Microsoft unveils Privacy-Centric Ad Selection API for Edge Browser

Microsoft unveils Privacy-Centric Ad Selection API for Edge Browser
Test Third Party Cookie Phaseout flag

The Microsoft Edge team yesterday announced the development of the Ad Selection API, a new way for advertisers and publishers to deliver relevant ads without compromising user privacy. This API aims to replace the use of third-party cookies as browsers continue their move towards enhanced online privacy standards.

Protecting Privacy in a Changing Landscape

While third-party cookies have been useful for enabling personalized online experiences and supporting ad-funded models, they also raise privacy concerns. Microsoft Edge, already equipped with Tracking Prevention and other security features, is taking the next step toward greater user control over their online data.

How the Ad Selection API Works

The Ad Selection API prioritizes privacy protections through:

  • K-Anonymity Constraints: Ensuring that user data remains part of a larger group, preventing individual identification.
  • Differential Privacy: Adding carefully calculated noise to datasets to obscure individual information.
  • Trusted Execution Environments (TEEs): Allowing for the processing of sensitive data without direct observation.

The Road to Third-Party Cookie Deprecation

Microsoft Edge will begin experimenting with third-party cookie removal for a small percentage of non-managed device users in the coming months and throughout 2024. This measured rollout will help assess the overall impact on the web ecosystem.

Call for Industry Testing

Microsoft is eager for advertisers, publishers, and web developers to test the Ad Selection API. Wide adoption is crucial for identifying areas for improvement and ensuring a successful transition. Testing is anticipated to begin in the second half of 2024.

How to Test Now

Web developers can proactively prepare for third-party cookie deprecation by enabling the 'Test Third Party Cookie Phaseout' flag in Microsoft Edge (edge://flags/#test-third-party-cookie-phaseout).

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