A new blog post last week by Google quickly made headlines in national news media, putting the focus back on the upcoming loss of third-party cookies. David Temkin, Google’s Director of Product Management for Ads Privacy and Trust, reaffirmed that Google plans to end support for cookies in its Chrome browser next year. Temkin and Google were also clear they will not be joining other initiatives to replace alternate user-based identifiers – such as UID 2.0 – that track cross-website behavior on an individual level.

In this blog post, IPG’s Arun Kumar offers his take on the news and how IPG agencies will be prepared to help brands navigate this change, while continuing to advocate for a balanced and respectful approach to marketing that delivers value to individuals and businesses and respects people’s rights.

What was announced?

Google announced that it is targeting mid-2022 for the removal of third-party cookies from its Chrome browser. In our conversations with Google in advance of its announcement, Google assured us of its continued support of the third-party cookie in Chrome until the standards bodies have agreed on a solution for delivering relevant ads and the industry has had time to implement those standards.

Google is encouraged by the results from early tests by the Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC), which is a privacy-focused solution that aims to deliver relevant ads “by clustering large groups of people with similar interests.” Accounts are anonymized, grouped into interests, and user information is processed on-device rather than broadcast across the web. Google has been simulating transactions and believes FLoC can be an effective replacement signal for third-party cookies. Google will make FLoC-based cohorts available for testing this month.

What is the expected impact of Google’s announcement?

If, like us, you have been following Google’s positioning in the market, this news isn’t “new.” We always knew Google was going to limit the use of third-party data and would have a solution that only aggregates data outside its walls.

This blog post will certainly reinvigorate the attention on Google’s commitment to third-party cookie deprecation and seems to add urgency to the standards body, W3C, to align on standards for reaching audiences with relevance in a post-cookie world.

Google has confirmed that once this is in place, it will no longer develop against third-party offerings. This can be challenging for partners and clients that rely on third-party environments like DMPs to help facilitate the translation of their audience approaches.

What does it mean for Acxiom, Kinesso, Matterkind, and all IPG agencies?

We are committed to ethical data use, digital responsibility, and conscious marketing, ensuring a balanced, respectful, and accountable approach to marketing that delivers value to individuals and businesses and respects the rights of people.

We appreciate that Google’s approach is standards-based and is supportive of its alignment with the work of bodies like W3C. In particular, we welcome the progress being made around FLoC. We trust this commitment from Google means it will continue to support the use of third-party cookies in Chrome until the standards bodies have agreed on the solution, and the industry has had time to implement it. In short, we are trusting that the final industry-based approach will indeed address the needs of the industry.

It is encouraging to hear Google believes all of this can be achieved by mid-2022, though non-FLoC approaches appear to be moving more slowly, which could conceivably mean the timeline slips to 2023.

We look forward to working with Google to test and evaluate these new approaches and solutions. We will begin testing its privacy sandbox this Q2 and are among one of the first groups being allowed early access and testing. We will be ready and prepared if Google does, in fact, hold to the announced timeline of mid-2022.

We will be working with Google on alternative approaches over the next 12-18 months to identify opportunities that allow us to scale audience buying within the Google environment. This merely puts additional emphasis on how we understand and translate first-party data assets. We are also working closely with publishers as part of our addressable marketplace initiative, which would qualify as first-party context.