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Google pushes back FLoC testing to Q1 2022

Google’s monthly Privacy Sandbox timeline update indicates that the company will push back FLoC testing from Q4 2021 (announced in July) to Q1 2022. Testing of FLEDGE, the company’s remarketing solution designed so that third parties cannot track user behavior across sites, is being delayed to Q1 2022 as well.

The Privacy Sandbox timeline, as of October 1, 2021.

The “Discussion” period, originally set to end in Q3 2021, in which “technologies and their prototypes are discussed in forums such as GitHub or W3C groups,” has been extended through to the end of Q4 2021. This also has an impact on when testing is estimated to end, pushing that back from the end of Q2 to the end of Q3 2022.

Additionally, testing for the APIs that fall under the “measure digital ads” category have also been delayed to Q1 2022.

Why we care

These changes may affect when Chrome will phase out support for third-party cookies. Google has eliminated the “Ready for adoption” stage from the FLoC and FLEDGE parts of the timeline and another delay may mean a shorter testing period or that Google will have to push back its planned Stage 1 period (the green column in the table above, expected to last from Q4 2022 through to the end of Q2 2023). At some point during Stage 1, the company will announce a new timeline that lowers third-party cookies’ “Time to Live”.

More about the Privacy Sandbox timeline

The timeline divides initiatives into four categories (“fight spam and fraud on the web,” “show relevant content and ads,” “measure digital ads,” and “strengthen cross-site privacy boundaries”). APIs shown on the timeline are based on Google’s current expectations and are subject to change. The timeline will be updated monthly.The phases indicated on the timeline are as follows:

  • Discussion – The technologies and their prototypes are discussed in forums such as GitHub or W3C groups.
  • Testing – All technologies for the use case are available for developers to test and may be refined based on results.
  • Ready for adoption – Once the development process is complete, the successful technologies are ready to be used at scale. They will be launched in Chrome and ready for scaled use across the web.
  • Transition period: Stage 1 – APIs for each use case are available for adoption. Chrome will monitor adoption and feedback carefully before moving to next stage.
  • Transition period: Stage 2 – Chrome will phase out support for third-party cookies over a three-month period finishing in late 2023.

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