The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority will investigate whether Google’s plan to disable third-party cookies on its Chrome browser would cause ad spend in the country to become even more concentrated in the advertising giant’s hands.

Why it matters: Brands and media owners have known for a year that major browsers would be phasing out cookies – which have never been much use in a mobile-first web, anyway – since January 2020, when Google announced it would be removing them from its dominant Chrome browser.

What to do: For most businesses, continuing to have a direct customer relationship will be vitally important to their future success. Brands and publishers should work out what the ‘value’ is within their value-exchange with customers and offer something unique.


  • Announced in a press release on Friday, the UK’s competition watchdog says it will investigate whether Google’s proposed ‘Privacy Sandbox’ will effectively hand the company even more market power and undermine publishers’ ability to generate revenue.
  • The CMA does acknowledge that third-party cookies are anything but perfect, despite their “fundamental role” in funding a free internet.
  • In a statement, the authority said it had “received complaints including from Marketers for an Open Web Limited, a group of newspaper publishers and technology companies, which allege that, through the proposals, Google is abusing its dominant position.”

Privacy versus fair competition: The issue boils down to the fact that Google’s new suite of features will probably provide a better, more private experience of the internet to users and more accurate targeting for advertisers. The problem is what it will do to a market already dominated by Google.

Google’s view: a spokesperson told Reuters that it welcomes involvement as it moves forward with its development.

CMA, Reuters, WARC