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Google Sandbox Update and what it means for the Cookieless Future

Nikolai Scholz
Director, Product Management
Adara, RateGain



The year is 2012 and DVD sales are up against the first original releases by Netflix (Lilyhammer and House of Cards for the curious). Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy just 2 years ago and DVD by mail is going out of style. The biggest issue consumers are having with streaming is video quality and the Blu-ray Disc association continues to produce quality improvements by announcing their work on Ultra-HD technology. Quality is important to you, so you ask yourself “if DVDs are here to stay, why should I care about streaming services?”

The year now is 2022 and DVD sales are a non-topic. The focus has become the plethora of subscription model streaming services and what the next steps are. In many ways the third-party cookie is in a similar spot today as DVD sales were in 2012. Alternate privacy-first data technologies are the equivalent of streaming services in those days and their challenge isn’t quality, but instead the data scale behind the solution. Lastly, the Ultra-HD offering being promised somewhere in the future is, in the present cookie world, the potential that third-party cookies aren’t going away after all (e.g. insinuated by Google’s continued delay). The question now becomes “if third-party cookies are here to stay, why should I care about privacy-first data tech?”

This is the reality of today: Customer privacy is one of the most important topics globally. Google is attempting to tackle it by phasing out the third-party cookie from their browser Chrome, but in overpromising and under delivering, has put a great deal of pressure on companies investing into privacy-first technologies, casting doubt on whether there is a viable alternative to third-party cookies. This doubt is cultivating a sense of security in business-as-usual and as such denies adoption of alternate cookie technologies that have already developed and validated solutions for consumer privacy at scale. This is very reminiscent of how movie studios and retailers delayed and downplayed the demand that streaming services had; now those very same parties are taking advantage of it (they just didn’t like someone else being there ahead of them).

Much like DVD sales, which were already at a massive decline in 2012, we are now, in 2022, well into the process of phasing out cookies; originally triggered by the European GDPR in 2016 it was further exacerbated by Mozilla and Safari each blocking third-party cookies by default since 2019. In some estimates less than half of what was possible to collect in early 2016 with third–party cookies is possible to collect today (Interesting Fact: 40% of US web surfers are not trackable by third-party cookies). Publishers especially already feel this pain, needing to replace an approximate $5 billion in ad revenue that would otherwise have been generated through third-party cookies. On the opposite end, consumers feel this in the change of their online experience with an increase in paywalls and in some cases restrictions based on their region.

We know that the third-party cookie today has a fraction of the scale that it used to and that it will eventually be a thing of the past. It is important to remember, however, that the challenge here is not the inevitability of the third-party cookie deprecation, but instead the assurance that your data handling (whether internal or through third-parties) keeps to the highest standard in customer privacy. Much like Netflix was there to solve evolving consumer needs, new tech and cookie alternatives are already available today, ready to tackle the challenge of data sharing, audience targeting and measurement all while ensuring consumer privacy. Identity Resolution Tech, Customer Data Platforms, Clean Rooms and many more new technologies are all motivated by the theme of online privacy while solving your data application and without you needing to worry about the data regulations that affect you.

Whether you are a brand, a DMO or a publisher or whether you have or have not started to invest into alternate technologies, the opportunity to push is now. The window for the current technologies is closing and now is not the time to pump the brakes on customer privacy tech. Make sure to take advantage of this time and execute the transition to establishing privacy-first data applications with the most control to you.

If you are interested in seeing what Adara does and how it could fit into your data executions, please reach out to 

For those interested in the timeline of Google’s major updates related to Privacy Sandbox

Aug 29th 2019
Google’s first announcement of Privacy Sandbox – 

January 19th 2020
Google’s first indication that Privacy Sandbox would phase out third-party cookies – 

June 24th 2021
Google’s first timeline update for Privacy Sandbox – 

July 27th 2022
Google’s most recent timeline update on Privacy Sandbox –

Updates Privacy Sandbox timeline – 

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