Google makes Privacy Sandbox generally available in Chrome

Google LLC is broadly rolling out key components of Privacy Sandbox, a software toolkit designed to reduce the amount of data that online advertisers collect about users. 

The company announced the launch on Thursday. The Privacy Sandbox components included in the rollout are now generally available for Chrome users.

Historically, brands delivered personalized ads to consumers using third-party cookies. Those are files that are installed on users’ computers to collect data about their browsing habits. Brands analyze that browsing data, determine what topics a user is interested in and personalize their ads accordingly.

Privacy Sandbox likewise enables brands to determine consumers’ areas of interest. However, the technology does so without providing access to users’ browsing histories as third-party cookies do. According to Google, the result is improved consumer privacy.

The first Privacy Sandbox component that became available in Chrome this week is called Topics. It’s responsible for determining users’ areas of interest without disclosing their browsing habits to advertisers. The other components, in turn, focus on tasks such as helping brands analyze how ad clicks lead to e-commerce purchases.

One reason why the components’ rollout this week is significant relates to their application programming interfaces, or APIs. Now that the components are generally available, the APIs are not expected to change significantly. That means they will be easier to deploy for advertisers hoping to adopt Privacy Sandbox. 

“General availability means the Privacy Sandbox technologies are in a stable state, and ready for scaled use by advertising solutions to support key business use cases,” Anthony Chavez, vice president of Privacy Sandbox, wrote in a blog post. “Companies integrating the Privacy Sandbox APIs into their solutions can now scale their deployment and testing to assess readiness for the planned deprecation of third-party cookies in Chrome.”

Google is rolling out the APIs alongside new privacy controls for Chrome. According to the search giant, the controls will enable consumers to manage what data Privacy Sandbox collects about their areas of interest. Consumers are also gaining the ability to block websites from using the technology to deliver ads. 

In parallel with its effort to broadly roll out Privacy Sandbox, Google plans to end Chrome’s support for third-party cookies. It will implement the change in phases.

First, Google plans to release a tool that will allow advertisers to test how the deprecation of third-party cookies may impact their operations. In the first quarter of 2024, Google will proceed to end third-party cookie support on 1% of Chrome installations. The company plans to roll out the change to all Chrome installations in the second half of 2024. 

Image: Google

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