The Association of National Advertisers and the American Association of Advertising Agencies wrote an open letter calling out Google following its decision to remove third-party trackers from its popular Chrome browser by 2022.
"Google’s decision to block third-party cookies in Chrome could have major competitive impacts for digital businesses, consumer services and technological innovation,” the letter read. “It would threaten to substantially disrupt much of the infrastructure of today's Internet without providing any viable alternative, and it may choke off the economic oxygen from advertising that startups and emerging companies need to survive.”
The letter, which comes two days after Google announced it would remove third-party trackers from its Chrome browser, was signed by Dan Jaffe, group executive VP of government relations at the ANA, and Dick O’Brien, executive VP of government relations at the 4A’s.
"In the interim, we strongly urge Google to publicly and quickly commit to not imposing this moratorium on third party cookies until effective and meaningful alternatives are available,” the letter says.
Google reiterated what it had already said in its blog post, when reached for comment: "Once these approaches have addressed the needs of users, publishers, and advertisers, and we have developed the tools to mitigate workarounds, we plan to phase out support for third-party cookies in Chrome," Google said. "Our intention is to do this within two years."
Google’s move was likely encouraged by increasing privacy regulation, both here and abroad, as well as efforts made by other popular browsers such as Apple Safari and Mozilla Firefox, both of which have rendered cookies obsolete.
Yet, unlike Safari and Firefox, Google says it has a solution—dubbed “Privacy Sandbox”—that it says will maintain user privacy while still providing advertising measurement and targeting tools. Privacy Sandbox also won’t hurt publishers, says Google.
Still, many fear Google’s decision will significantly impact the digital advertising ecosystem; Criteo, a popular company among media buyers that relies on cookies for re-targeting consumers with ads, would be one example. Others believe Google’s decision to remove third-party cookies from Chrome will mark the death of brands being able to execute in-house analytics and measurement in house.
The Chrome browser has the largest U.S. market share on desktop with 69 percent, but lags behind Apple Safari on mobile (52 percent), according to StatCounter data. Digital ad revenue grew to record-breaking $58 billion for the first half of 2019, up 17 percent year-over-year, according to the IAB. Of that, mobile accounted for 69 percent of all digital ad revenue.
Other trades missing from letter
Other trade bodies, such as the Interactive Advertising Bureau, were notably missing from the letter. The IAB, as well as other advertising trade bodies, signed a similar letter in September 2017, which many believe was targeted at Apple Safari for its decision to remove cookies from its browser. The IAB did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Meanwhile, the Network Advertising Initiative, or NAI, said yesterday that it welcomes "Google’s involvement and recent contributions to establish a reinvigorated, collaborative discussion, and we appreciate their commitment to continue supporting cookies until such time as an effective alternative can be implemented."