Google announced their decision to depreciate third-party cookies back in July 2022, and that rollout officially began in early January this year. This decision follows in the footsteps of other major search engines, such as Firefox and Safari who have previously put measures in place to restrict tracking from third-party cookies.
Chrome has over 66% of the browser market share worldwide, meaning that this change is going to have a significant impact on both users and marketers when compared to earlier browsers having made similar changes.
The cookie depreciation is part of a wider initiative related to Google’s Privacy Sandbox, which both strengthens privacy, but also gives businesses the tools to facilitate growth.
EOY 2023 – Chrome initiates facilitated testing
Chrome’s facilitated testing started in Q4 of 2023, and is due to continue until mid Q2 of 2024. During this time you are likely to see an increase in the number of Chrome users on your website with their third-party cookies disabled; this is regardless of whether you are actively participating in Chrome-facilitated testing.
December 2023 – Depreciation trial registration
Registration for the depreciation trial began on the 4th December 2023. This left a short time period of a month between registering for the trial, and the depreciation rollout beginning on the 4th January 2024.
January 2024 – Google depreciates cookies for 1% of Google Chrome users
On the 4th January 2024, Google began the rollout of their plan to depreciate third-party cookies, by implementing this for 1% of Google Chrome users. This is part of their plan to facilitate testing.
Browsers that are within this 1% will now be able to see and use tracking protection user controls.
April 2024 – End of grace period
Google acknowledges the short period of time between registering for the depreciation trial, and the cookie restriction rollout. To address this, Google has implemented a grace period which will allow trial registrants to have access to third-party cookies in Google Chrome.
EOY 2024 – third-party cookie depreciation rolled out to 100% of Chrome users
Starting in Q3 and moving into Q4 of 2024, Google plans to progress the cookie depreciation until eventually 100% of Chrome users have the same cookie restrictions, and protection controls.
Firmness of Timeline
Google states that they are on track to move forward with the planned timeline, and will work to the schedule of removing third-party cookies for all Chrome users by the end of 2024. They are confident that the current timeline allows businesses ample time to:
- Trial operation without third-party cookies
- Provide feedback during testing phases
- Make preparations for the full depreciation rollout
Summary & final remarks
Google’s decision to depreciate third-party cookies marks a significant shift in online privacy and digital marketing landscapes. The timeline predicted for the rollout of this change in 2024, allows businesses to test operations without third-party cookies, provide feedback, and make necessary preparations for the full rollout.