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Why Testing Google’s Cookie-Alternative Privacy Sandbox Is Still Minimal

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Chief among the concerns at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Annual Leadership Meeting in Marco Island, Fla., this week is that Google Chrome’s Privacy Sandbox, a pack of solutions to replace third-party cookies, is not yet ready to meet the demands of programmatic advertising.

Publishers, ad-tech firms and marketers at the event pointed to vague aggregate reporting features, fewer video solutions and a relatively complicated set of proposals, all leading to almost nonexistent testing.

However, despite problems with Privacy Sandbox—like questions with cross-domain tracking in Related Web Sets and the fact buyers cannot easily test in Google ad platform DV360—the technologies underpinning the proposals are still a work in progress.

“Privacy Sandbox is a product that’s in process,” said Anthony Katsur, CEO of IAB Tech Lab, which is publishing a report analyzing areas for improvement in Privacy Sandbox in the coming days. It will be “tight” but doable for Google to address these industry concerns before the U.K. Competition and Markets Authority reviews the Privacy Sandbox proposals in the second half of the year, he added.

Anthony Chavez, vp of product management at Google, Privacy Sandbox, said that while some focus on objections, the Privacy Sandbox team is collaborating with partners focused on solutions.

“At the event, we’ve been encouraged by the number of IAB members who are building ad-tech offerings using the Privacy Sandbox building blocks,” Chavez said, noting that the beginning of the current programmatic ecosystem also took a long time and had similar chicken-or-the-egg problems with testing. “Building a more private web with privacy-preserving advertising will be no different.”

Judged as a finished product

A small group of ad-tech professionals has been testing Privacy Sandbox proposals like the contextual-style targeting Topics API (application-programming interface) since they’ve been public. But most of the industry is still in the learning phase and only just starting to test, several sources said.

“I don’t think anyone has presented it as anything but a work in progress, but it is being judged as a finished product,” said Amanda Martin, senior vice president of monetization and business strategy at publisher network Mediavine.

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