By Ian Darby | journalist

July 21, 2022 | 7 min read

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The issue of data privacy has risen to the top of the CMO agenda. It was a significant - and arguably critical- discussion point at the recent Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. That's largely because data deprecation and privacy regulations are presenting significant challenges to brands and publishers who need to maintain, clean, and share customer and prospect data across partners in order for marketing and measurement to work in the future.

clean room advertising privacy

Our panelists discuss how evolving privacy regulations are creating challenges for marketers

With interest in the subject rising, The Drum hosted a panel as part of its 'Live in Cannes' coverage, in partnership with Neustar, a TransUnion company, an end to-end marketing solutions provider that specializes in identity data, clean room, and advanced analytics for brands and agencies.

For more information, you can watch the full panel discussion here

Joining Kenneth Hein, The Drum's US editor and moderator, were:

  • Steve Silvers, senior vice president & general manager, identity, audience & clean room solutions at Neustar

  • Delphine Fabre-Hernoux, chief data & analytics officer at Wavemaker

  • Tracy B YoungLincoln, global chief client officer at Kinesso

  • Laura McElhinney, executive vice president, chief data officer at Horizon Media

The session, 'The clean room inevitability: demystifying the privacy-dominant advertising future,' saw the expert panel delve into issues including the evolving privacy regulations that are creating challenges for marketers, how clean rooms enable data-driven marketing in this new era, and questions brands and publishers need to ask to determine if an investment in this type of solution is right for them.

In its recent report 'the truth about data clean rooms,' Forrester Research describes these as "one of the many solutions promising to resolve the targeting and measurement challenges posed by data deprecation."

Kicking off the discussion, Horizon Media's McElhinney made the point that the success of a clean room depends on partnerships: "Typically, the brands themselves do not need their own clean room. They just need to partner with someone who has a clean room, whether it be their agency, whether they're taking in media data themselves because they're managing it in-house, and working with vendors as well."

She also emphasized the importance of education on all sides around the clean room issue - for advertisers to appreciate the role they can play, and for agencies and other partners to understand the brand and the resources they have available.

Neustar's Silvers built on this insight with the assertion that consideration for clean rooms should form part of a broader data strategy within an organization. "A lot of you may have bought a customer data platform [CDP] in the last two years. Maybe you're still trying to figure out why you bought that and, if you're going to have a clean room stacked up next to that, trying to figure out what you're then doing. Start with the plan, and then there's all sorts of technology and data that we can work with as an industry to solve the problem that you have."

Fabre-Hernoux of Wavemaker outlined a variety of use cases where data clean rooms can benefit organizations, and mentioned that access to first-party data is essential in the majority of these situations: "If your client has a challenge to get first-party data, it's going to be difficult, and maybe a clean room is not going to be the answer."

The cookie-less future

The panel moved next onto exploring the largest motivating factors when it comes to client demand for interest in clean rooms. The overwhelming answer? "The cookie-less future". Kinesso's YoungLincoln argued that, within this context, brands need to be sure that it's the right time for investment in a clean room before making the commitment. "Not everybody is ready. They might not have all the connectivity and openness that they need in order to make these technologies work together," she said.

And there remains work to do in defining exactly what a clean room is, and what it can achieve for advertisers. Neustar's Silvers was on hand with a swift definition - "data collaboration tools that allow for private data sharing for the accomplishment of specific use cases." McElhinney agreed that the clean room describes "the collaboration point" in which brands are "bringing those data assets together for the purposes of matching and sharing."

YoungLincoln added a couple of extra features that are important to a clean room,"It's also a knowledge center for brands who want to understand the overlap that they have in customers, which may be addressable in their own environment. But it's also a data analytic practice, which I don't think they're playing around in."

The importance of the clean room as a place for analytics was an important theme for Fabre-Hernoux. She asserted that it could be used to create "first-party intelligence for clients" and to "empower clients to be smarter and agencies to make better decisions."

Fear of the pace of change is driving much of the interest in data clean rooms, but this can be turned into opportunities, added Fabre-Hernoux. She then issued a provocative statement, "We [Group M/Wavemaker] don't necessarily believe that first-party data is going to be the future It's very important for some clients, but we know that it's not for all clients. So, we think that we need to start thinking about different ways to create intelligence, and the clean room is a part of the strategy."

Connecting data strategy with values

The live Cannes session wrapped with a concluding thought from each of the panelists, which covered one piece of advice to the audience. Suggestions included the importance of collaboration when it comes to clean rooms, introducing a test-and-learn approach, and the essential practice of asking questions at every stage.

Neustar's Silvers called the audience to action, saying that now is the time for marketers to dig in how their data strategy connects to values:

"The time for planning to make plans is over. The time to plan your data strategy is now. You need to decide who you are as a company. How you use data needs to be part of those core values. And we need to decide what we're willing to do, and what we're not willing to do - what type of data, what type of consent - we need to make those decisions about who we are as an organization. And then we need to take that to inform the data strategy, and the technology decisions we're making now so we have a successful business in the future."

For more information, watch the full panel discussion here

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Neustar, Inc., a TransUnion company, is an information services and technology company and a leader in identity resolution providing the data and technology that enables trusted connections between companies and people at the moments that matter most.

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