April 24, 2024

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Google is removing cookies – and not everyone is ready for it

Google is removing cookies – and not everyone is ready for it

Google is making sweeping changes to the way companies track users online. However, advertisers are not yet ready for these moves.

The changes at Google, which are among the largest in the history of the $600 billion-a-year online advertising industry, center around its use of cookies, a technology that records Internet users' activity on various websites so that advertisers can target them with relevant ads. .

Starting Thursday, Google will begin a limited test to restrict cookies to 1% of people who use Chrome, the world's most popular browser ever. By the end of the year, Google plans to remove cookies for all Chrome users.

Marketers, ad tech companies, and website publishers are working to ensure their businesses can weather this transition. They say Google, which has provided software tools designed to help replace cookies, has not done enough to prepare the market.

The industry is far from ready, said Anthony Katzur, CEO of the IAB Tech Lab, an ad tech industry trade group funded by members, including Google. He noted that the company should give the world more time to test alternative technologies before removing cookies, and that the timing of Google's planned full ban — so close to the crucial ad boom in the fourth quarter — would be cruel for the industry. “The timing is still bad. Launching during the biggest revenue generating time of the year for the industry is just a scary decision. complete.

What Google supports regarding cookies

Google executives said their efforts to remove cookies include Extensive collaboration with the web environment. They say many in the advertising industry have urged Google to move forward with these changes after previous delays in the process. Its cookie replacement tools aim to help the industry achieve business goals while respecting consumer privacy.

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“We are confident in the industry’s ability to adapt to the transformation.”Anthony Chavez, Google's vice president overseeing the changes, said.

Cookies have been around since the early days of the Internet. Google's changes target third-party cookies that the online advertising industry places on websites to track users across the Internet. For example, an apparel manufacturer might use technology to target a person reading articles on a news outlet's website after that person clicks on a competing ad on another website. The changes do not affect the types of cookies that websites use to store basic information, such as login details.

While Google's efforts will initially only affect a small portion of Chrome users, it could eventually mean that billions of Internet users will see fewer ads that perfectly match their web browsing habits. Consumer advocates have argued that third-party cookies violate users' privacy because they can be used to create detailed profiles, including sensitive information such as a person's medical history.

Advertiser objections to Google's efforts

Late last decade, Mozilla Firefox and Apple's Safari browsers began setting limits on tracking cookies due to privacy concerns. Google followed suit in 2020 with plans to pull it from Chrome entirely. But the process was delayed several times and complaints followed.

Its plans have drawn complaints based on cookies to help advertisers target customers and track how effectively they spend. Some of them have also raised concerns that the changes will strengthen the tech company's dominance by focusing more important functions on the company's browser technology.

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Chrome accounts for 65% of global web trafficThat makes it three times more popular than Safari, the second most popular browser, according to Statcounter data.

However, Google said it had promised not to give preferential treatment to its products as part of an agreement with the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which oversees cookie removal plans. The company said that its agreement with the Capital Markets Authority will be applied globally.

Big ad tech companies have already complained to the CMA and Google that their proposals contain significant gaps in important features like video and are technically difficult to implement, people familiar with the discussions said.

Google described the changes this month as a limited test before moving to remove cookies. The CMA has the ability to effectively veto plans if it concludes that they will harm other companies.

Some industry executives said Google's lucrative search advertising business would benefit from removing cookies, Because it doesn't rely on it as much, making it a safer destination for advertisers during the transition period.

Google executives said the company's primary goal is to improve user privacy while providing as much value as possible to advertisers. They said the changes will require some companies to overhaul their existing products or innovate new ones.

With information from The Wall Street Journal