Why Publishers Will Need to Update Their Data Practices to Remain Competitive  


The marketing and publishing industries are confronting growing pressure to embrace new privacy standards and practices now and into the year ahead. Adam Gelles, CEO of Clean Room Consortium, discusses why now is the time for publishers to think through their data management strategies and policies in the context of this new world. 

The deprecation of third-party cookies, as well as the reduction of ad tracking, has hindered the ability to target audiences and measure advertising campaigns. Enter data clean rooms. Touted as a practical solution to the increased focus on privacy, data clean rooms offer a privacy-compliant way for marketers, agencies, publishers and platforms to collaborate. 

However, recent data from Habu found that more than half of the 266 marketing professionals (including publishers) surveyed have yet to use one. And out of these major stakeholders in the data clean room setting, it can be argued that publishers are the least prepared for the changes ahead. 

See More: 6 Steps to Successful Data Management

Ones To Watch 

As the industry preps for a future where first-party data takes center stage, clean rooms will become more popular among major players – and we’re already seeing this happen with major platforms launching multiple clean rooms within their ecosystems.

For example, Amazon Web Services (AWS)Opens a new window is set to launch its own clean room technology next year. It will enable advertisers and publishers to link their data and find overlap without leakage. Amazon Ads currently offers a clean room solution within its Amazon Marketing Cloud (AMC), but the service is limited to advertisers linking their data with signals from Amazon media properties. 

And search engine giant Google recently shared its strategy of splitting upOpens a new window its Ads Data Hub by creating one unit to help marketers target audiences and another reserved for measurement. With the new hub dedicated to marketers, Google is offering a place where brands can import data sets and use them to find new audiences for their ads bought on Google’s Display and Video 360 ad network. On the flip side, the second piece of the ad hub, Ads Data Hub for Measurement Partners, will create new measurement tools for third-party partners like DoubleVerify.

Additionally, major brand General Motors (GM) became the first to merge its data with NBCUnified, the data portfolio that allows brands to combine their first-party data with information from across NBCU properties.

Publishers Adopting Clean Rooms

With momentum building for clean rooms, future-proofing and updating data practices, systems and processes must be imperative for every publisher. Those unable to implement a sound first-party data strategy that adapts to the changing landscape risk under-monetizing their assets, alienating forward-thinking marketers and agencies.

Fortunately, there are some good examples to learn from, like Disney’s recent pivot.  

In 2022, Disney partnered with The Trade Desk, combining user data from its clean room with Unified ID 2.0, a third-party cookie replacement that’s already been adopted by Nielsen, LiveRamp, and Criteo.

And just one year after launching its clean room technology and focusing on planning and insights (pre- and post-campaign analytics), Disney recently announced an integration with VideoAmp. The integration’s goal is to bolster clean room measurement with VideoAmp’s TV viewership data and will cover insights across both traditional age-gender demographics as well as advanced audiences and business outcomes. This will ultimately allow an advertiser to match its own first-party data with Disney’s audience graph to receive deduplicated campaign measurement based on ad exposures across Disney channels.

How To Get Ahead 

Marketers’ experiences with shopper marketing programs simplify the job. The tools allow trust that a retail media network’s customer data will yield insights that have the ability to boost sales directly. Thus far, many marketer-publisher partnerships involving clean rooms have been between marketers and retail media networks. However, the untapped opportunity is available for content media publishers also to build clean rooms to support their key advertising partners.

Getting ahead with clean room adoption is important in two key ways for publishers. The first being the ability to service their advertising clients (marketers and agencies) who are using clean rooms for audience insight, attribution, and return on ad spend (ROAS) analysis. And next, to develop new business products focused around data in a privacy-safe environment that can drive new, incremental revenue. 

See More: The Future of Data-Driven Marketing Is Inside Data Clean Rooms

Publishers debating the merits of the clean room initiative need to start by learning the landscape and players, drafting a business case for investment and then starting with a test phase of implementation to support specific use cases. These use cases can include: 

  • Quantifying the incremental revenue associated with implementing data clean rooms to collaborate with brands
  • Evaluating the quality and depth of their first-party data in a competitive context
  • Understanding the loss of revenue and ad addressability when brands or agencies may require a data clean room to be in place
  • Evaluating the needed investment across people, process, data and technology to deliver a clean room solution

Once the business case has been successfully established, there are operational considerations, such as:

  • Establishing business rules to control which of its data components and sets can be matched and used
  • Assessing internal communications, training and education needs
  • Encouraging interaction among the leadership, product, data, analytics, sales and marketing teams – so they can develop use cases and discuss implementation dynamics
  • Getting internal alignment on what constitutes success

After these steps are implemented, a publisher is ready to go to market. They should be able to articulate the following:

  • The quality and scale of its data and inventory
  • The value of its audience insights and segments by use case (e.g., customization, attribution or targeting)
  • What will it cost to use the publisher’s clean room and data for the specific use case(s)
  • Rules and restrictions for matching, purchasing, and using its data

With privacy regulations and the upcoming deprecation of third-party cookies looming over the industry, there’s a case for both marketers and publishers to focus on strengthening their first-party consumer data relationships. Most importantly for publishers, they need to treat their first-party insight as a monetizable asset and not just research data. There is a business to be had, and many publishers, by not working on their data management and clean room initiatives, are simply leaving money on the table.

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