(Good) news for marketers: Google extends third-party cookies until 2024

Marketers swear by third-party cookies, yet the privacy community has issued a warning. Google is therefore working on a successor to this technology, optimized in terms of data protection regulations. However, the deadline for the end of third-party cookies has now been postponed.

Third-party cookies are used for online tracking.
Image: © Rutmer / Adobe Stock

Why change the current system?

For years, Google has been working on building the optimal solution to replace third-party cookies. This is mainly due to the concerns surrounding data protection laws. On the one hand, the online tracking options of third-party cookies improve the performance of Internet ads: more relevant and therefore more interesting advertisements can be shown while browsing. On the other hand, there are concerns regarding data protection laws relating to the collection and management of information required. That is why third-party cookies have fallen into disrepute among the privacy community. Even the introduced opt-in solution, which requires active consent to the use of cookies, was not able to dispel the concerns.

A balancing act between data protection and functionality

Google’s successor solution is called Privacy Sandbox and was originally supposed to be rolled out in 2022. However, the company has to take into account the interests of data protection authorities as well as marketers and its own services, which depend on the functionality of Google’s online tracking. According to Google, the design was developed in close cooperation with developers and publishers. For these reasons, the launch was initially postponed until 2023.

In the meantime, the Privacy Sandbox API is expected to be fully usable by the end of 2023 and the final end of third-party cookies is planned for the second half of 2024.

Developers worldwide should already have access to the Privacy Sandbox API this year. The digital world and the online ad industry in particular need time to implement this new technology and adjust their processes to it. At the same time, there are repeated calls from those who would like the situation to be clarified more quickly. In the online ad industry, too, there is a great need for a reliable solution that both enables marketing performance and meets data protection requirements. Google’s new Privacy Sandbox API is therefore eagerly awaited in many places.

How are third-party cookies used?

Marketers and the SEO world may well have breathed a sigh of relief at the news of the extension. After all, they can continue to work with their tried-and-tested third-party cookies. As we know, first-party cookies are set by website operators when visitors come to their site and agree to their use. With the help of these cookies, basic information about the further behavior of the browsers can be collected.

However, third-party cookies, as you can glean from the name, are not set by the operators themselves. Instead, they rent out advertising space on their site, which can be booked by advertisers. These third-party providers are usually advertising networks that run ads on various websites. By setting third-party cookies, they can best influence exactly which ads a person is shown and with what frequency.