How Times Internet used Related Website Sets to reduce their reliance on third-party cookies

Times Internet Limited is India's largest digital products company, with over 500 million monthly users. Its products include major publications across over 20 domains such as Times of India, Economic Times, Navbharat Times, and Cricbuzz, which are market leaders in their respective categories.

For a long time, third-party cookies have played an important role for Times Internet websites, enabling user authentication across their different sites, as well as serving personalized news and videos to audiences.

With third-party cookie restrictions on the horizon, Times Internet faces the challenge of balancing their existing user experience with adapting to new technologies that improve user privacy.

Read on to find out how they have adopted Related Website Sets (RWS) to provide a measured approach to cross-site data sharing, preserving valuable user experiences and Times's ability to understand cross-site user journeys within a well-defined, privacy-conscious framework.

The first step towards reducing reliance on third-party cookies is identifying exactly where and what those cookies are used for. With over 20 domains that are a part of Times Internet, assessing potential breakage due to third-party cookies which could disrupt key functionalities required careful analysis.

Times Internet used the Privacy Sandbox Analysis Tool(PSAT), a DevTools extension to facilitate analysis of cookie usage during browsing sessions. The PSAT extension complements DevTools with specialized capabilities for analyzing and debugging scenarios related to the deprecation of third-party cookies.

Privacy Sandbox Analysis Tool (PSAT) screenshot showing the number and types of cookies used in a modal and the list of cookies behind that with the reason they are blocked.
Privacy Sandbox Analysis Tool (PSAT)

Another important step that Times Internet took was testing user journeys and site features with third-party cookies disabled in Chrome. They also tested the same flows in other browsers which have third-party cookie restrictions.

To learn more about testing for third-party cookie deprecation impact in Chrome, check out Test for breakage.

Third-party cookies are used across Times Internet sites to serve personalized content, analyze site traffic, and understand where the audience is coming from in order to improve the user experience. With third-party cookie restrictions in place, the quality of their services would suffer.

One of the solutions Times Internet considered was to require all users to sign in to access content. However, earlier experiments had shown that this approach led to high bounce rates, so finding an alternative was imperative.

The solution was to implement Related Website Sets as a way to enable limited cross-site cookie access between a small group of related domains.

A Related Website Set is a collection of domains, for which there is a single "set primary" and potentially multiple "set members" that are permitted to share some cookies across domains in the set with privacy controls in place. There are three types of subset that RWS currently supports:

  • Associated: Domains whose affiliation with the set primary is clearly presented to users.
  • Service: Domains that serve another set member to support functionality or security needs.
  • ccTLD (country code top-level domain) variants for the Associated and Service subsets are also supported.

To help prevent misuse of subsets, each subset type has certain requirements. Associated sites subset allows associating up to five domains to the primary. The number of domains that can be associated using a service set or a ccTLD is unlimited, as long as those domains match the requirements.

As early adopters, Times Internet spent a lot of time planning and having discussions with the Google team, as well as providing feedback over GitHub which helped shape the current design of RWS. The associated sites subset started with a limit of one primary and three related domains, and as a result of engagement with early adopters and strong focus on incorporating feedback from companies such as Times Internet, the limit has been changed to five related sites.

Even so, Times Internet encompasses more than twenty domains, so they had to be strategic in forming their Related Website Set.

      "contact": "",
      "primary": "",
      "associatedSites": [
      "serviceSites": [
      "rationaleBySite": {
         "": " is primary domain for Times Internet which publish stories on Indian Lifestyle, Culture, Relationships, Food, Travel, Entertainment, News and New Technology News. The connection to Times Internet Limited is reflected in the About Us Section and the footer of the website.",
        "": "Times of India (TOI) is Indias largest and most influential news publisher in English. Its digital platform is powered by Times Internet Limited, aptly represented in the About Us section and footer of the website.",
        "": "Economic Times is India's top business news platform, providing comprehensive coverage of the economy, stock markets, and personal finance to inspire and empower business leaders and entrepreneurs. This digital platform is powered by Times Internet Limited as is clear from the About Us section of the website.",
        "": "Samayam is a Regional News publisher powered by Times Internet Limited. Its relationship to Times Internet is reflected in the footer of the website.",
        "": "Cricbuzz is an Indian cricket news & live score platform owned by Times Internet Limited which is aptly reflected in the footer on the website.",
        "": "GrowthRx is a customer engagement platform powered by Times Internet",
        "": "This is a times-internet data and customer management platform for managing publisher data.",
        "": "TVID is an in-house video management platform powered by Times Internet"

There were websites that were not part of the set which had significant traffic, so Times Internet had to decide whether to move these sites under subdomains or keep them independent.

All of this did require changes in the product roadmap and resource allocation for implementation. RWS submission itself was seamless, and it was handled by the respective teams within a week.

The Times Internet example shows how early participation in the adoption of new technologies and active engagement in the community can help shape the web to better serve both users and developers.


Times Internet exemplifies how large-scale digital publishers can successfully navigate the changing landscape of online privacy.

Through a combination of proactive testing, strategic adoption of Privacy Sandbox technologies, and collaborative engagement through API proposal lifecycles, they've succeeded in adapting to a more privacy-centric internet without compromising on critical functionalities.

We'll be following up on this case study with further information about how Times Internet continues to transition away from third-party cookies.