Google hits back at report criticizing the Privacy Sandbox


Google is disputing claims made about Privacy Sandbox by an IAB Tech Lab report.

The Privacy Sandbox might make it harder for the marketing industry to show effective ads and could put smaller brands and media companies at a big disadvantage, according to the study.

Google responded by stating that the report contains “many inaccuracies” and “ignores” the broader goal of the Privacy Sandbox, which is to improve user privacy while still enabling effective digital advertising.

Why we care. If Privacy Sandbox disadvantages smaller businesses as the report suggests, exploring alternative solutions might be worthwhile ahead of the deprecation of third-party cookies.

What the IAB Tech Lab is saying. The report, titled Fit Gap Analysis for Digital Advertising, stated that:

  • “In its current form, the Privacy Sandbox may limit the industry’s ability to deliver relevant, effective advertising, placing smaller media companies and brands at a significant competitive disadvantage.”
  • “The stringent requirements could throttle their ability to compete, ultimately impacting the industry’s growth.”

Corrections. Google criticized the report, citing numerous inaccuracies and misunderstandings. The clarifications provided by Google can be categorized into four areas (refer to the bullet points below for the exact wording).:

  • Corrections to assumptions or use case gaps that are supported by the Privacy Sandbox APIs.
  • Use cases that are currently not supported by third-party cookies and are thus out of scope.
  • Feedback and/or proposals that could potentially recreate cross-site tracking and go against privacy-preserving goals.
  • Areas where the solution should be determined by the ad tech provider (not the browser or platform) or where the ad tech provider needs to adapt new tactics building on top of Privacy Sandbox.

Despite accusing the report of containing false information, Google said that it would welcome additional feature requests and possible improvement suggestions from the IAB Tech Lab.

What Google is saying. Google said in a statement:

  • “The Privacy Sandbox APIs provide building blocks that support business goals while preserving privacy for people. They are not designed to offer 1:1 replacements for third-party cookies or cross-site identifiers.”
  • “In order to deliver meaningful improvements to user privacy, it’s not viable to recreate every marketing tactic as it exists today. But it is possible to provide solutions that address business objectives by adapting existing approaches and, in some cases, inventing new ones.”
  • “While this change takes investment, effort, and collaboration, we believe it is both necessary and achievable.”

Moving forward. Google confirmed it plans to continue with its plans to phase out third-party cookies later this year, subject to addressing concerns raised by the UK Competition and Markets Authority.

What is the IAB Tech Lab? The IAB Tech Lab is a nonprofit consortium uniting global stakeholders in digital media. It focuses on developing technology and standards to improve growth and trust. Key areas of concern include brand safety, ad fraud, identity, data and consumer privacy, ad experiences, and programmatic effectiveness.


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Deep dive. Read Google’s response in full for more information.

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