Despite industry angst over the impending demise of the cookie, the fact is that third-party data was never that reliable to begin with. These two factors have made publishers sit up and think about their data strategy.
Should they rely solely on first-party data? Or should they look to augment with second-party data? (Second-party data refers to another company’s first-party data from their own subscribers, app users, website visitors etc., but with personally identifying information removed.)
For those looking to enhance their first-party data by tapping into other sources, data clean rooms are proving an increasingly viable solution. In fact, over a third of publishers are more likely to use them than marketers (48% vs 37% respectively).
What’s more, in an attempt to dispel confusion over them, IAB Tech Lab has announced plans to release its first Clean Room Standards by the end of 2022.
But how can you tell which clean rooms provide the high-quality, privacy-compliant data you need to inform your most important ad ops or revenue decisions? How easy is it to invite your brand partners to collaborate? And can you actually activate your campaigns from within a data clean room?
Here are the main characteristics that you should look out for in a clean room:
1. End-to-end data management workflow
As anyone who uses any management software will know – from project management to data management or finance – there’s nothing more infuriating than having to log out of one system and into another to manage your workflow.
Therefore, having an end-to-end workflow in one place is crucial for efficient operations. Opt for a solution that gives you complete control of your workflow and has easy integrations with your existing data automation software.
2. Purpose-limited “rooms”
The whole idea of a clean room is to create a safe, secure, and purpose-limited environment for second-party data. What we mean by “purpose-limited” is that you only have access to the specific type of data you need, rather than a whole bunch of data that is likely irrelevant. For instance, you can open a clean room for targeting, or one for measurement, or perhaps attribution, and invite your trusted partners to access the (anonymized) data. In each case, the data gets specifically matched to your use case.
This is in the consumer’s interest, as they know that their data will only ever be shared for the purposes for which they have given explicit consent (according to legislation such as GDPR or CCPA). However, it also means that, as a publisher, you only get the data you really need to make informed decisions.
The problem with certain data clean rooms today is that all participants must subscribe to (i.e. be a customer of) that clean room. Naturally, this can limit opportunities to collaborate (or it requires unnecessary time/expense to set each party up as a fully-fledged customer of the data clean room).
For instance, as a publisher, you will likely be looking to collaborate with your brand advertisers on projects such as creating ad campaigns for targeting, or creating analysis matches for forecasting purposes. But at the same time, you don’t need the hassle of persuading them all to become a customer in order to join your clean room.
Therefore, interoperability is an important feature of a clean room and you should look for a provider that has an open data infrastructure, allowing you to invite your brand partners to collaborate at will.
Gaining access to relevant data, and collaborating with your partners, is half the battle. But what happens when it comes to activating your data for campaigns? The ability to easily integrate with programmatic and other ad delivery systems – for instance GAM, The Trade Desk or DV360 – is just as important as getting access to the data in the first place. Without this activation functionality, you’ll need to build your own integrations, requiring huge engineering resources.
Therefore, you should look for a clean room provider that allows you to connect to these pre-integrated platforms, activate your campaigns, and start targeting your audience. These activities should all occur directly from the clean room, without actually moving your data.
The best place to begin is with your own first-party data. But for many publishers, augmenting with second-party data can provide deeper insights into the target audience. As long as you partner with a data collaboration platform that includes interoperability and activation capabilities as standard, the process shouldn’t be as daunting as it might at first seem.
About the author
Navid Nassiri joined Switchboard as Head of Marketing in 2021. Switchboard’s data engineering automation platform aggregates disparate data at scale, reliably and in real-time, to make better business decisions. In his role at Switchboard, Navid is focused on driving growth and brand awareness through innovative marketing strategies. Navid is a seasoned entrepreneur and executive, including leadership roles at PwC and NBCUniversal.