Data Privacy & Protection Redux — The Rise of Data Clean Rooms

We recently published an article about how Google is leading the charge on data privacy. One of the ways the tech giant is reshaping the state of privacy and protection is through “data clean rooms” which are rising in popularity with sophisticated marketers in a post-GDPR world. If this is sounding unfamiliar, let Norbella provide an overview.

What Data Clean Rooms Are

The concept of “clean rooms” is taken from the microchip industry where there are tight controls over environmental factors like air quality, temperature and humidity during the manufacturing process to maintain quality and avoid contamination.

Applied to data, a data clean room is a safe environment that allow “walled gardens” like Google, Facebook or Amazon to match their audience data with brands’ 1st party data while maintaining strict controls for privacy and protection.

While not always a physical room like microchip manufacturers have, a data clean room is a shared computing environment where two parties can match data sets based on a “key” or common variable but maintain control over their data sets to avoid exposing protected data such as personally identifiable information (PII). The matched data set can be used for activation, cross-channel campaign measurement or attribution modeling.

Google has launched Ads Data Hub which is a data clean room service that allows to match their customer data with event level ad campaign data. Amazon also has a closed beta to test a clean room that would allow them to share more data with marketers to help them improve campaign performance measurement.

How Data Clean Rooms Work

Once two companies decide to pursue a clean room for data sharing, the process will usually work as follows:

1. Marketing company loads a new computer (laptop, tablet) without wifi access/not able to access the web with its first party data

2. Media company (Facebook, Google, Amazon) loads a new computer without wifi access/not able to access the web with campaign data with non-personally identifiable (PII) information for the marketer’s campaign

3. The media company’s data is combined with the marketer’s 1st party data, matches are made based on common keys, and the data is analyzed to extract aggregated insights from both data sets in a 1 + 1 = 3 fashion.

Why Should You Care

Although federal legislation is pending, data privacy and protection is imperative for marketers and we recommend our clients learn as much as they can about these issues. However, there is also enormous value in data that does not contain PII for both marketers and media companies. Also, “walled gardens” being more willing to share more data with marketers will only create more symbiotic partnerships. Data clean rooms provide a potential solution to address not only data sharing but also data protection responsibilities.

Currently, the giant marketers like Procter & Gamble and Unilever are pursuing data clean rooms with Google and Facebook as they have the largest data sets and most clout. However, Amazon is a data company (Amazon Web Services represents more than half of Amazon’s revenue) and e-commerce companies would love to leverage its data to generate insights to drive their business.

Be prepared to hear more about data clean rooms in the future.

Bob Deininger is the Vice President of Digital Media & Analytics at Norbella. He directs client engagement and oversees the team that manages digital channels encompassing display/programmatic, social, mobile, video, SEM and analytics. In his free time, Bob is an amateur ornithologist, maritime historian, and a grateful dad.

Ongoing questions & confessions of a modern-day media agency.

Ongoing questions & confessions of a modern-day media agency.