Amazon strikes pioneering deal with UK publisher in response to third-party cookie deprecation

Amazon has secured a landmark deal with Reach, the UK’s largest publisher, to access customer data for targeted advertising. The agreement, one of the first of its kind in Europe, comes in response to Google’s plans to deprecate third-party cookies later this year.

The agreement will see Reach share “contextual” first-party data with Amazon, such as information about the articles people are viewing. Amazon will then use this data to enhance targeted advertising on the U.K. publisher’s sites, providing advertisers with more relevant and effective advertising opportunities. Financial details have not been disclosed.

But Google ‘cannot proceed with third-party cookie deprecation.’ That’s the message from the U.K. government’s Competition and Markets Authority. The search engine needs to do more to address issues raised around its proposed Privacy Sandbox changes or else it will not be able to deprecate third-party cookies from Chrome in the second half of 2024 as planned — in the U.K., at least.

CMA report. The CMA published a report detailing its ongoing competition concerns regarding Google’s Privacy Sandbox, including:

Google may continue to benefit from user activity data while limiting competitors’ access to the same data.
Google’s ability to control the inclusion of ad tech rivals on this list could advantage its adtech services.
Publishers and advertisers may be less able to effectively identify fraudulent activity.

The CMA is working with Google to resolve these issues and will report on each engine’s progress in its next quarterly update, which is due at the end of April.

Amazon on the Reach deal. “As the industry shifts towards an environment where cookies are not available, first party contextual signals are critical in helping us develop actionable insights that enable our advertisers to reach relevant audiences without sacrificing reach, relevancy or ad performance,” Frazer Locke, Amazon Ads director of EU adtech sales, told the Financial Times.

Why we care. Years into the goodbye cookies saga, major players are still not on the same page. What seems like a coup for Amazon’s advertising business collides in the same news cycle with more obstacles (this time not self-imposed) to the death of cookies. How about those 300 million global users Google already permitted to disable Chrome cookies. Any of them in the U.K.?

As the U.K. competition authority casts a suspicious eye over a market in which Google Topics pushes to replace cookies for targeted ad purposes, Amazon jumps feet first into publisher first-party data as the alternative. There’s a long way to go.

Additional reporting by Kim Davis

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