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The cookieless bitesize series: What is the Privacy Sandbox?

Google Chrome plans to fully phase out third-party cookies in 2024, and with 63% of the global market share, this signals a significant change in how our industry considers targeting and measurement in advertising.

In an effort to preserve effective advertising while protecting consumer privacy, Google has launched the Privacy Sandbox, a series of potential alternative solutions to third-party cookies.

Google’s Privacy Sandbox aims to offer an alternative for a cookie-free future, built on privacy principles defined by the Google team, with browser capabilities to support the new world of digital advertising.

However, it’s impossible to replace everything that has been developed over the past 20 years to support online advertising in one giant leap. So, what exactly is the Privacy Sandbox? As bold and ambitious as Privacy Sandbox is, it’s rolling out with a lot of confusion and ambiguity, leaving plenty of unanswered questions about how it will work.

Let’s take a look at what Privacy Sandbox entails and what you need to do to prepare your advertising strategies for a cookie-free future.

So what is the Privacy Sandbox?

First and foremost, Privacy Sandbox is not a direct replacement for third-party cookies.

And Google can’t make it any clearer. “[The Sandbox proposals] are not designed to offer 1:1 replacements for third-party cookies… In order to deliver meaningful improvements to user privacy, it’s not viable to recreate every marketing tactic as it exists today.”

Instead, Privacy Sandbox is an entirely new approach. It aims to rebuild an ad server and an ad exchange within the browser, along with several other restrictions.

What are the Privacy Sandbox APIs?

Google has introduced a number of APIs to support the future of digital advertising. The most mature API is TOPICS, which observes user behaviour within the browser. Next is the Protected Audience API (PAAPI), providing capabilities for buyers to set up and target audience segments. The final API is Attribution Reporting for ad measurement and attribution, along with supporting features for privacy.

Unlike Safari, Google is taking a somewhat measured approach to phasing out cookies, and there are some elements of these new APIs that look promising.

Unsurprisingly, there are many question marks too. Considering IAB Tech Lab’s long list of critiques of the Privacy Sandbox, many marketers are concerned. However, Google is keen to receive this feedback and have an open dialogue around the expected functionalities that are not currently supported by the Sandbox. Google’s general response, however, is that these functions are available – it just may be very complex to figure out how they work.

What does the Privacy Sandbox mean for marketers?

In this series, we’ll delve deeper into the different Privacy Sandbox APIs as well as what the 1% shut off means, and much more, demystifying the death of the cookie so you don’t have to.

With that being said, here at Crimtan, our technology is proprietary, built in-house, and most importantly, agnostic. We’re able to incorporate newly-established identifiers from the likes of LiveRamp and The Trade Desk, and we’ve never been overly reliant on third-party cookies. Because of the way we’ve always measured performance, with Sandbox changes such as Google turning off CPA billing, we’re well set up to weather the storm (and every storm that comes after that…).

As for the industry, it may not be business as usual for a while as we all wait for the dust to settle and brace for the changes that Google may still make to its plan. However, with Crimtan being one of only 45 vendors currently testing in the Privacy Sandbox, with a direct line to Google, rest easy knowing that we’re ahead of the curve. Not to mention, we’ve been preparing for this since 2018.

If you would like to talk to one of our cookieless experts directly or find out how to adapt to the coming changes, why not get in touch today.