20 Ad Tech Industry Experts Weigh In On Google’s Third Party Cookie Deprecation Delay

The ad tech industry is experiencing a serious case of déjà vu. Google announced that it will no longer fully eliminate Chrome’s third-party cookies by the end of this year. Yet, we didn’t need a fortune teller to see this news coming. 

After Google started the initial third-party cookie deprecation process earlier this year, implementing tracking protection for 30 million Chrome users (about 1% of its user base), and the ad tech industry began testing targeting cookieless audiences, there was a large industry sentiment that we were not quite ready for Chrome’s cookie deprecation. Well, it’s looking like maybe we weren’t. 

Even before Google and the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) release their quarterly report in April, updating the ecosystem about the latest status of Privacy Sandbox, the tech giant announced that Chrome’s apocalyptic cookie rapture would not complete by the second half of Q4, as earlier proposed.

Providing context for the delay Google wrote an official statement on the Privacy Sandbox site:

“We recognize that there are ongoing challenges related to reconciling divergent feedback from the industry, regulators and developers, and will continue to engage closely with the entire ecosystem.” It’s also critical that the CMA has sufficient time to review all evidence, including results from industry tests, which the CMA has asked market participants to provide by the end of June. Given both of these significant considerations, we will not complete third-party cookie deprecation during the second half of Q4.” 

Many in the industry called it, some even believing that a complete cookie cutoff will never come.  We reached out to some ad tech thought leaders for their points of view about what this means for the future of the third-party cookie and the ad tech ecosystem overall. Here’s what they had to say…

The Ad Tech Industry’s Initial Reactions

I’m sure some were banking on Google’s cookie deprecation plans coming through by the end of this year, but many saw the writing on Chrome’s walls long before this announcement. Still, giving publishers and advertisers more time to test post-cookie and privacy-centric solutions is a good thing. 

“Google’s new timeline helps the industry continue to test and adapt. Beyond even cookies, non-addressable inventory will only increase and the industry should act now to prepare for these changes. Either way, Yahoo is ready to support advertisers today, with solutions for addressable and non-addressable environments, as well as testing in the Privacy Sandbox.” – Adam Roodman, SVP of Product Strategy & Management, Yahoo

“Google will never be able to deprecate third-party cookies and still gather the enormous amounts of data that it has. Google’s core business is built on knowing and targeting known users across its systems and properties.  

I’ve said at every turn that third-party cookies would not be deprecated anytime soon with the CMA involved.” – Terry Guyton-Bradley, Senior Director of Advertising Technology, Fortune

“Kudos to the CMA for holding Google accountable and ensuring that Google’s approach is very thoughtful to publishers, especially when compared to Apple. Google has delayed the rollout of its cookie deprecation plan because it is thoughtful and has made good faith efforts to balance its corporate public-facing positioning with serving the Publishers and Brands who rely on Google’s ecosystem to survive. 

This stands in stark contrast to Apple, who are cynically painting Publishers who rely on advertising dollars as villains so they can drive audiences to Apple owned platforms. When Apple shut off third-party cookies on Safari, Publisher web CPMs dropped by 77%. When Apple shut off IDFA, Publishers’ mobile inventory suffered with a 50% drop in Facebook Audience Network CPM revenue.” – Matt Keiser, Founder, and CEO, LiveIntent

“Google’s delay, once again, is not surprising, given the technical and regulatory complexities involved. Marketers should take this extra time as a cue to adapt proactively. Focusing now on technologies that analyze the digital environment rather than the consumer—like contextual and intent-based advertising—will prepare them for a future where consumer privacy is paramount. As the industry evolves, adopting these privacy-compliant and contextually relevant approaches will meet regulatory standards and enhance digital engagement’s effectiveness.”Uri Lichter, CEO Intango

“When Google announced the one percent depreciation earlier this year, they were testing the waters to see how much disruption would occur. Advertisers are still not prepared for a cookieless world, and it is the right move by the CMA to further interrogate a disruptive advertising move where currently only one entity, Google, stands to gain.” Obele Brown-West, President, Tracer

“Google’s announcement on cookies wasn’t entirely unexpected, but the timing did raise some eyebrows. While cookie deprecation is inevitable for privacy reasons, finding a suitable alternative is crucial to maintaining effective targeting. Marketers are hopeful for a solution that respects user privacy without sacrificing precision in messaging. It’s a reminder of the ongoing evolution in digital marketing strategies.” Chris Coomer, VP of Data, Analytics & Insights, NP Digital

“My initial reaction, and continued sentiment, is that this is a great setback for publisher innovation. Too many organizations require C-suite buy-in to invest in authentication and alt-IDs, and if those players are sated by the delay of cookie deprecation and are comforted by the knowledge that third-party cookies will still help their Chrome revenues through Q4, I think that all forward progress gets paused once again. 

Chrome will for sure deprecate the third-party cookie, just as they will further obfuscate IP addresses and device IDs in time.”  Justin Wohl, Chief Revenue Officer, Snopes.com

Movement For an Open Web (MOW) Questions Google’s Motives 

James Rosewell, co-founder of the MOW, commented on Google’s decision to delay its Privacy Sandbox rollout further, noting that regulatory and industry pressures compelled this move. With inquiries from the CMA, the EU, and the US DOJ scrutinizing Google’s Privacy Sandbox and market position, it was inevitable for Google to postpone such a significant change. 

Furthermore, Rosewell states that Google’s Privacy Sandbox’s ineffectiveness offers a convenient shield. Both the CMA and the IAB Tech Lab have raised concerns about its suitability. Google can acknowledge these concerns and sidestep regulatory injunctions. 

“For anyone who thinks regulation doesn’t have an impact, they’re wrong. However, both the CMA and Google are complicit in continuing the uncertainty. The CMA needs to be clear that Google can’t interfere with interoperability and that Google’s Privacy Sandbox must compete on its merits. That would solve the problems. If the CMA is reluctant, then the DMU is weeks away from becoming law, which gives them more powers. 

“Now, the industry has more time to prepare if they think Google’s plans will come to fruition. However, be mindful. Without the guarantee of interoperability, so-called alternative solutions will likely not work either. Apple has a policy regarding interference. Under data protection law, there is no difference between first and third parties. It’s all about the risk of harm. Jumping on first-party data solutions is not without risk.

“I predict that cookies will eventually go the way of the telegram. When they’re no longer used, Chrome will remove them. In the meantime, they need to remain while better solutions are advanced and adopted. In the field of privacy, there are likely to be many better solutions than those advanced by GApple. A competitive market will enable innovation and diverse solutions suited to different needs.”James Rosewell, Founder, MOW

The Future of the Industry and Chrome’s Cookie Delay

As the news of Chrome’s cookie delay settles in, the ad tech industry is moving ahead with cookie alternative privacy-centric techniques. Whether Chrome will be going cookieless anytime soon, ad tech is forging a path forward that helps engage consumers with considerations of privacy ethics. 

This delay presents a valuable opportunity for the industry to capitalize on existing cookied datasets while leveraging contextual or alternative identifier data. Advertisers and publishers should seize this opportunity to test solutions now while seeing the impact through A/B testing is still easy. This will help guide the new proxies and performance replacements when (not if) the cookie is gone. The race to interoperability is on, and we encourage the industry to maintain its momentum in preparation—now is not the time to take our foot off the pedal.” – Jenn Chen President and CRO, Connatix

“This is only a pause. IAB Tech Lab maintains that the 3PC will eventually disappear. We continue to advocate for a portfolio approach to addressability. This delay should not be an excuse for the digital advertising industry to be complacent. We must continue to innovate privacy-preserving addressability & measurement solutions while working with Chrome to improve upon the critical shortcomings of the Privacy Sandbox.”Anthony Katsur, CEO, IAB Tech Lab 

“It was very likely that a delay was going to happen, given that the larger ecosystem wasn’t ready. A lot of work is being done but it’s a long road to remake the whole digital ads ecosystem. I continue to think it’s very likely that Google will depreciate, but will be very curious to see the next UK CMA report as it will shed light on some of the biggest areas that led to the delay.”Paul Bannister, CSO, Raptive. 

“I have been researching Privacy Sandbox for years now and am constantly learning more. I will use the extra time to better understand how the industry is using these new tools and how they perform. So many of us are grappling with Privacy Sandbox and I will continue to share my findings publicly—including an open webinar next week. 

I also know from speaking with leading companies in this space, that they face three key challenges: 1) implementing & optimizing the various Privacy Sandbox tools in practice; 2) orchestrating these tools and the feedback they provide; and 3) scaling from 1% deprecation to 100%. So, I expect these companies will make good use of this extra time.”Garrett Johnson, Assistant Professor, Questrom School of Business, Boston University

“Most Marketers have already prepared themselves for a cookieless world, and the recent Google delay only postpones the inevitable. The vast majority of the bidstream today is already cookieless and the fastest growing channels like CTV have never supported cookies. We’re encouraging marketers to lean into their first-party data strategies, and to adopt identity solutions that break free from reliance on third-party cookies to ensure they remain competitive.”Jon Schulz, CMO, Viant Technology

“We have always embraced contextual and content-based targeting, without the need of third-party data. Rather than having ‘will they, won’t they’ conversations, we’ve been able to take a future-proofed approach, ensuring that an ad is placed within relevant content. As a result, we’ve helped brands and agencies increase campaign impact, effectiveness and, as a result, reduce media wastage.” – Bill Schild, GM, Americas, Channel Factory

“While the industry has been buzzing about the pros and cons around Google Privacy Sandbox, I keep asking myself – ‘Isn’t the cookie just soggy at this point?’ Ad tech firms like Liveramp, TTD and Magnite have already started to plant their flag in the ground with identity-free solutions.

As the decision to delay becomes official, my only caution to our industry is that we don’t keep pushing identity down the road—much of the cookie depreciation has already occurred. Marketers who own their data and take a thoughtful approach to reaching and messaging with their customers and prospects are primed to win the biggest share of wallets.”Lance Wolder, Head of Strategy and Marketing, PadSquad

“For marketers, the message is clear: get off cookies now. Most of the industry, including mobile and other browsers like Safari, have already moved away from cookies or never used them in the first place. Don’t wait for Google’s shifting timeline to take action; the transition should be happening now. Keep in mind that regardless of cookies, the web’s future—driven by consumer preferences and regulatory changes—is identity-less. Contextual targeting is the best way forward.” – Ken Weiner, Chief Technology Officer, GumGum.

“In the U.S., Chrome represents 50% of web traffic, and even here, we often see a 10% to 50% reduction in tracking accuracy due to cookie synchronization challenges. This means that globally, we can track less than half of web traffic using third-party cookies. 

Marketers must assess their dependency on third-party cookie technology in running ads, measure their performance, and explore alternative solutions to limit the risk of being impacted by a Google technology change likely to happen in the coming months.” Rico Dittrich, Consulting Manager and Privacy Ambassador, fifty-five

“The roll-out of Chrome’s Privacy Sandbox is a complex endeavor with a lot of regulatory oversight, so it’s no surprise that there have been delays along the way. That said, Android’s Privacy Sandbox is progressing well, and this is a great time for marketers who advertise on mobile to get familiar with a world without device identifiers. They can begin early testing of the Privacy Sandbox by starting integration tests, testing the APIs, and providing feedback, which can greatly help influence Google’s designs and roadmaps.” Katie Madding, Chief Product Officer, Adjust

“Google has historically solved issues within their own four walls attempting to deprecate third-party cookies with the promise to offer alternative solutions warrants collaboration. After initial reluctance, the AdTech industry has proposed multiple solutions to the issues that plague Privacy Sandbox, Google should consider altering their own opinions in order to meet the promise they made to the CMA.

Neither the sell-side and buy-side of the industry should deviate from testing and improving the solutions offered for a cookieless browser environment, no matter the change in timeline from the Privacy Sandbox team. The largest threat to the digital advertising ecosystem is the stagnation of innovation and having an entire industry consumed by the depreciation of the third-party cookie is threatening to do just that.”Amanda Martin, SVP, Monetization & Business Strategy, Mediavine

“Anyone expecting Google—or any other big tech platform—to help end the era of measurement, privacy, and marketing malpractice that third-party cookies underpin must open their eyes to the broader trajectory of where this has been and where this is going. There was once a time when the third-party cookie added economic value that far outweighed the risks it created. In 2024, third-party cookies are only making a few companies a lot of money: the companies that set the cookies (Google, Facebook, etc.). 

Brands lose up to $29 per customer acquired online because their acquisition strategies rely on third-party cookie-based audiences. These audiences are now over-saturated, leaving a smaller and smaller pool of users under-exposed to any individual brand message, all while the cost of showing these ads is higher than ever. 

So, what will end the third-party cookie? Simple, when someone figures out how to make advertisers more money without them.” — Matt Butler, the CEO and co-founder of Bonsai Data Solutions