Google has announced the general availability of Privacy Sandbox from July. Whilst technically permitted, since the rollout will not be paired with any restrictions on existing technologies, we expect the development to cause significant damage to competitors.
The fact is that, regardless of the readiness or otherwise of Google’s offerings, by opening up its products for production use Google is sending a clear signal that the finalisation of the Privacy Sandbox project is near.
Those providing competing ad tech solutions using third-party cookies and other components due for deprecation, will consequently appear a less secure option; customers looking to the future might therefore be drawn to Google’s walled garden.
Indeed, this potential for ‘announcement harm’ was recognised by the CMA in their considerations of the competitive impact of the Privacy Sandbox.
Crucially, the Privacy Sandbox is simply inadequate to replace third party cookies as the ‘plumping’ of digital advertising:
- Numerous tests have found that replacing granular user data provided by cookies with cohort-level information is substantially less effective for ad targeting and attribution. See this recent report from AdWeek Problems With Google’s Privacy Sandbox as Trials Open (adweek.com)
- In its most recent quarterly report, Google also acknowledged that its technology imposed delays of up to 100ms on ad loading speeds, which would substantially decrease the revenues of non-Google media owners.
In order to avoid this potential for ‘announcment harm’, we would merely ask that the timeline for Google’s Privacy Sandbox rollout reflects the readiness of its technologies to offer the industry a workable alternative to current solutions. Similar to Google’s claims that cookies will be gone by the end of 2024, overcommitting undermines the market’s faith in small ad tech players.