Google will now phase out third-party cookies in the Chrome browser in the second half of 2024, the Alphabet company said in a blog post. It was earlier planned to be phased out late next year. Google said that its Privacy Sandbox APIs are expected to launch in the third quarter of 2023 and this extension will give developers time to adopt the APIs.
Google also said that from this August it is expanding the Privacy Sandbox trials to “millions of users'' globally and will continue to expand it during the remainder of the year and into next year.
The Privacy Sandbox for Chrome was announced by Google in July 2020 as an alternative to the existing cookies-based ad tracking. This February, Google said that it will introduce a privacy sandbox for Android as well to limit the user data apps can share with third parties.
Cookie-based advertising has been widely criticised for being intrusive. Most privacy-focused browsers block cookies automatically. Apple’s Safari became the first mainstream browser to block third-party cookies in 2020. Apple has rolled out several new features since then to prevent apps from tracking users without their consent.
This along with the increased scrutiny from regulators in the European Union and other regions has forced Google to rethink its advertising strategy.
Google on its part proposed something called FLoC, short for federated learning of cohorts, in 2019 as a replacement for third-party cookies. FLoC has now been replaced by something called Topics, which will show ads based on interest-based categories. Experts believe that it's less problematic than FLoC, which FLoC used a clustering algorithm that many believed would club people based on race, sexual orientation, or disability. It also used browser fingerprinting which could be used to identify a person.