DSPs prepare for heavy lifting within Privacy Sandbox

Since January 4, the countdown has begun for Google withdrawing full support for third-party cookies within its market-leading web browser Chrome.

While many debate the practicalities of Google abiding by its publicly stated timeline of phasing out third-party cookies by the close of 2024, the need for action is clear. 

In the week following the January 4 commencement date — when Chrome began its phased 1% depreciation trial — Raptive’s chief strategy officer Paul Bannister posted some early findings of what the industry may come to expect over the coming 12 months.

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“Uncookied Chrome users appear to be monetizing about 30% worse than those with cookies,” he wrote in a LinkedIn post. “That seems bad, but it’s far better than the 60% worse performance of Safari users… We also think much of that 30% gap can be made up this year with continued investment in Privacy Sandbox, ID solutions, and more.”

The buy-side braces for hard yards ahead 

A study published earlier this month by PrimeAudience, noted how 56% of U.S. marketers are testing for the cookieless future. However, the same study, which quizzed 251 marketers in the closing quarter last year, also found that 30% of marketers do not know how to use the Protected Audience API. 

Elsewhere, feedback from an industry event hosted by Criteo-owned entity BidSwitch at the end of last year points to demand-side platforms facing a particularly “heavy lift” regarding the era-defining transition.

“A lot of people were like deers in the headlights,” said one event attendee, who requested anonymity as the November 28 conference was conducted under the Chatham House rule.

“This is not just an XL [scale project] in terms of developer resource,” added another source who suggested that DSPs must allocate at least 10 engineers to such experimentation. “And that’s just to get to the baseline, not to reach full parity with how ad targeting can be done now [with third-party cookies].”

DSPs are faced with a number of logistical challenges by The Privacy Sandbox, with some asserting that it essentially requires building a separate buying tool to operate within the cookie-less version of Google Chrome.

Additional challenges such entities must face include managing ad auctions within a web browser using APIs such as Protected Audiences. Speaking with Digiday recently, Criteo’s Todd Parsons, described the DSP’s efforts to prolong ad targeting on the platform.

“What we are thinking about is how to stitch together identifiers from each of those [walled garden] environments, including retail media, which is really at the core of our business and our growth,” he said. 

Elsewhere, Lukaz Wlodarczyk of RTB House — another noted participant in the Privacy Sandbox trials — told Digiday his company has allocated “over 60 professionals within the company” to such experiments. These efforts included architecting and building a (what is in effect) a separate DSP to operate within the cookieless browser. 

“RTB House built a prototype that is now operational, processing test traffic received from supply-side platforms and directly from publishers,” added Wlodarczyk.  

Meanwhile, a statement shared with Digiday by Infillion — the martech company attempting to rejuvenate the MediaMath DSP — noted how, “We are making investment decisions that line up with our roadmap to build the industry’s leading DSP — tuned for attention, privacy and built to go beyond commodity offerings to power bespoke advertiser solutions.” 


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