How data collaboration can help brands stay privacy compliant while fostering partnerships

Jason Pollock
By Jason Pollock | 8 April 2024
Richard Knott and Schalk van der Sandt.

Data collaboration is emerging as a possible solution for brands wanting to work with multiple partners and various industries while remaining privacy compliant as cookies begin to fade out. 

Historically, data collaboration across industries has been burdened by solutions that require data to be shared and centralised, with the associated privacy risks that come with that. 

InfoSum's GM for ANZ Richard Knott said that the idea of giving up data to another partner has become less comfortable as privacy has been prioritised, resulting in a knee jerk reaction of ‘I can't share my data anymore, I need to keep it within my own environment’.

"Into that vacuum has stepped decentralised solutions that can, through various cryptographic technologies, still work with that data, even though it is now within different environments," he said.

"What that's unlocked is the ability to work with multiple parties in those environments to collaborate with that data."

Annalect Australia COO Schalk van der Sandt said it's easy to think of moving from a traditional data clean room and into a multi-party, cloud-based data collaboration as something that has to be done because of privacy regulation, but that this kind of capability actually opens up "so many doors that haven't been opened before".

"We’re lucky in some sense in the Australian market that we haven't quite gone as far down the road as some of the other markets in terms of a data wild west where it was just being traded freely and available," van der Sandt said. 

"I think we were a bit more conservative with data usage, especially from a publisher and network perspective. People didn't just freely give that data away. They put a lot of value on the privacy and security around that data."

Annalect, Omnicom Media Group’s data and analytics division, recently partnered with InfoSum to create a neutral clean room solution for its Asia Pacific clients, with InfoSum capabilities integrated into Omnicom’s marketing orchestration operating system, enabling privacy-safe utilisation of data across the entire marketing workflow.

That initiative went beyond the conventional use of data clean rooms by balancing data privacy with data utility through distributed insights generation - relying on moving code and sharing the algorithm that extracts insights rather than moving or copying the data itself.

Annalect's van der Sant said the focus has traditionally very much been on how brands move pieces of data around to activate on certain platforms and in certain environments, but with cookies on the way out, that capability is completely in jeopardy.

"Multi party data collaboration will enable continuation of some of those activities in a much more privacy safe way," he said.

"You can go and profile that audience against a vast data partner catalog, see what they look like in different environments. Now I understand what my consumer looks like, what kind of media they consume, what kind of programming they watch, what some of their socio-demographic attributes might be, what they're buying across a retail environment.

"All of those observations will allow me to create insights which will guide not only my specific digital performance media, but how I go about planning my television campaigns, how I go about planning my out of home campaigns, how I craft messaging, how I develop my product suite."

Asked whether brands are taking the need for privacy around data seriously, Knott told AdNews that he thinks there isn't a resistance to change so much as there's an inertia which is present with any major change within large organisations.

"There's not an awful lot of certainty as to what is going to be required in 6, 12 or 18 months time; there's some guidelines that have been released, there's been some talk, there's some speculation - we can all consider and look at other markets and say this is what we think will happen - but there's no hard and fast guidelines that have thus far been put to brand," he said.

"Now you're in a situation where you need to consider what works now but also what needs to happen in 6, 12 or 18 months time - what does that need to look like?"

Knott said that endless education is coming at data holders from every angle, whether that's platforms talking about conversion APIs and privacy sandboxes, off the shelf measurement vendors talking about the impacts of measurement or technology being created around customer IDs for targeting purposes.

"To try and make sense of all of this, while also not having certainty about what's going to be required, I don't think it'd be fair of any of us to expect these major brands to have made all of these moves," he said.

"I can definitely tell you that it's an absolutely priority though; nobody wants to be on the front page of the newspaper with regards to massive fines or data breaches."

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