Considerations are rising about Google's privateness coverage
Google Chrome has a market share of 70%, making it one of the dominant platforms on the Internet. That means the withdrawal of support for third-party cookies in 2022 will be a fundamental restart for the entire online ecosystem.
In particular, the prevailing business model of target advertising is called into question.
In contrast to its rival Apple from Silicon Valley, Google cannot throw third-party ad tech overboard financially or in court, especially since the antitrust authorities have this in their crosshairs.
Since 2019, the Google Chrome team has been creating plans for Privacy Sandbox, the collective term for its proposals to maintain an ad-supported Internet while meeting the increased privacy requirements of online users.
Privacy Sandbox has introduced new terminology for the online marketing dictionary. Ad tech experts have been discussing the proposals since they were announced.
The public debate is mostly taking place via the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), where the Google Chrome team has suggested that all of the ad auction dynamics be contained in the browser (the plan was originally called TurtleDove). However, critics claim that doing so would bump the odds too much in favor of Google's own ad stack and preclude independent ad technologies.
This sums up the dilemma that the Google organization is faced with: there is no indication that the web browser prefers its own stack of ads over its competitors.
Regardless, the Google Ads team countered with a compromise called DoveKey. Essentially, these are ad auctions that are still happening in Chrome. However, key data that could determine the ultimate winner of an ad auction is sent to a "key value server". Independent ad tech players have responded with their own counter-proposals, asking for assurances that Google will not act as a key-value server or gatekeeper deciding who will benefit from ad auctions in the Chrome web browser.
Speaking to Adweek in October, Chetna Bindra, Google's leading provider of product management for user confidence and visibility, said the Chrome team has relied on open source web development for over a decade. "There's a similar model here again," she said, referring to the privacy sandbox debates within W3C.
"We have set this two-year period (for the end of the cookie from January 2020) for this type of discussion," she added. "There is much more discussion going on, algorithm development and use case testing across the ecosystem, and the hope is that this will happen within W3C."
Fear, concern and cynicism
However, by the end of 2020, fear is widespread. And as usual with Google-led initiatives, there is a certain cynicism among publishers, indebted to Google's vice-like influence on the web.
Several sources informed Adweek that the previous data protection sandbox communication from Google was too conceptual. They want more specific examples of how the suggestions affect their day-to-day operations and, ultimately, revenue.
Matt Prohaska, CEO of Prohaska Consulting, told Adweek that many publishers are concerned about the slow development of Privacy Sandbox. "We are in a difficult phase where there is not enough detail," he added.
Paul Bannister, chief strategy officer at ad management service CafeMedia, told Adweek that premium publishers have concerns about how Privacy Sandbox will affect how best to choose to monetize ad inventory in Chrome. For example, if Google Chrome controls the amount of user data that is made available to marketers, how can they know what decision to make to get the most revenue?
@dmarti and I described the first publisher-specific problems in the privacy sandbox suggestions. This first batch is about auctions and how they work. https://t.co/2C59jrRolt 1 /
– Paul Bannister (@pbannist) November 24, 2020
"As a publisher, you can say," I don't want to go to TurtleDove (to monetize the ad inventory) "but at this point your site will work like a Safari user (via Apple's cookie-free web browser) on your site«, Bannister said, "Offer prices will be lower."