It’s Happening – Everybody Stay Calm! Cookies Sunset for 1%

Following last week’s announcement in which Google took the (reluctantly) anticipated first step in deprecating cookies for 1% of global Chrome users, the immortal ‘Fire Drill’ scene from The Office plays on repeat. “What’s the procedure, everyone? What’s the procedure?” Look, it’s not easy, but we’ve been talking about this since it was a glimmer in Google’s eyes four years ago. We survived cookie deprecation with Safari and Firefox. We soldiered on through Apple’s App Tracking Transparency and we’ve navigated environments without cookies at all, like Connected TV. While the air remains thick with uncertainty, deep breath and chin up – we’ll find the exit together.

What’s happening?
On January 4, Google initiated a test for a browser feature called Tracking Protection. It’s another key milestone in the overarching privacy landscape aimed at protecting user data and placing control into their hands. In doing so, it will limit cross-site tracking, thereby compromising things like ad targeting and relevancy, measurement, attribution, and more.

While Google doesn’t publicly disclose Chrome user stats, we can estimate this test of 1% to be implemented for approximately 32 million randomly selected users. Google plans to ramp up to 100% of users beginning in Q3 2024 until cookies are phased out completely by year-end. This timeline, of course, is subject to change based on numerous factors including, but not limited to, approval of the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority, which is monitoring the implementation process for competition concerns.

Participants chosen for Tracking Protection will be notified when Chrome is opened on desktop or Android and cookies will be disabled by default. The message will read, “Browse with more privacy” appearing alongside an eye-shaped icon with a strike through it.

Where do we go from here?
Google has been playing in their Privacy Sandbox for several years, but many question the intentions and efficacy of the resulting APIs developed, anticipating a benefit to Google’s paid search business (with lesser reliance on third-party cookies). Limited testing for the Privacy Sandbox APIs opened in September 2023, but more widespread live trials are now possible with the 1% deprecation.

While experimentation with Privacy Sandbox APIs is necessary, there are many tools in the toolbox. At Brkthru, we’re not waiting for someone to save us – we’ve helped our clients become the heroes, pivoting towards this post-cookie environment for several years running.

Yes, the cookie is leaving plenty of crumbs, but unlike Dwight Schrute’s trash can, nothing is on fire. Should these recent developments have you sounding the alarm, don’t suffer in silence. Help is one call or email away.

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