Google is quietly meeting with a select group of publishers each month to talk Privacy Sandbox tech


According to Digiday, Since March, Google has met with publishers to discuss the technologies it is creating as part of its Privacy Sandbox effort. About 20 publishers, some of them represent Comscore 50 media firms, met with Google advertising and Chrome executives.

“We are committed to open dialogue with publishers of all sizes as they develop strategies for the transition to a more privacy-centric web,” a Google spokesperson said.

Though some publishers have expressed interest in testing Google’s new technology, many of them believe the platform’s development and implementation timelines are “too aggressive,” according to Rob Beeler, the de facto leader of the fledgling publisher collective and founder of Beeler.Tech, which assists publishers in navigating the complex world of ad tech.

“It’s been clear in these meetings that publishers have had a lot of things to answer before they were on board with any of these solutions,” he told Digiday.

Google’s efforts to reinvent how digital advertisements function without third-party cookies have largely ignored publishers. This is despite the fact that they create and disseminate the information that makes up the open web, which Google and others claim they want to keep when the big move away from monitoring technologies takes place. Regular meetings between a limited group of top-tier publishing executives and Googlers are now being held in order to offer publishers a stronger voice in the debate.

Google and Beeler refused to name the publishers participating, and two of the group members Digiday spoke with for this storey declined to be identified. The discussions have been kept under wraps by Google and the publishers involved, in part because no one wants to anger smaller publishers who may feel left out of a process that already has most of them feeling marginalised. Participants in the new group were chosen because they are “in a position to have some influence when things are rolled out,” according to Beeler. Meetings with a larger group of individuals, he added, could become too unwieldy to be fruitful.

A more user-friendly forum than the clumsy W3C

Many industry insiders believe Google has too much control in the move away from third-party cookies and the development of new technology to replace them in a more privacy-conscious manner. The W3C, or Worldwide Web Consortium, is where the work that Google has made public took place. Engineers from corporations like Google, Facebook, and other ad tech firms haveh out complicated aspects of Privacy Sandbox tech development in jargon-filled web forums hosted by the international web standards group.

What is on the agenda — and what is not

So far, conversations have focused on technologies like FLoC — Google’s recently-tested but still-evolving cookieless ad targeting technology — and how it might effect publishers, such as in the creation of inventory packages. At the July meeting, a topic on the agenda was first-party sets, which would effect how domains owned by the same publisher are characterised in the context of data collection and use via web browsers like Google Chrome. However, the first half-hour was devoted to a discussion of Google’s sluggish adoption of Privacy Sandbox technology.

Even Nevertheless, several topics that could have a big impact on publishers are still relegated to engineer-only spaces. Participants at the new meetups, for example, said that changes to FLoC that Google is considering and that were just discussed at an engineering research event had yet to make it onto the agenda of the publisher meeting.