Culture

Advertising trade groups don't want Google Chrome to phase out cookies

Revenue could tank if Google goes forward with an alternative, they say.

Shutterstock

It's only been a few days since Google said it plans to place more emphasis on user privacy and create alternatives to cookies in Chrome, and already the company's announcement has rattled the ad industry.

In an open letter from groups represented by the American Association of Advertising Agencies and Association of National Advertisers, ad groups collectively state Google's move could "choke off the economic oxygen from advertising that startups and emerging companies need to survive."

Late to the game — Cookies — basically text files that follow your e-footprint — have long been a source of privacy concerns. Chrome would be just another browser trying to mitigate the plethora of legitimate privacy worries that these files raise. In the past, Firefox, Safari, and Brave addressed the issue and how these files would work in their respective browsers.

What's the fuss? — Given what other browsers have implemented, Google wouldn't be enacting anything new per se. But it's the fact that it is, according to the federal government, the most used browser in the United States that makes this potential move so jarring for ad groups. Since most people in the country use Chrome, it naturally is the biggest source of revenue for third parties dependent on these cookies.

While ad groups see cash in cookies, privacy activists see trackers following you all over the internet. In their open letter, these groups seem aware of such valid criticism but they still implore Google to hold off its moratorium on cookies and instead, collaborate with ad groups on alternatives that would apparently "ensure the digital advertising marketplace continues to be competitive and efficient."

If Google follows its plan, the move to create a "privacy sandbox" could take effect in just two years. Third party ad vendors are unmistakably worried but Google has reassured that everyone — from browser users, developers, and yes, ad agencies — will appreciate the new ecosystem it creates.