The era of third-party cookies as the most popular means of user identification in the digital world is coming to an end. Although a world completely without cookies is not expected until the end of 2024, advertisers and publishers are already facing major changes: Identifying and targeting users is already complicated by browser tracking conventions, as well as more restrictive privacy laws in response to a data market that is sometimes out of control.

These developments have significant implications for the entire digital advertising world. Opportunities for audience-based campaigns are becoming more limited by the day, the reliability of data-based analytics as well as customer journey attribution has become more uncertain, and the effectiveness of digital advertising media – a key indicator of success when competing for marketing budgets – has dropped dramatically. A reorientation in data-driven user targeting is therefore essential for all players in the market.

Data Clean Rooms are on the rise

In addition to new identifiers and alternative methods in cookieless targeting, such as contextual or semantic targeting, one solution in particular is becoming increasingly important: so-called Data Clean Rooms (DCR).

Broadly speaking, a DCR is a technology platform that enables companies to form data alliances in which multiple partners can review and update their data sets by, for example, comparing common variables or identifiers such as email addresses. The platform provides a secure environment for sharing first-party data between partner companies without losing their own data sovereignty. The shared data is stored in an encrypted format using hashing methods, making it available anonymously to the partners involved while maintaining data privacy.

By transferring the datasets into the DCR, partner companies can combine their own datasets with the data of others and create their own matching criteria to improve their own data quality. These insights can flow directly into the targeting of advertising campaigns by identifying the most relevant channels for the respective target groups.

DCR Alternative: Clean Instances by The Adex

An alternative to classic DCRs is offered to companies that already aggregate, segment and analyze their data sets via the DMP of Virtual Minds – better known as The Adex. The focus of Clean Instances is on enriching data records in a way that complies with data protection regulations; for example, advertiser data can be supplemented with publisher attributes, and linked data can be made available in the form of segment exports.

The data collection is based on the typical Adtech IDs, such as cookie IDs from exchanges as well as device and custom IDs, which are mapped beforehand via an ID synch. As with DCR, data sovereignty always remains with the provider of the data and external parties are not granted access to the data.

Clean Instances can be used for overlap analysis and data enrichment of two or more partners or to provide a third party data set for use on a customer delivery system.

The future of first-party data

Portrait von Anna RossmanithAnna Rossmanith, Team Lead Key Account Management at The Adex, summarizes, “Breaking down first-party data silos is greatly facilitated by Data Clean Rooms and Clean Instances. The amount of owned first-party data can be increased through partnerships without the parties having to reveal too much of themselves.”

With the focus on privacy and data security, first-party data collection has taken on an important role for digital advertising campaigns. “This trend will continue to accelerate in the coming years, leading to an increase in neutral data clean room providers and similar alternatives. Collaboration between companies via regulated data silos also offers a privacy-friendly alternative to the closed walled gardens of Apple, Google, Facebook & Co. and enables marketing performance to be taken to a new level,” Rossmanith concludes.