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Microsoft Unveils Ad Selection API for Edge to Preserve Privacy While Supporting Ads

Microsoft ditches third-party cookies in Edge browser, introduces privacy-focused Ad Selection API to deliver relevant ads without user tracking.


Microsoft has announced the development of an Ad Selection API designed for its Microsoft Edge browser, signaling a significant shift in the web advertising landscape. The core objective of this API is to facilitate the delivery of relevant advertisements to users without employing third-party cookies or any form of cross-site tracking mechanisms. This initiative arises in response to the growing industry-wide movement towards phasing out third-party cookies, which have been a cornerstone of digital advertising but raise substantial privacy concerns.

Strategic Shift Away from Third-Party Cookies

Microsoft’s strategy to deprecate third-party cookies in Edge marks a pivotal advancement in user privacy protection. The company indicates that it will begin testing the effects of removing third-party cookies by targeting a small segment of non-managed device users, less than 1%, with gradual expansion through 2024. This move aligns with the broader industry trend, with significant players like Mozilla and Apple already taking steps to eliminate third-party cookies in their respective browsers, Firefox and Safari.

The Ad Selection API is regarded as a direct responder to the privacy challenges posed by traditional cookie-based ad targeting. Its compatibility with Google’s Protected Audiences API notwithstanding, Microsoft’s solution aims to offer a more balanced approach concerning content quality and innovation in the advertising sector. A distinctive feature of the Ad Selection API lies in its implementation of differential privacy and k-anonymity, principles designed to enhance user privacy. Furthermore, it emphasizes the role of ad technology companies in achieving operational excellence without relying on shared services, thus mitigating single points of failure.

Preparing for a New Era of Digital Advertising

In preparation for a post-third-party cookie era, Microsoft is encouraging commercial customers to begin testing their public and internal websites for compatibility with the upcoming changes. The introduction of the Ad Selection API is a forward-thinking approach that allows for the continuation of ad-supported content in a manner that respects user privacy and choice. This development is part of a broader industry effort to find sustainable advertising models that do not compromise on privacy standards.

In summary, Microsoft’s initiative to roll out the Ad Selection API within the Edge browser is a proactive step towards addressing the dual challenges of maintaining ad-supported content and enhancing user privacy. As the digital landscape evolves, it remains to be seen how advertisers and publishers will adapt to these changes and how users will benefit from a more privacy-conscious browsing experience.

Luke Jones
Luke Jones
Luke has been writing about all things tech for more than five years. He is following Microsoft closely to bring you the latest news about Windows, Office, Azure, Skype, HoloLens and all the rest of their products.