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Digiday+ Research: Publishers and ad execs grow cynical of third-party cookie depreciation

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There’s a cliche expression that perfectly encapsulates how the ad industry is now viewing their faith in Google’s ability to replace third-party cookies: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. 

It’s safe to say that the second delay to Google’s long-gestating plan hasn’t gone down well with large swathes of the industry. Simply put, there’s a growing cynicism toward any progress ever being made. 

That’s according to Digiday+ Research, which surveyed 79 agency and brand marketers as well as a further 52 publisher executives just days after Google told the industry last month that third-party cookies would be available in its Chrome browser until 2024. That’s the second delay in a little over a year. 

Before we dig into the numbers, here’s a recap on why ad execs are in such a tizzy: Back in 2020, Google issued a death warrant for third-party cookies — the software marketers use to track someone’s online activity and tailor ads specifically to them. It set in motion a plan to purge them from Chrome by 2022. Clearly, that hasn’t happened. In fact, not much has happened at all since then. Sure, there’s a vague outline of alternatives to replace cookies — some of which are even being tested — but there’s a long way to go before any of those are even remotely scalable. It turns out getting rid of third-party cookies was easier said than done. 

Is Google for real this time? It’s the hope that gets you

For all the false dawns so far, there are still some marketers who harbor hopes of better times ahead. Of the agency and brand execs surveyed, more than four in ten (43%) said they believe that third-party cookies will start being phased out in 2024, per Google’s update. There’s enough time between now and then, goes the thinking, to make some real headway in the search for what comes after third-party cookies in Chrome.

And they may have a point: Tests of solutions in the Privacy Sandbox — Google’s gaggle of alternatives to third-party cookies — are already being ramped up to make use of the extra wiggle room. But with that said, there’s still a notable dose of cynicism around these efforts. So much so that more than a third (35%) of those agency and brand execs surveyed by Digiday believe Google will move the goalposts back again to 2025 or even later. Some 9% are so apathetic that they don’t think third-party cookies will ever go away. 

Publishers have become deeply cynical

Nearly half (48%) of the 52 publisher execs who were surveyed said they expect third-party cookies to continue to be used in the Chrome browser until 2025 or later. A quarter of them take Google at its (latest) word and believe the purge will happen in 2024. Meanwhile, more than 10% believe third-party cookies will never go away. 

It’s not hard to see why publishers are more cynical than ever. Many of them are acutely aware of the fact that the third-party tracking industrial complex (which includes third-party cookies) is hurting them due to data leakage, lost revenue to ad tech vendors and even disintermediation. Third-party cookies have created a multitude of ways for publishers to lose value.

At the same time, those losses have essentially become the cost they have to bear for being able to sell their audiences at scale. In other words, they’re caught in the programmatic machine — and can’t get out. No wonder publishers have a hard time believing that the rest of the market really wants to scrap this way of working.

Publishers, agencies and advertisers alike agree that Apple is the winner in all of this

More than a fifth of the publishers surveyed believe the iPhone manufacturer stands to gain a lot from the end of third-party cookies in Chrome (whenever that is). The same percentage of agency execs and brand respondents agreed — no surprise there. Apple has been blocking more and more cookies since 2017 when the company launched its Intelligent Tracking Protection initiative. The longer Google takes to get rid of cookies, the better Apple looks. And even if Google does eventually get rid of them it could potentially leave its ad business in a weaker position, just as Apple’s own play for ad dollars starts to gain traction. 

There’s also agreement between both groups on how screwed ad tech vendors will be, if and when third-party cookies go away in Chrome. Both publishers (37%) as well as agency and brand execs (44%) believe those businesses will lose a lot in this instance. A lot of the money these companies make on the back of the ad dollars flowing through their platforms comes from data derived from cookies. If they go, then it throws the business out of whack. That could change, of course. Indeed, the latest delay is a lifeline of sorts to those businesses in so far as it gives them more time to find alternatives to those cookies. Whether or not they can is another question entirely. 

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Nothing announces official launch date for new Ear (stick) AirPods alternatives

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Nothing announces official launch date for new Ear (stick) AirPods alternatives
Nothing Ear (stick) held by a model on white background



(Image credit: Nothing )

True to form, Nothing has just announced the full reveal date for its upcoming audio product, Ear (stick). 

So, an announcement about an announcement. You’ve got to hand it to Carl Pei’s marketing department, they never miss a trick.

What we’re saying is that although we still have ‘nothing’ conclusive about the features, pricing or release date for the Ear (stick) except an image of another model holding them (and we’ve seen plenty of those traipsing down the catwalk recently), we do have a date – the day when we’ll be granted official access to this information. 

That day is October 26. Nothing assures us that on this day we’ll be able to find out everything, including pricing and product specifications, during the online Ear (stick) Reveal, at 3PM BST (which is 10AM ET, or 1AM on Wednesday if you’re in Sydney, Australia) on nothing.tech (opens in new tab)

Any further information? A little. Nothing calls the Ear (stick), which is now the product’s official name, “the next generation of Nothing sound technology”, and its “most advanced audio product yet”. 

But that’s not all! Apparently, Ear (stick) are “half in-ear true wireless earbuds that balance supreme comfort with exceptional sound, made not to be felt when in use. They’re feather-light with an ergonomic design that’s moulded to your ears. Delivered in a unique charging case, inspired by classic cosmetic silhouettes, and compactly formed to simply glide into pockets.” 

Opinion: I need more than a lipstick-style case

Nothing Ear (stick) – official leaked renders pic.twitter.com/FrhKmRttmiOctober 1, 2022

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It’s no secret that I want Nothing’s earbuds to succeed in world dominated by AirPods; who doesn’t love a plucky, eccentric underdog? 

But in order to become some of the best true wireless earbuds on the market, there is room for improvement over the Nothing Ear 1, the company’s inaugural earbuds. 

Aside from this official ‘news’ from Nothing, leaked images and videos of the Ear (stick) have been springing up all over the internet (thank you, developer Kuba Wojciechowski) and they depict earbuds that look largely unchanged, which is a shame. 

For me, the focus needs to shift from gimmicks such as a cylindrical case with a red section at the end which twists up like a lipstick. Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of theater, but only if the sound coming from the earbuds themselves is top dog. 

As the natural companions for the Nothing Phone 1, it makes sense for the Ear (stick) to take a place similar to that of Apple’s AirPods 3, where the flagship Ear (1) sit alongside the AirPods Pro 2 as a flagship offering. 

See, that lipstick case shape likely will not support wireless charging. That and the rumored lack of ANC means the Ear (stick) is probably arriving as the more affordable option in Nothing’s ouevre. 

For now, we sit tight until October 26. 

Becky is a senior staff writer at TechRadar (which she has been assured refers to expertise rather than age) focusing on all things audio. Before joining the team, she spent three years at What Hi-Fi? testing and reviewing everything from wallet-friendly wireless earbuds to huge high-end sound systems. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, Becky freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 22-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance starts with a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo and The Stage. When not writing, she can still be found throwing shapes in a dance studio, these days with varying degrees of success.  

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YouTube could make 4K videos exclusive to Premium subscribers

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YouTube could make 4K videos exclusive to Premium subscribers
Woman watching YouTube on mobile phone screen



(Image credit: Shutterstock / Kicking Studio)

You might soon have to buy YouTube Premium to watch 4K YouTube videos, a new user test suggests.

According to a Reddit thread (opens in new tab) highlighted on Twitter by leaker Alvin (opens in new tab), several non-Premium YouTube users have reported seeing 4K resolution (and higher) video options limited to YouTube Premium subscribers on their iOS devices. For these individuals, videos are currently only available to stream in up to 1440p (QHD) resolution.

The apparent experiment only seems to be affecting a handful of YouTube users for now, but it suggests owner Google is toying with the idea of implementing a site-wide paywall for access to high-quality video in the future.

So, after testing up to 12 ads on YouTube for non-Premium users, now some users reported that they also have to get a Premium account just to watch videos in 4K. pic.twitter.com/jJodoAxeDpOctober 1, 2022

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It’s no secret that Google has been searching for new ways to monetize its YouTube platform in recent months. In September, the company introduced five unskippable ads for some YouTube users as part of a separate test – an unexpected development that, naturally, didn’t go down well with much of the YouTube community. 

A resolution paywall seems a more palatable approach from Google. While annoying, the change isn’t likely to provoke the same level of ire from non-paying YouTube users as excessive ads, given that many smartphones still max out at QHD resolution anyway. 

Of course, if it encourages those who do care about high-resolution viewing to invest in the platform’s Premium subscription package, it may also be more lucrative for Google. After all, YouTube Premium, which offers ad-free viewing, background playback and the ability to download videos for offline use, currently costs $11.99 / £11.99 / AU$14.99 per month.

Suffice to say, the subscription service hasn’t taken off in quite the way Google would’ve hoped since its launch in 2014. Only around 50 million users are currently signed up to YouTube Premium, while something close to 2 billion people actively use YouTube on a monthly basis. 

Might the addition of 4K video into Premium’s perk package bump up that number? Only time will tell. We’ll be keeping an eye on our own YouTube account to see whether this resolution paywall becomes permanent in the coming months.

Axel is a London-based staff writer at TechRadar, reporting on everything from the newest movies to latest Apple developments as part of the site’s daily news output. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and his coverage extends from general reporting and analysis to in-depth interviews and opinion. 

Axel studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick before joining TechRadar in 2020, where he then earned a gold standard NCTJ qualification as part of the company’s inaugural digital training scheme. 

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Europe sets deadline for USB-C charging for (almost) all laptops

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Europe sets deadline for USB-C charging for (almost) all laptops

USB-C als Ladestandard in der EU

Mundissima / Shutterstock


Author: Michael Crider
, Staff Writer

Michael is a former graphic designer who’s been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

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