Google Brand Strategy Third-party Cookies

German publishers raise new opposition to Google’s third-party cookie plans


By Chris Sutcliffe, Senior reporter

January 24, 2022 | 4 min read

Ahead of Google’s retirement of the third-party cookie, a number of German advertisers and publishers have raised a complaint with the EU. They allege that the search giant phasing out third-party cookies is in breach of EU law and strengthens Google’s position at the expense of their own.


The complaint joins a long list of arguments between publishers and Google

The group, which includes publishing houses such as Axel Springer, argues that the retirement of the third-party cookie puts publishers and advertisers at a disadvantage when it comes to analyzing user preferences, which reduces their ability to do effective targeted advertising. Previous arguments against the retirement of the third-party cookie have also implied that the move only shores up Google’s status as the sole provider of that information to advertisers.

It comes as a number of trade and publisher groups globally redouble their efforts to reduce the power of the duopoly. While arguments have been made that this allows publishers to trade more effectively on their own first-party data, which strengthens their own position with advertisers, Google has been accused of monopolistic practises that negate that advantage.

A report by the UK’s competition watchdog advised that UK publishers with a digital focus risked revenue losses of up to 70% as a result of the cookie retirement. The move itself has been delayed multiple times by almost two years as Google negotiates with regulators. It has stated the delay has been done to avoid jeopardizing the viability of online publishers to monetize audiences.

The relationship between the EU and Google has been fractious, with the body seeking to both curb the power of the search giant and to ensure publishers in its member countries are not victims of any monopolistic practices. In November, German publishers signed the first deals with Google regarding copyrighted content, an extension of similar deals reached in France and other countries. Additionally, the EU is still running an investigation into how Google collects data, which began back in 2019.

It also comes on the heels of accusations that Google colluded with Facebook to muscle out rival ad exchanges, which gained the ire of US regulators.

Google has subsequently been on a charm offensive, with social media campaigns aimed at getting its point across to EU lawmakers. It is doubling down on the fact that the cookie changes are at least nominally in favor of greater user privacy – a point of view that enjoys support from the public, who are increasingly concerned about the use of their data online.

The new complaint joins a long list of ongoing investigations and arguments about the role Google plays in the relationship between publisher and the public, and will certainly not be the last one raised. The stricter line the EU is taking with Google on behalf of its publishers is in line with other attitudes taken by countries including the US and Australia.

Google Brand Strategy Third-party Cookies

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