What You Need to Know


One of the most critical topics of 2024—how Google Chrome plans to rewrite digital advertising in the browser with Privacy Sandbox proposals and how companies adopt the technology, or don’t—is finally ramping up.

On Jan. 4, Google is releasing a new browser feature called Tracking Protection, which, when activated, will cut off a site’s access to third-party cookies. Tracking Protection will be activated for 1% of a randomly selected group of Chrome users globally, marking the year’s first notable step toward third-party cookie deprecation.

Those who are part of the test will see the option to “Browse with more privacy” when they open Chrome on desktop or Android. The rollout beyond the 1% will happen gradually in the second half of the year. If a site in the test can’t function, Chrome will surface the option to disable Tracking Protection and revert to using third-party cookies.

Naturally, there are a lot of unknowns, especially since full deprecation by the end of the year will depend on these tests and whether the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority agrees. Here’s what we know.

A sense of urgency hampered by lack of resource

While adoption has been very slow on the buy-side, there has been a step change in urgency.

Paul Bannister is chief strategy officer at publisher management platform Raptive, which has been running the Protected Audience API (renamed from FLEDGE in April) in ad auctions since September, when Google made Privacy Sandbox application-programming interfaces publicly available. He said that since the beginning of December, more marketers have been keen to start testing over the next three months.

But there is a gulf between the desire to test and the resources available to invest in new product development in order to execute a full shift to privacy-preserving technologies.

“There are those who are still in denial and, unfortunately, I don’t think 2024 is going to be an easy year for them,” said Ana Milicevic, co-founder at consultancy Sparrow Advisers.

As with tech adoption before it, it’s a chicken-and-egg situation. Tech companies need demand before building the tech, and the business imperative to shift buying away from cookies has been lacking, but Chrome’s deadline finally solidifies that, she added.

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