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The Future of Data Clean Rooms

As is customary in January, it’s been hard to move for opinions on the latest marketing trends for 2023. We’re over the previous years of DTC, BTC, and NFT, and now we must welcome a new, shiny three-lettered acronym about to revolutionise marketing forever: GPT – or ChatGPT to be precise. However, one trend that has seen steady growth and, importantly, successful implementation from marketers is Data Clean Rooms (or DCRs).

DCRs offer marketers the opportunity to interrogate their customer data in a safe, privacy-first environment, while opening up the ability to shape more of their media plans using insight from that same data. At the7stars we estimate that, by the end of 2023, up to 80% of the UK ad market could be delivered using some form of ad tech. This gives advertisers the exciting potential to liberate ‘data-driven’ ambitions from the clutches of ‘digital’ media, to the breadth of broadcasters and publishers in the UK. This is why we have launched Bridge – our audience connection and measurement platform, which includes DCR technology.

Recent research from the IAB has identified, through a panel of data-decision makers across both brands and agencies, that although eagerness to test the capabilities of DCRs is high, a key element tends to be overlooked: measurement. Measurement and effectiveness are foundational to our approach to data-shaped media and an irreplaceable part of Bridge. As with most new technology in marketing, being an early adopter can give brilliant advantages to challenger brands looking for an opportunity to get ahead. There is, however, one way to guarantee that you’re limiting any potential advantage, which is by forgoing your measurement. Whether you want to prove incrementality, test data-driven audiences vs off the shelf, or just understand more about your existing datasets, having a clear hypothesis and measurement framework is imperative for gaining the most value from DCRs.

DCRs are opening up further options for ‘closing the loop’ with addressable measurement – the ability to match exposed, addressable audiences to new customers is invaluable in a post-cookie world – but DCR effectiveness should not be limited to addressable measurement only, rather it should be one element of a full measurement framework which uses experimentation to test the impact of data-shaped media planning on business objectives.

DCRs, like most (perhaps all) technology, are only ever as powerful as the humans working with them. DCRs won’t build you a hypothesis, nor will they make sense of the nuances between audiences or how best to execute media across multiple channels. DCRs will give you an opportunity to buy media in a way that was never possible before, which should excite marketers and agencies alike. But amongst the excitement, we must ensure that robust planning and measurement is aligned with anything new that we do: we experiment to grow and measure to know.