Behind Brands' Focus On Clean Rooms, Interoperability, Identity Strategies

A recent survey of data decision-makers at brands, agencies and publishers for the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) underscored that data clean rooms (DCRs) have become essential for audience insights, measurement and data activation in a cookie-less media environment that’s being enhanced, but also complicated, by data-driven options including addressable TV and walled-garden streaming services and retail media networks (RMNs).   

But the research also found that the costs can be prohibitive for smaller players. And among companies already using DCRs, the most-cited challenge (39%) was data interoperability and customization challenges. 

Meanwhile, brands are working on foundational, underlying identity structures that can enable interoperability across authenticated, cohort and contextual solutions, as well as seamless participation within clean rooms. 

Advanced TV Insider asked Travis Clinger, senior vice president of activations and addressability at data collaboration platform LiveRamp, about what’s driving the priority focus on identity solutions and DCR interoperability, and how marketers and publishers can help ensure successful solutions. 



“Clean-room interoperability” sounds pretty esoteric. Can you lay out the real-world implications for advertisers and media companies? 

Clinger: Despite its many glaring flaws, the third-party cookie was interoperable, and provided a common infrastructure for digital advertising. This enabled different parts of the ecosystem to work together to deliver a holistic consumer experience in the early days of the internet. With the end of third-party cookies as an identifier, and the acceleration of signal loss, we have to develop effective, data-driven, privacy-first marketing tactics that deliver better consumer experiences. 

At the same time, brands are focused on enhancing measurement, reach, frequency and attribution analysis across the full breadth of cross-screen marketing efforts — and that requires a deeper understanding of customers. 

Data collaboration is becoming an imperative for building foundational customer intelligence. As senior-level decision makers pursue more efficient ways to engage with the ecosystem and marketing costs are scrutinized more diligently, it’s become clear that data collaboration environments such as data clean rooms can drive better outcomes and integrate data sources into a single, usable source of customer insights. Clean rooms can unlock access to first-party data from media partners that was previously unattainable due to strict and varying privacy policies across companies. 

But without interoperability across a brand’s tech stack and solution partners, the value of clean rooms falls short. Cohabitation and communication between systems is essential to connect data wherever it may live — across clouds, warehouses, data silos or geographies — without having to centralize data in a single warehouse or invest in new infrastructure. Interoperability allows parties to collaborate seamlessly with their own data stacks and preferred tools.  

In short, a trusted interoperable infrastructure enables marketers to complement their own data with second and third parties’ data, enabling brands and their media partners to forge deeper partnerships and unlock new customer insights through data collaboration. 

In addition, demand for interoperability is growing as TV companies, as well as retailers in a growing number of segments, including travel and hospitality, are launching media networks seeking to compete with walled-garden behemoths. In a survey of 500 CPG executives that Wakefield Research conducted for us last year, 97% said they would invest more in smaller RMNs if they were interoperable with other networks. Technology allows networks to deliver a best-of-both-worlds solution for their businesses and partners.  

Participants have said that data matching and integration with vendors can be something of a struggle. How can publishers help facilitate that process?   

Clinger: Having an authenticated approach to identity and matching is key to ensuring better integration. Without this, it’s more difficult to develop an accurate, omnichannel view of the customer, and drive personalized experiences across omnichannel touchpoints. Authenticated matching helps remove noise from the data set, make accurate matches, and drive scaled and accurate insights key to unlocking value for both parties.

Deterministic matching within enhanced data clean rooms, powered by people-based identity, ensures better measurement for the impact of marketing campaigns. It’s critical that publishers leverage identities that are interoperable across clean rooms and sync identities to reduce loss of data.  

Clean rooms are only part of the larger picture in terms of the need for solutions that maximize marketing flexibility in the new, more complex environment. Can you talk about why brands are focused on developing cutting-edge identity strategies? 

Clinger: There will be no single, “silver bullet” solution for the post-cookie world. Marketers will need to use a mixture of authenticated, cohort and contextual solutions to achieve their goals, each with its own pros and cons. To leverage the best of all these worlds, marketers should have an identity strategy that enables them to span these different solutions and open up more opportunities. 

A strategy centered on a cutting-edge addressability solution that supports planning, activating with first-party data and measuring across all of these types of solutions, can allow marketers to engage people at precisely the right moment with the right message. These solutions should be interoperable so marketers can ensure that their media strategies meet consumers’ ever-changing preferences, and easily test and iterate across channels, without over-commitment to any one platform or format. 

Identity solutions should help to tie together data in siloed systems like marketing platforms and CRMs back to single-customer records safely, securely and accurately. Tying together online and offline data helps prevent a disjointed customer experience. The identity solution should also create trusted, transparent value exchanges with consumers, helping consumers understand what their data will be used for in exchange for the value provided to them. 

Media buying decision-makers should be fully bought in, with alignment across an organization toward the common goal of connecting disparate first-party data. This is a necessary first step, as a prerequisite to earning useful data from customers is understanding what data organizations already have and why they are collecting it. 

There are several key marketing use cases that organizations should be sure their identity solution can address. Ad personalization is one of the most powerful because it enables that right message-at-the-right-time engagement with customers across their journey. Audience suppression enables removing specific audience-based segments from online and offline marketing campaigns, improving the customer experience. And using lookalike modeling can enable identifying and reaching new customers who look and behave like existing high-value customers. Importantly, every impression that is bought should be measured to prove ROAS. 

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