Brands use data clean rooms to create personalized experiences and improve marketing attribution, while still protecting customer privacy.
Aggregated consumer data can also help you make informed business decisions. However, setting up and managing a data clean room is not always straightforward.
We’re no stranger to them at Goodway, so we’re sharing everything you need to know — from basic foundation to the critical resources you need to get started. We’ll also highlight why more brands are looking to data clean rooms to improve their marketing, operations and more.
Table of Contents
- What Is a Data Clean Room?
- Why Are Data Clean Rooms Important?
- Benefits and Use Cases
- How Can Data Clean Rooms Help You?
- Clean Room Examples
- How Do You Get Started?
What Is a Data Clean Room?
Think of a data clean room as Switzerland. It’s a neutral environment where two parties can securely share and analyze data. Each party has full control of how, where and when to use it.
Clean room environments typically combine a brand’s first-party data with security tools and privacy-compliant data aggregated from the internet. User-level data goes into the clean room and aggregated insights come out in a commingled audience group called a cohort.
Brands can then securely match their first-party data with partner data. For example, you can connect your Amazon or Google data. Then, develop insights, identify new targeting opportunities and create efficiencies through audience segmentation.
Data Clean Room vs. Walled Gardens
You may also hear the term walled gardens in the context of data clean rooms. Walled gardens are digital areas where users can interact with a limited set of media or technology in a safe environment.
These digital areas are quarantined away from more sensitive data to protect them from malware or potential viruses. Walled gardens can also be where an unauthenticated user can set up an account. This allows them to leave the walled garden and enter the clean room properly.
Why Are Data Clean Rooms Important?
In recent years, Google, Facebook and other advertising platforms have removed certain audience targeting and measurement options due to new privacy laws.
More strict data laws and challenges to attribute marketing efforts across channels have made data clean rooms more important than ever.
Advertisers are exploring clean room strategies because of five main factors:
- An increased consumer focus on data privacy.
- The move towards privacy by design.
- Tightening data privacy regulations.
- The rising demand for data-driven insights.
- Better data governance and security.
Let’s look closer at why brands are adopting data clean rooms.
Changing Data Landscape
Authorities worldwide have been passing stricter data privacy regulations that affect how advertisers learn about and target customers. The three biggest impacts include:
- The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requires consent for advertisers to collect certain data.
- Apple’s iOS 14 update made it so that apps must ask users to opt-in and give permission for apps to track them.
- Google plans to phase out third-party cookies by 2024.
Here are some eye-opening statistics that further illustrate the increased focus on data privacy:
- Over 120 countries have implemented data protection laws. (Thales)
- 70% of Americans surveyed in 2019 believed their data was less secure than it was five years ago. (Pew Research)
- In a Cisco survey, a third (33%) of users have stopped using a social media platform over data privacy concerns. (Cisco)
Benefits and Use Cases of Data Clean Rooms
Even though a data clean room can help brands consolidate their data in one, secure platform, it’s not without challenges.
For most, data clean rooms are a fairly niche concept that hasn’t gone mainstream yet. In a recent survey, 60% of respondents said they didn’t understand data clean rooms.
For many companies, there’s an educational gap. Brands need to understand how a data clean room helps them achieve marketing and business outcomes before committing.
In the section below, we’ll show how brands are using data clean rooms and how they can benefit your business.
More Control Over Your Customer Data
In digital media measurement, event-level data is the bedrock of the most complex questions you want to answer. Clean rooms offer advertisers the best path to query media data — typically at the event or user level — and combine it with customer data in a privacy-safe way.
All data clean room platforms contain various privacy features to protect the anonymity of individual users. It also makes it so that the data is anonymous. To comply with privacy law, you can’t identify who a particular user is based on the data. This way, brands can analyze large audience data sets without compromising user identity.
Once you query the data, you can join and blend this data with your customer data however works best to answer the desired questions.
A Deeper Understanding of Media Performance
The most popular use of data clean rooms today is attribution. Brands use various media to market and advertise, often to the same potential customers. While they have the data, they can’t attribute media performance to it without compromising a user’s privacy.
The customer’s journey is complex and often involves multiple channels. With data clean rooms, marketers can understand how marketing is performing through:
- Cross-channel analysis
- Frequency analysis
- Channel overlap
- Path to conversion
It’s also possible to attribute offline conversions. In general, data clean rooms can help marketers answer questions like:
- What ad creative is performing best across platforms?
- Which channels are working well together?
- Do customers prefer a particular media?
Better Understand Who Your Customers Are
Brands can use data clean rooms to understand their ideal customers better. At Goodway, clean rooms like Google Ads Data Hub, Amazon Marketing Cloud and Meta Advanced Analytics add value as platforms because we can dive deeper into event-level data.
In other words, we can see what actions users take without compromising privacy or user identities.
Collaboration Between All Your Partners
Data clean rooms foster collaboration between brands. They can share their first-party data and other data while preserving privacy. Before this, the walled gardens provided by big tech were the only way to find and analyze data.
That said, over 41 percent of marketers say cost is one of the main hurdles to implementing data clean rooms. However, they take some data engineering weight off of your shoulders. Instead of needing to warehouse billions of rows of data, you can pull it from Google, Amazon, Meta and other data warehouses in a clean room.
How Can Data Clean Rooms Help You?
- Access premium data from partners.
- Discover rich insights about your customers.
- Understand audience overlaps with key publishers.
- Improve media ROAS.
- Unlock revenue potential.
- Increase the value of your audience with strategic partners.
- Maintain premium CPMs.
- Increase share of spend.
Data Clean Room Examples
Google has created its own walled garden clean room, Ads Data Hub. With it, businesses can access aggregated marketing data from Google products — Google Search, YouTube and DV360.
Amazon’s clean room, Amazon Marketing Cloud, also wields an incredible amount of consumer data. You can use AWS services without creating an account. You can also access aggregate consumer data from platforms like Twitch, Whole Foods and the Amazon Marketplace.
Disney also has a clean room powered by Disney Select. Advertisers can access aggregated audience and brand data from across its portfolio. Data partners can use it to access targetable audience segments too.
How Do You Get Started With Data Clean Rooms?
Before you begin planning your data clean room strategy, keep these major considerations in mind.
You Need Technical Expertise
Clean rooms such as Amazon Marketing Cloud or Google Ads Data Hub can be complex. These complexities offer users powerful tools and insights into their target audiences. With a wide variety of cohorts to analyze and choose from, diverse marketing strategies can be created to appeal to the audience that best suits the brand.
Each clean room has its own set of requirements and functionality. It takes time to organize and fortify data, perform analyses and get the log-level data and insights you need to act. You’ll need technical resources that understand complex data models and relationships between different identity spaces. Advanced SQL users, engineers, data analysts and clean room SMEs are often needed.
Some Data Is Limited
One potential downside to this level of complexity is that the aggregated data can only tell a company so much. Trends in consumer habits and spending can change abruptly depending on social issues, world events and the economy. This can have negative consequences on a marketing campaign that has been months in the making based on data that no longer reflects the present-day market.
Also, almost all walled garden clean rooms are “day forward.” Data will only be available from the day that you set up the instance. This means you want to set up your instance as early as possible to start gathering data.
Have an Intent
Don’t just decide to start working in clean rooms because you “need to” — what is the specific question you have only a data clean room can answer, or could best answer? This will help you determine what approach you should take and what clean room(s) to work with.
Once you’ve considered these factors, identify a hypothesis that can only be answered in a clean room. It’s best to start small — for example, with the walled garden you’re buying the most in. Work with that partner, whether it’s Google, Amazon, Meta, Roku or someone else, to set up a clean room instance.
Partner With an Agency That Knows Data Clean Rooms
Think of Goodway as your clean room liaison. We’re here to make navigating data and clean rooms easier. We have teams of strategists, engineers, advanced SQL users and data scientists to make sure you get the most value out of your data.
Data clean rooms open up the opportunity for brands to take control of their data. You can use it more effectively to improve campaigns, audience understanding and ROI. For more information, head over to our data clean room resource hub or get an assessment.
Alex Bloore is the VP of product and data at Goodway Group. He has 13+ years of experience in software and product leadership in many industries from medical software to PropTech to adtech and marketing. As a subject matter expert for data clean rooms and identity solutions, Alex has presented at various events including Programmatic I/O and been featured in publications such as AdExchanger. An executive leader of award-winning cross-functional product and data teams, he’s driven strategic technical innovation across Goodway Group’s diverse client base. Alex currently lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife and three sons.
Steven Urgo is a senior data insights analyst at Goodway Group. Steven got his start at Goodway over eight years ago as a campaign coordinator before moving into campaign management and media trader roles and then taking the leap into data insights. In his current role, he uses data to answer questions, solve problems and tell stories. Proficient in SQL, Steven is known for his expertise in taking a project from start to finish to present findings to end audiences that help them make data-driven decisions. You can find Steven contributing thought leadership about data strategy and related topics in publications like MediaPost. He lives in the Los Angeles area and is a graduate of Temple University.