Many partners have asked OpenX to share its reaction to Google’s May 7th announcement about Chrome UI changes. We provide the following summary as a starting point for updates on this topic as we expect Google’s implementation to become more clear in the coming months.

Our summary of what Google announced

Changes to Chrome were presented as an effort to provide users increased transparency about how cookies are used and to reduce cookie-based tracking to provide greater user privacy.

The announcement pointed to how visited websites should set and use cookies, outlined forthcoming default Chrome features designed to block browser fingerprinting technology used for non-transparent tracking, and improved Chrome user controls for managing cookies.

Google covered publisher controls for setting and using cookies, and specifically cross-site cookies.

What these changes mean to the Programmatic Ecosystem

OpenX supports providing consumers with more control over how their data is collected and shared by any technology – and we believe such changes will ultimately be good for the programmatic ecosystem. With browsers, cookies are useful data sharing vehicles for users in two ways: First, publishers’ “first party” cookies enable a user to remain logged in to a chosen site in a manner that enables the storage of their site preferences. Second, first and third party cookies make it easier to deliver more relevant and timely content or advertising. Google is especially focused on adding stronger controls for both consumers and publishers in the latter area.

Google has indicated that in coming months Chrome will require publishers explicitly allow first party tracking cookies to be used across websites by opting into the SameSite cookie attribute. When respected by the browser, SameSite prevents sharing of a cookie when it receives a cross-site request. By making SameSite a default feature of Chrome, cross-site tracking will be prevented without a publishers’ opt-in.

Consumers, in turn, will be able to more easily distinguish between first party cookies that store login and preference management capabilities that many users want activated to personalize their content experience, and other cookies. It is safe to say that current levels of tracking will be hindered by Google’s proposed changes and a publisher’s overall effort around setting and managing cookies will increase. However, we believe it is likely these changes will not be implemented without providing marketers and publishers time to ensure opt-ins.

How this impacts OpenX product and services

Just prior to the Google Chrome announcement, we announced OpenAudience™, a 100% people-based solution for marketer and publisher audience management across the open web. OpenAudience will help our partners adapt to changes in Chrome and earlier changes to the Safari browser by reducing reliance on cookies as the primary user identity in programmatic advertising. We will do this by providing privacy compliant identities specific to participating publishers and demand partners that we match to available browser cookies, mobile devices and other touch points – all powered by a proprietary database designed to respect publisher permissions and user opt-ins or opt-outs. In turn, OpenX will return permitted cross-domain targeting specs for a user. Because OpenAudience is implemented as a publisher controlled and portable identity solution, we believe our partners will be less ‘locked in’ to transient identifiers like cookies.

We are more bullish than ever about the future of programmatic advertising. We invite you to learn more about OpenAudience and our approach to providing a superior identity solution for the open web.