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1% of Chrome users will have third-party cookies disabled in Q1 2024

Google’s Privacy Sandbox lets users manage their interests and form cohorts based on browsing behaviors to replace third-party cookies. After years of debate and testing, the online advertising industry is ready to shift. Today, Google stated it will transfer 1% of Chrome users to the Privacy Sandbox and disable third-party cookies in early 2024. Google will deprecate third-party cookies in 2024.

With the July Chrome 115 release, Google is making Privacy Sandbox’s relevance and measurement APIs available to all Chrome users, making it easy for developers to test them with live traffic. Google won’t update the API after this release.

Deprecating third-party cookies for 1% of Chrome users may seem minor, but Google’s Victor Wong, who leads product for private advertising technology within Privacy Sandbox, told me it will help developers assess their real-world readiness for the larger changes coming in late 2024. Developers can mimic third-party cookie deprecation preparation by shifting a customizable percentage of their consumers to Privacy Sandbox in Q4 2023.

The CMA advised on this approach. “We consulted with them and felt this was the best way to jointly test the solution with the industry,” Wong said. We simplify testing in Q4 2023. Q1 [2024], we deprecate for 1%, forcing everyone in the industry to actually start trying and testing.”

Most adtech developers can begin scaling testing with Chrome 115. Privacy Sandbox features like Protected Audience, Attribution Reporting, and the Topics API will lock in.

Chrome users can enable privacy sandbox trials today. Since Chrome 101 beta, the APIs have been tested. However, scaling API testing is different.

Since just a percentage of users have sandboxes, many have requested scaled availability. Testing is limited there. “But we’re seeing a lot of interest in scaling that up,” Wong said. He added that Google has no intermediate steps planned for 2023 to expand this amount above 1%. Google intends to deprecate from 1% to 100% without milestones (but there will be a ramp-up).

Google delayed phasing out tracking cookies twice, first in 2021 and again in 2022.

In the history of the web, this project is huge. We’re carefully considering developers, regulators, policymakers, and advertisers’ input. Wong said several partners requested additional time to test and adjust. However, as these deadlines near, the business is seeing several ecosystem players move swiftly. He believes some partners are ready to switch today.

Privacy Sandbox is contentious, as other browser vendors have various privacy policies. Google has agreed to a set of standards to ensure that its Privacy Sandbox implementation does not provide it with an edge over its competitors, with the CMA closely monitoring the endeavor. The effects on the web advertising economy are unclear since none of the competitors appear interested in Privacy Sandbox.

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