Google delays phase out of tracking cookies by nearly 2 years

The Alphabet Inc company announced yesterday that Google’s Chrome web browser will not fully block tracking cookies until late 2023. The move to delay blocking third party cookies by almost two years comes as a response to the antitrust concerns from competitors and regulators.

According to Reuters, Google had wanted to bar reams of ad-personalisation companies from gathering users’ browsing interests through cookies from January 2022. However, rivals have accused the world’s biggest online ads seller by revenue of using improved privacy as a pretence to gain greater market share.

“We need to move at a responsible pace, allowing sufficient time for public discussion on the right solutions and for publishers and the advertising industry to migrate their services,” Vinay Goel, privacy engineering director for Chrome wrote in a blog post.

Third party cookies have been trending significantly in 2021 due to Apple’s decision to ban the cross-website tracker and Google’s prior announcement that it will phase it out by 2022. 

Third-party cookies offer valuable data for advertisers to use when strategising their targeted ads, measuring its effectiveness and stopping fraud. However, with the increase in discussion surrounding user privacy, the way third party cookies track an individual’s personal browsing also raised privacy concerns, leading to Google’s announcement. 

As it announced the decision to delay the move, Google has also said that it is working with the ad industry on technologies that could replace the tracking capabilities of cookies while better protecting online privacy.

While critics have questioned the effectiveness of alternatives, they also added that Google can only benefit from the elimination of third-party cookies because it can continue collecting similar data through YouTube, search and its other popular systems.

President of the Malaysia Digital Association (MDA), Nicholas Sagau, says he believes Google’s decision to delay blocking tracking cookies will help the industry because based on the engagement with local industry players, many are still not ready to face the scale impact of a cookie-less world on their products and businesses.

“There needs to be a lot more education and understanding about its impact and most importantly what other solutions are available,” Nicholas told MARKETING Magazine. “Then there is the question of investment and implementation which can take time especially in setting up collecting and managing own data/cookies.”

Nicholas added that based on his experience, this process can take at least 3 to 6 months and hence why the announcement to delay the move is good news. “I encourage everyone to start planning for their respective business especially those who have high depends on third party cookie,” Nicholas said.

MDA’s first virtual ‘Digital Wednesday Lite’ for 2021, hosted in March, discussed the impact a cookie-less world will have on marketers.

Read the full recap of the conversation on the cookie apocalypse here.