Google's Investment In Data And Cleanrooms Reportedly Includes Snowflake

If there's one thing that I agree about with Bill Stratton -- media, entertainment and advertising head at Snowflake -- it's that the term "cleanroom" does not describe how data is shared in a privacy-compliant way. Perhaps the industry will come up with a different nomenclature in 2023 to more accurately describe the process.

Stratton has a long history in media. He worked at Turner Broadcasting/Time Warner once between 1996 and 2008 and then again in 2013 to 2018 as senior vice president of consumer data and analytics.

When the company released its most recent earnings on December 1, 2022, it reported $523 million in product revenue -- up 67% year-on-year. Today, Snowflake operates across 37 regional areas, expanding its footprint by more than 30%.

While Alphabet, Google’s parent company, offers cloud-computing, advertising, video business and more, it has also become an investor in publicly traded stocks and privately held start-ups. The Motley Fool reports that its “investment portfolio is worth nearly $2 billion and consists of 49 stocks primarily across tech and healthcare.”



Snowflake is one of those companies, reported The Motley Fool last week. In fact, Alphabet, at the time of writing this, owned 535,000 shares valued at roughly $91 million. Alphabet is not the only high-profile investor. Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway also owned shares at the time of writing this column.

Inside Performance (IP) spoke with Stratton to ask about predictions around cleanrooms -- which industries might see a spike in ad dollars even amidst an economic downturn -- and what it might mean for advertisers to have a renaissance in multi-measurement in cloud collaboration.

Inside Performance:  What is the biggest misunderstanding about cleanrooms and data collaboration?

Bill Stratton:  There’s not an actual room or separate environment. In our technology two companies can collaborate, but there’s not a physical room, so the vernacular is not appropriate, but it’s a term people use to describe it.

IP: What is a more accurate way to describe the concept of cleanrooms?

Stratton:  We have ways for companies to discover others willing to share data through our marketplace. Once you’re a customer, you can immediately start sharing data.

We have templates. We sit down with customers and describe our privacy-based technology that allows both collaborators to agree on how they will collaborate. The rules are repeated in the technology, so they collaborate based on the agreement.

IP: What does multi-measurement in cloud collaboration mean?

Stratton: There’s a lot more data to be people-based rather than panel-based, so the currency is evolving because companies are going direct-to-consumer when it comes to streaming. It’s promoting a lot of companies to move data to the cloud, which makes it easier to collaborate.

There’s more data on consumers who watch. The two trends combined provide better measurement, more accuracy, and improved marketing performance.

IP:  What industries are collaborating most with data?

Stratton: Retail companies are becoming media companies. They take the data about customers and use it to build a media revenue stream.

You see that with Kroger and 8451, which are growing on the foundation of privacy-compliant data. We will start to see that in other categories. As they move from a retail business into a media business, they need to collaborate with CPG partners.

IP: Any other predictions?

Stratton:  The technology to support data collaboration will get simpler. On one side, companies are getting more experience to know how they want to collaborate. Technology will become less of a friction point.

IP:  Do companies know how, not why, they want to collaborate?

Stratton: First and foremost, they want to protect consumer privacy. The next step is to create an audience-based marketing campaign to target the audience they want to reach. It involves the ability to segment the collaborate audience and target and activate against it. They are learning this now.


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