How to find new audiences while securing personal data with clean rooms

For many marketers, clean rooms are mysterious spaces traditionally seen as the exclusive domain of data scientists. As a nascent category of solutions, providing a clear definition can be challenging.    

Much like physical clean rooms have safeguards in place against biosecurity risks, clean rooms safeguard data. The impetus for the airtight seal isn't to keep out contaminants, but to safeguard personally identifiable information (PII) while making it accessible within the clean room's secure confines.

Clean rooms play a crucial role in enabling brands to find new audiences—with or without first-party data— without compromising consumers’ security and to reach customers without the aid of soon-to-be-deprecated third-party cookies.   

In effective clean room solutions, “privacy and security comes first,” emphasizes Sebastien Gelas—Vice President of Product at Epsilon. “Respecting the basics of data collaboration between organizations while keeping data privacy and security guidelines at the forefront is key. The solution must be easy to leverage, as well as value generating. Sharing data is great, but using the shared data efficiently is where value resides.” 

Luckily, clean rooms are designed for that: effectively achieving marketing goals and finding your next best customers while also addressing privacy and security challenges.  

Enriching customer views 

Missing key touchpoints as a brand can be frustrating and penalizing. Fortunately, in a clean room, a brand can collate data from various partners and bring it into a pseudonymous view across those partners. Measurement data can thus be taken across activation partners into one location for ease of viewability.

Clean rooms solutions are not created equally: many use matching identifiers such as cookies or email addresses, resulting in the same person looking like multiple people and the inability for one-to-one messaging.

Effective solutions use person-based identifiers for a pseudonymized customer view that can be activated. Marketers have access to pseudonymized customer profiles — the context for a person is there but none of the PII — which enables personalized marketing and seamless customer experiences while safeguarding individuals' security.

Hence, it's possible to serve existing customers more effectively and identify new ones. Marketers can understand true customer attributes and patterns and reach them differently--or more people like them—within their activation framework.

The value of pseudonymous data  

When the EU adopted GDPR, it marked a meaningful new benchmark for international privacy and security laws and set the tone for similar laws to pass elsewhere.

GDPR includes the fundamental assumption that people are legally entitled to exercise control over their personal information. That approach is guiding the creation of new privacy legislation in the U.S. that offers substantial additional consumer protections, thus raising the bar for marketers. To maintain compliance, some brand partners have been playing catch-up or retrofitting their existing technology.

Despite the initial challenges the new approach to data security brings, roughly 70% of consumers want personalized marketing messages. Therefore, the use of pseudonymous data is key to instilling security because when data is pseudonymized through an identifier, there is significantly less chance of exposing personal data since it can no longer be attributed to a specific data subject without the use of additional information. Thus, pseudonymized data satisfies consumers want for personalized, relevant messaging, but in a secure context.   

How clean rooms helps marketers win    

Within interoperable clean room solutions that use person-based identifiers, such as Epsilon’s, a brand’s first-party data is attached to pseudonymized insights from third-party and/or partner brands’ data using an identity graph, including a brand's first-party customer-specific transaction and browsing histories. This data creates rich individual profiles and secure, one-to-one messaging across channels.

This includes addressable TV, where an identity-based solution is essential to unlocking the full potential of accurately targeting specific audiences: with the help of clean rooms brands can reach consumers across channels and devices. This also enables the creation of retail media networks, where clean rooms allow for the sharing of pseudonymized shopper data with brands and advertisers.     

Many marketers have continued upping spend on walled garden clean rooms, such as Google or Facebook, which are closed ecosystems. Walled garden campaigns only provide limited reporting and aggregate views of campaign performance as opposed to an individualized view.     

Compared to clean room solutions offered by walled gardens, interoperable clean room solutions like Epsilons have a huge advantage: the consumer insights made possible using them can be used across digital channels and can get down to the unique customer profile level, pseudonymized of course. Brands now have the power to render their data actionable in a secure way and access missing data points for a complete picture of their customer base.

The wave of new laws aimed at enhancing data privacy addresses key consumer concerns but upend some standard marketing practices. Brands that embrace emerging solutions, such as clean rooms, are well-positioned to weather the transition, increase cross-functional business opportunities and continue to reach and attract growth audiences and increase ROI while valuing data security.