Google’s Chrome Browser to Test Tracking Protection Feature Ahead of Cookie Phase-Out
Alphabet’s Google has announced plans to roll out a new feature, called Tracking Protection, on its Chrome browser in a bid to eliminate the use of third-party cookies commonly utilized by advertisers for consumer tracking. The tech giant is set to launch the feature on January 4, initially testing it on 1% of Chrome users globally, with a wider implementation anticipated in the second half of 2024.
The move is part of Google’s broader initiative to enhance user privacy by restricting cross-site tracking by default. Third-party cookies are specialized files that enable websites and advertisers to identify individual users and monitor their online browsing activities.
While Google aims to completely phase out third-party cookies by 2024, the timeline is contingent on addressing antitrust concerns raised by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The CMA has been investigating Google’s plan to discontinue support for certain cookies in Chrome, expressing apprehension that such actions could hinder competition in the digital advertising sector.
The European Union antitrust chief, Margrethe Vestager, reiterated in June that investigations into Google’s introduction of tools to block third-party cookies, part of the company’s “Privacy Sandbox” initiative, will persist.
Advertisers have voiced concerns about the potential impact on their ability to collect personalized information for ad targeting in the absence of cookies, particularly within the world’s most widely used browser. Some argue that this shift may make them more reliant on Google’s user databases.
In response to these changes, brokerage BofA Global Research noted in a Thursday statement that the phase-out of cookies could empower media agencies, particularly those capable of providing proprietary insights at scale to advertisers.
As Google proceeds with its plans, the tech giant will likely navigate regulatory scrutiny and industry feedback to strike a balance between enhancing user privacy and addressing concerns within the digital advertising landscape.