The Pitfalls of Google's Privacy Sandbox

Google's alternative to cookies is posing many risks for digital publishers and advertisers.
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The IAB Tech Lab reported on Google’s Privacy Sandbox, Google’s solution to their own cookie deprecation problem. Unsurprisingly, the new solution has brought significant challenges for media companies. The IAB identified four major issues: 1. Insufficient Metrics, 2. Concerns around brand safety, 3. The disruption of on-browser computing, and 4. The failure to address commercial requirements. We’ll walk you through these concerns and explain why Google’s solution may not be the best one in the market.

1. Insufficient Metrics

Google’s Privacy Sandbox, according to the IAB, will offer “aggregated reporting.” This is good for a general recap of your progress and a quick analysis of your strategies. However, for optimal success, businesses need more than just overarching facts and figures. When investing in an alternative solution to cookies, you must consider how much data you previously relied on - A LOT. Data can make or break a digital media company, let alone a single campaign.

Big names mean nothing if they can’t deliver the essential tools for business success. You should really take your time to consider all your options and get the biggest bang for your buck. Just as an example, WowYow AI has digital media solutions that provide both aggregated reporting and more granular insights. You have access to all the data you invest in WowYow’s solutions. You can peruse these detailed analytics on WowYow’s platform or download them as a file. Either way, you get what you paid for, and you can use all this data to make more informed decisions on your strategies going forward.

“The Privacy Sandbox… suffers from a lack of transparency for publishers. Its aim to replicate the efficacy of third-party cookies has not been realized. This shortfall undermines publishers’ capabilities to execute numerous vital advertising scenarios and support significant first-party use cases.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Robert Blanck (General Manager Advertising & E-Commerce, Axel Springe)

2. Concerns Around Brand Safety

Brands are extremely concerned as we head into this new, cookieless era. Businesses are not confident in Google’s ability to maintain the integrity of their brand, as Google has always relied on user data to target their advertisements. Without Google’s usual advertising technologies, brands are worried that their ads will reach irrelevant audiences, be associated with undesirable content, or develop a reputation for invading user privacy. 

Experts at WowYow have been trying to raise awareness about contextual data. Contextual data analyzes the content of the page and understands the context in which the advertisement will appear. Instead of relying on user data, which can raise privacy concerns and introduce brand safety risks, WowYow uses contextual data to ensure that advertisements are placed in relevant and appropriate contexts. Media companies are clamoring for alternative solutions to cookies, but WowYow has been using this technology since our inception. 

So if you’re interested in learning more about a reliable and successful alternative to 3rd party data, let us know!

3. The Disruption to On-Browsing Computing

Google’s new Privacy Sandbox will result in a “significant re-tooling of the programmatic advertising ecosystem,” according to the IAB. The IAB addresses the following issues forged from this new solution: addressability, reporting mechanisms, ad rendering processes, bidding decisioning capabilities, and scaling. This will make it extremely difficult for publishers and advertisers to innovate, and media companies will have to rely more on Google solutions. 

You can circumvent these issues by investing in an advertising solution that does not rely on Google’s browser for functionality. For example, WowYow inserts a tiny bit of code into a publisher’s site to be able to collect vital data while running interactive ads. This way, you’re relying on your own site rather than a browser that is still in the trial phases. 

4. The Failure to Address Commercial Requirements

The IAB indicates that Google's Privacy Sandbox initiative lacks support for contractual and commercial agreements that traditionally govern data usage and security in digital advertising, potentially leading to uncertainties and risks for web server operators and advertisers. Additionally, it hints at broader concerns related to fraud and security that may arise from transitioning away from server-to-server communication and legal contracts to browser-based APIs.

It’s all about scaling and transparency, which Google’s solution seems to be lacking. The uncertainty of this product creates an extremely risky infrastructure, but many media companies will still invest in it because they feel it’s their only option. As big names like Google and Amazon begin to monopolize the advertising space, publishers and advertisers will develop dangerous “financial dependencies” on them. This is especially disappointing for small publishers that don’t have as many legal resources.


In the end, we’re not saying you have to use WowYow’s advertising solutions; however, we are saying that it’s important to look at all your options and not rely on big brand names to guide your decisions. We always recommend you look into contextual advertising, as we feel it is the best alternative solution to cookies. You can learn more about contextual advertising here. 

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