If you’re a marketer and you are subscribed to any trade media, have attended conferences or participated in webinars within the last year, then you have likely heard the term ‘clean room’. A recent IAB study (State of Data 2023) indicates that the adoption of clean rooms has accelerated dramatically over the past two years (faster than any other identity-solution technology), and Gartner states that current users of clean rooms are expected to increase their spending on these initiatives by 29% this year.*
Despite the momentum behind clean rooms, the concept is not entirely clear to many marketers and certainly not the extent of the possibilities, the challenges and the considerations that are implicit in a clean room initiative.
Let’s start at the beginning: what is a clean room and why is it needed?
At the most basic level, a clean room is a secure, privacy-compliant environment that allows two or more parties to collaborate using their first-party data. This environment enables the parties to benefit from the insights and potential actions derived through the data collaboration while maintaining the privacy and control of those data. With key market dynamics such as disappearing third-party cookies, the deprecation of location signals for targeting, and tightening privacy regulations, clean rooms are an increasingly essential component of the marketing toolkit for leveraging first-party data.
More specifically, clean rooms provide key benefits to multiple stakeholders:
For Advertisers & Brands – The opportunity to leverage first-party, consent-based data assets in a privacy-preserving environment to find common customers and insights across organizations, identify and activate audiences in media platforms, and provide cross-channel measurement and attribution (including transactional lift).
For Agencies - More effective planning and audience targeting based on attributable media consumption and other behaviours, Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) measurement, and media/market mix modelling and optimization.
For Publishers & Media Owners – Monetization of their permissioned subscribers and media assets, the ability to scale audiences for Advertisers, and use of log/campaign files for media spend transparency and closed-loop attribution.
Truly, the outcomes that clean rooms can offer within today’s dynamic marketing ecosystem are significant. However, taking full advantage of such environments is not without its challenges. Organizations of all stripes – whether brands, agencies, publishers or other – need to be aware of several key considerations as they embark on their clean room journey, with particular attention as to whether they want to ‘build’ or ‘buy’ such services.
The marketing industry is at an inflection point, faced with strengthening privacy regulations, disappearing third-party cookies and the loss of location signals from mobile data. The emergence of clean rooms offers a practical and privacy-compliant opportunity for advertisers, publishers, agencies and media companies to collaborate. When done right, the potential is enormous – from audience enrichment to targeted campaign activation to transaction-based lift attribution. To make that potential a reality, marketers need to ensure they embark on their clean room journey with eyes wide open.
Evan Wood is EVP & Chief Strategy Officer at Environics Analytics (EA), overseeing practice teams for Consulting Services, Media & Agencies as well as Clean Room Services. Environics Analytics’ EAVault clean room is a secure, neutral and made-in-Canada solution that helps organizations leverage their first party data assets through collaboration, activation, measurement and attribution.
*Source: Gartner per Adweek 3/12/22