Here we go again: Yesterday, Google announced that it will expand the testing window of its Privacy Sandbox APIs and delay its deprecation of third-party cookies until the end of 2024. Like last time, the company cited feedback from the industry for “the need for more time to evaluate and test the new Privacy Sandbox technologies.”

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, data deprecation is bigger than Google’s actions alone, and it’s already happening. Apple, Safari, and other browsers have already phased out third-party cookies and launched other privacy-protecting features. New privacy bills continue to move through the legislative process. Tech companies, retailers, and platforms continue to build new walled gardens. And consumers continue to take measures to protect their privacy. Regardless of when Google finally kills support for third-party cookies, if you’re not planning to manage these forces now, you’re already behind.

Unlike Google’s third-party cookie deprecation schedule, our advice for data deprecation planning remains steady:

  • Take the time now to test different targeting approaches. Don’t fall into the trap of assuming that “identity” is a panacea — you’re going to need a multilayered targeting strategy in the future. Now is the time to see how alternative targeting mechanisms perform against traditional cookie-based approaches. Granular measurement will only become harder as data deprecation marches on, so take advantage of the window of time you have now to test different targeting approaches against current benchmarks and determine which are both sustainable in the era of data deprecation and perform well.
  • Embrace new campaign performance measurement approaches. The changing advertising ecosystem has long called for new campaign measurement approaches that do not rely on third-party cookies. Abandon cookie-based measurement models and use test-and-control experiments to measure incremental effectiveness of ads. Additional campaign measurement methods like impression-based campaign performance models, panel-based measurement approaches, cohort-based measurement, machine learning models, and using data clean rooms all provide suitable alternatives to measure campaigns.
  • Focus on zero- and first-party data collection. Go straight to the source and ask consumers to volunteer information about themselves. In order to entice them to share this information, there needs to be a benefit for them — so think through what the appropriate value exchange is and how you’ll ask for zero- and first-party data in a way that is user-friendly and transparent.

The days of hypertargeting are numbered — whether because of moves from Apple, lawmakers and regulators, or consumers themselves. Marketers should consider Google’s announcement a brief reprieve at best, because maintaining the status quo is not an option. If you want to talk about your data deprecation mitigation plan, schedule a guidance session.