users across our owned and operated properties, and through our own SSP – reveals that nearly 50% of ad requests originate from non-Chrome web browsers. This underscores the necessity for solutions that go beyond any single browser to achieve optimal scale and reach.

Privacy-conscious advertising must be built on a combination of contextual and behavioural targeting. With first-party data utilised – for frequency capping, targeting and measurement – through Seller Defined Audiences and other Universal IDs. While this latest delay means some businesses slow down their search for a solution, it’s essential to use the time to better understand how to strategically blend these alternative options and successfully navigate the future landscape.

Ava Moran, SVP, Azerion

Cookie Deprecation is a Red Herring 

Chrome cookie withdrawal was first mooted in 2019. And Safari’s own cookie switch-off came in 2020. So frankly, between Q4 2024 and H1 2025, what’s another few months between friends? Cookie deprecation itself is a red herring, when you consider the wider landscape – signal loss in general – with data points from the IP address to location, fingerprinting to mobile SDKs all on the road to extinction.

We all knew from industry feedback that Privacy Sandbox wasn’t ready. But could it ever be, really? What single tool will replace all the features of the cookie, when it has come to cover so many – from identity, to targeting to measurement?

I believe the real potential for solutions will be outside of the walled gardens. Solutions that respond to cookie withdrawal AND public opinion. And crucially - solutions that don’t force buyers to completely change the way they work in the process.

Niall Moody, CRO, Nano

Individuals’ Privacy Protection Remains Unknown 

This latest delay was to be expected, there remains too many unknowns in regards to the protection of an individuals privacy, as well as protecting the democracy of advertising and mitigating monopolisation. 

From conversations around the industry it feels very much like business as usual, whereby advertisers, publishers and tech are continuing to build solutions to navigate targeting, measurement and attribution in a world where third party cookies no longer exist.

Fern Potter, SVP Strategy & Partnerships, Multilocal

This Isn’t a Chance to Sit Back and Take Things Slow 

It's important that advertisers don’t see Google’s shifting timeline as a chance to sit back and take things slow. It doesn’t matter when the cookie disappears, the reality is that we’re already heading towards a landscape that, above all else, prioritises consumer privacy. This is nothing new – today’s real-time bidding (RTB) auctions operate in environments that have been without third-party cookies for quite some time. 

The industry doesn’t need a new browser-side auction like PAAPI (the Protected Audience API) to move forward with third-party cookie deprecation. While the CMA’s concerns around the governance of the Privacy Sandbox are valid, robust and scalable solutions are already available to advertisers that enable them to operate independently of Google’s timeline or future-industry decisions.

Wilfried Schobeiri, Chief Technology Officer, Ogury

Google Opened Up a Can of Worms 

With the Privacy Sandbox consultation, Google opened up a can of worms, as many in the industry still expect a targeting solution with similar functionalities and performance to be available. But let’s be clear: principally, Google is trying to solve the user privacy use case, not protecting targeting as we know it and the delay is just part of a process of undoing a system that has been built over more than a decade.

We need to stop thinking in terms of user tracking and invest in owned data. Data ownership extends beyond first-party data to media data, which is the vast ocean of information from multi-channel, multi-asset campaigns. Think impressions, clicks,  conversions and creative elements. If advertisers can learn to treat audience information as pure statistics – for example, how allocating more ad spend on a channel will affect incremental sales – campaigns can remain effective even in the post-cookie era.

Carlo De Matteo, Co-founder and COO, MINT

Even a Fully Developed Privacy Sandbox May Not Entirely Resolve All the Challenges of a Post-Cookie World 

It's important to recognise that even a fully developed Privacy Sandbox might not entirely resolve the challenges posed by a post-third-party cookie advertising world. Therefore, this delay generally grants the industry a crucial chance to refine strategies and bolster infrastructure for the impending cookie-less landscape. It enables more thorough testing of alternative solutions and the exploration of innovative targeting and measurement methods, all while laying the groundwork for long-term consumer trust amidst evolving privacy regulations and browsing behaviours.

Moreover, it's noteworthy that, with a significant portion of current web traffic already unable to support third-party cookies, the impact of their eventual loss may unfold in a more gradual and manageable manner than initially anticipated. 

The future deprecation of third-party cookies presents both challenges and opportunities for our premium publishers. It necessitates a shift towards contextual targeting and a chance to explore the monetising of first-party data at premium rates. Additionally, an observed decline in programmatic CPM where cookies are ineffective underscores the need for robust customer relationships and technical solutions to support direct sales and enhanced customer service.

Britta Heitkamp, Account Manager, goTom 

Google is Struggling to Thread the Needle Between Privacy and Competition Regulation

The reaction from across the industry this time round, I think, shows that this delay was much more of a surprise than last time. Google has, so far, been saying they’ll be maintaining their timelines but the announcement shows how difficult they’re finding it to thread the needle between privacy and competition regulation.

Ultimately the question is, why are we all up in arms? We know that, in the UK, circa 60% of users are not targetable with a cookie in the open web. And we do know that deprecation within Chrome will happen at some point. At Teads in the UK, 81% of our targeted investments we place for advertisers is cookie-free, and we’re seeing similar numbers globally. So rather than wait and let the technological tail wag the dog of marketing strategy, all of us across supply and demand sides should be using cookie-free solutions now.

Jamie Toward, Head of Data, UK & NL, Teads

We Need a Future-Proof Approach That Isn’t Going to Trap Us in a Game of Cat and Mouse with Regulators and Big Tech Providers

With concerns mounting over recent months following trials of Privacy Sandbox, it was only a matter of time before Google’s hand was forced to do something to reassure the industry.

For a while now, the industry has been so focussed on finding reasons why Google should not make the change when it should have been creating and investing in viable alternatives. User privacy should always be a priority, and the market should move towards a future-proof approach that isn’t going to trap us in a game of cat and mouse with regulators and big tech providers. The buy-side could learn from the proactivity displayed by publishers and media owners, who are actively collecting and collating first-party data to build effective data activation and monetisation strategies. It’s a long road ahead, but at least they’re taking strides towards a sturdy post-cookie ecosystem.

Ryan Stewart, Head of Publisher Acquisition (North America), MGID

Adapting to a Privacy-Centric Future is Paramount

Adapting advertising technology for a more privacy-centric future is paramount and is an effort worth taking the time to get right. Google’s new timeline does not change our commitment to creating a vibrant ecosystem around Privacy Sandbox as well as other addressability innovation areas like alternative IDs, contextual signals and commerce media. We are continuing to test and innovate around Privacy Sandbox initiatives so we can best prepare our publishers and media buyers for an inevitable cookieless future.

Kofi Amoako, Regional Vice President, Addressability EMEA, PubMatic

 The Delay Helps the Industry to Continue Testing and Adapting  

Google’s new timeline helps the industry continue to test and adapt. Beyond even cookies, non-addressable inventory will only increase and the industry should act now to prepare for these changes. Today, advertisers should experiment with solutions for both addressable and non-addressable environments, as well as testing in the Privacy Sandbox. 

Alice Beecroft, Senior Director of Global DSP Strategy & Partnerships, Yahoo Advertising

Sandbox Technologies Aren’t Up To Scratch and May Never Be

It’s not surprising that Google has announced it is extending its deadline again for phasing out 100% of third-party cookie tracking on Chrome. The open secret in our industry is that Sandbox technologies aren’t up to scratch and may never be. FLoC was only recently abandoned by Google and the current iteration of Sandbox could yet be abandoned as well.

Some in our industry will see this delay as an opportunity to continue with the status quo. But, regardless of Google pushing back its deadline, cookie-based advertising still faces an uncertain future because of increasingly robust data privacy regulations in Europe and the United States, and because of growing consumer anger over how brands are using their personal data.

The smart players in our industry will take advantage of highly effective cookieless solutions like contextual/semantic targeting and attention measurement, as well as first-party data activations, that are all available now. Our industry can’t afford to wait for Google to pull a rabbit out of the hat when there are so many viable solutions emerging outside of Google’s walled garden.

Kay Schneider, SVP Global Product & Business Development, ShowHeroes

Privacy Sandbox Will Make the Execution of Media Buying Strategies on the Open Web More Complex, Expensive and Less Effective

It's unclear whether the gradual phase-out of cookies will even continue following this latest delay. Market players are left having to choose between maintaining already high levels of investment to adapt without guarantee of return on investment, or pursue other solutions.

As it currently stands, Privacy Sandbox will make the execution of media buying strategies on the open web more complex, even more expensive, and less effective. While Google attempts to fix its offering, marketers should look towards innovative and independent alternatives that can create value for the ecosystem, as well as a fairer and more transparent exchange of value for Internet users.

Grégory Cornuz, Chief Product Officer, Equativ

Privacy Sandbox's Current Functionality has Limitations

The industry is better prepared than the previous time there was a delay to Google’s phasing-out of the third-party cookie. Advances in technology, combined with stronger industry partnerships and evolving campaign strategy are helping build confidence with advertisers, but there is still plenty to be done.

Google's Privacy Sandbox was initially hailed as an alternative to the cookie, however there are limitations within its functionality in its current state. Certainly, further development is required.

Vitaly Pecherskiy, CEO, StackAdapt

This is a Positive Move

This could potentially be the final extension to Chrome's Privacy Sandbox timeline and third-party cookie deprecation. The 1% cookie deprecation started earlier this year was the much-needed wake-up call to the industry to get ready for a privacy-preserving future. It's good to see that Google cooperates and listens to the needs of the industry. These privacy APIs have been published for several years already, but only recently the pressure grew to the point where much-needed industry feedback and feature requests are raised.

Noteworthy to say, the Android Privacy Sandbox timeline (in-app) remained unchanged. I bet Google will be on top of things for both Chrome and Android, considering the progress they've made so far. It's encouraging to see how industry feedback is addressed and is making a real impact on Google's decisions. I see this as a positive move.

Gaylord Zach, Head of Mobile Product, Verve Group