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The Key to Unlocking Advertising Intelligence in the Walled Gardens Is Through Their Clean Rooms

by: Jessica Tansey
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Is the ROI of your media spend dwindling? If you’re like most brand marketers or agencies, you have spent significant advertising dollars — perhaps even 70% of your entire spend — in Google, Amazon, Facebook, or all of the above. You should be seeing significant gains from these channels. But lately? Have you noticed your returns are actually declining and you’re struggling to measure results and answer the core questions to your business?

Why is that? Because the walls have grown higher and higher amidst a shift to a privacy-first world. Brands are simply not reaching their intended audiences as easily as they used to, because once broadly available user-level data is now being kept under lock and key.

Walled garden clean rooms to the rescue

Thankfully, there’s a way to do an about-face on those diminishing returns by accessing the clean room environments that the walled garden platforms offer. Google, Amazon, and Facebook each offer their own data clean rooms that help you reach the right audiences and measure your media performance more effectively.

If you’re spending in any of these channels and you’re not leveraging their clean rooms, you’re missing out on a treasure trove of data and insights not available otherwise.

We’re not only talking about data you used to be able to access and cannot any longer; you also get far more data, visibility, and control.

Walled garden clean rooms are emerging for all the right reasons

Although the walled gardens have been known for taking a lot in terms of data and advertising spend, but not giving much back in return, the emergence of their clean rooms provides a promising opportunity: they are designed to benefit both the brand and consumer.

Data clean rooms were created specifically for companies to privately and securely share data without making available consumers' personally identifiable information. While user level data goes into the clean room, aggregated insights come out in cohort (or audience group) level analysis. This approach delivers more value to everyone involved.

The most popular emerging walled garden clean rooms are:

  • Google Ads Data Hub (ADH)

  • Amazon Marketing Cloud (AMC)

  • Facebook Advanced Analytics (FAA)

Google Ads Data Hub (ADH)

Google was the first to market by launching their clean room, Google Ads Data Hub (ADH), in 2017 as a privacy-safe replacement for Doubleclick. ADH enables brands to access impression-level data across all of their media campaigns in Campaign Manager, Display & Video 360 (DV360), Google Ads, and YouTube Reserve. As cookies go away and with the sunsetting of data transfer files, which many advertisers have relied on to get access to raw event-level data, ADH will be the ONLY environment with access to this granular level of data.

Amazon Marketing Cloud (AMC)

In the last quarter of 2019, Amazon beta-launched its own data clean room, called Amazon Marketing Cloud. Similar to ADH, AMC is making raw event-level data available to customers who leverage their clean rooms. Amazon describes AMC as “a secure, privacy-safe, and dedicated cloud-based environment in which advertisers can easily perform analytics across multiple, pseudonymized data sets to generate aggregated reports.”

Facebook Advanced Analytics (FAA)

Although much less publicly available (just moving to Beta now), Facebook Advanced Analytics was announced in the spring of 2018 and appears to provide a similar offering to that of Google and Amazon. It enables user-level data to go into the clean room and aggregate insights (in cohort groups of 100) to come out.

The key benefit and challenge of the walled garden clean room

Benefit: Walled garden clean room environments offer a depth of data and analysis not otherwise available

The depth of data and analysis available in these environments is much deeper than anything outside or previously made available.

With Google, for example, you have the ability to upload your CRM and any other first party data into their clean room, ADH, where it can be combined with impression data from your advertising campaigns. Combining your rich CRM data with event-level data from your Google advertising campaigns across Campaign Manager, DV360, Google Ads, and YouTube Reserve enables you to:

  • Unlock new and deeper customer insights

  • Improve media efficiency and targeting

  • Reduce marketing waste

  • Increase conversion and return on ad spend (ROAS)

Now take that one step further and envision unlocking that same level of insight within Amazon and Facebook’s clean room environments to understand cross-channel reach and frequency, measurement, and attribution. This offers a very big benefit to brands, but it’s not without its challenges.

Challenge: Walled garden data clean rooms are complex

Although the data is vast and rich, these environments are complex, each clean room has their own set of rules, and often requires a team of data scientists or engineers to make sense of the data in order to extract insights.

When you log in, for example, you’ll find a blank screen and blinking cursor prompting you to begin writing your query. That’s fine if you have a team of data scientists on standby and dedicated to working within these environments. If you don’t, the business user, who often owns the day-to-day and is responsible for the performance in these channels, will struggle to realize the full value that these clean rooms can offer.

How to reap the benefits without the challenges

Now imagine if you had an intelligence layer sitting on top of Google, Amazon, or Facebook’s clean room environments that could automate the end-to-end process and provide a library of pre-built queries so that marketers and data scientists alike could extract insights, optimize campaigns, and quickly answer questions that matter to your business. This would not only empower your data scientists to work more efficiently and free up time for them to run more complex or custom analysis within these environments, but also provide a simple user experience that any business user could manage.

How brands are leveraging walled garden data clean rooms today

The walled garden clean rooms may still be a new technology to many, but leading brands are using them today in exciting ways to extract data and insights not possible before.

By utilizing an intelligence layer on top of Google’s clean room, ADH, a sportswear brand is automating query analysis for faster insights and optimizations to improve reach and frequency and reduce media waste. In addition, they are running experiments at scale to measure lift and brand impact on ecommerce and online-offline sales to calculate the ROAS of their investment within Google.

By leveraging the user- and impression-level campaign data that is uniquely available in Amazon Marketing Cloud, a global beauty brand is driving increased efficiency and effectiveness across their entire portfolio of brands. By accelerating delivery and expanding the scope of campaign insights from AMC, they are enabling their agency teams to better plan, optimize, and measure the significant investment they have made within Amazon.

When will your company embrace the walled garden clean rooms?

As the richest and most granular data remains beyond the walls under lock and key, the clean room environments that the walled gardens offer present an extraordinary opportunity for brands to gain a competitive advantage. Those that have embraced the walled garden clean rooms are able to truly understand the full impact of their advertising within Google, Amazon, Facebook, and across the larger marketing ecosystem.

Ready to unlock advertising intelligence within the channels where you spend the most? Learn how Habu can help.