Post-cookie solutions: Data clean rooms vs. telco verification

7th June  |  
5 minutes

As the digital advertising industry adjusts to the end of third-party tracking cookies, a range of alternative, privacy-compliant solutions are emerging around post-cookie identification and data mapping. Recently, there has been some confusion in the industry between two different solutions to this challenge: telco-verification services on the one hand and data clean rooms (or data cleanrooms) on the other. While superficially having some similarities, the two are in fact quite different post-cookie solutions. Here, we take a closer look at the key differences. 

What is a data clean room? 

Data clean rooms are spaces where publishers and brands can share customer data in a secure, offline environment. Data analysis using e.g. hashed emails or phone numbers, device IDs and IP addresses, reveals likely matches between the datasets, providing the insights needed for activation.  

Essentially, data clean rooms are data exchanges that enable brands and publishers to safely match first party data to aggregated second-or-third-party data sources to build audiences without breaching privacy laws or using third-party cookies. Use cases include building new segments for engagement, identifying lookalike audiences, and measurement. In some cases, data clean rooms enable publishers to build custom audiences that can be sent directly to an ad platform for activation. Examples of data clean rooms include Google Ads Data Hub, the Amazon Marketing Cloud, Snowflake, and Infosum.  

What is telco verification? 

Telco verification is where publishers’ and / or brand’s consented IDs are sent to a telco to verify user IDs and stitch them together to provide a consistent view of the user for analytics and first party profiling. The verification is made by reference to the telco’s network intelligence which can recognise users across both authenticated and anonymous websites and across devices. 

Once publishers/brands have verified the users they can then use the verified ID to associate a consented audience co-hort to the user for safe advertising activation against a transient network ID. Using a first-party data hub the IDs can then be used to create standard audiences without any actual data exchange. 

An example of a telco-verified ID solution is Novatiq’s Fusion – Zenith ID and Hyper ID which we will use to illustrate the differences. 

What are the differences between data clean rooms and telco verification?  

While both telco-verification IDs and data clean rooms leverage secure, privacy-first approaches to post-cookie audience activation, there are many differences. These include: 

  • Access to data. Clean rooms aggregate publisher and advertiser data, and the clean room software has visibility of all this data, which is necessary to find matches. With telco-verified IDs, Novatiq neither sees nor transacts first-party data. The Fusion platform merely creates an obfuscated ID and the infrastructure through which identity signals are verified by the telco behind its firewall.  
  • Real-time vs. offline. Clean rooms operate offline. Novatiq’s Fusion platform, on the other hand, enables real-time, in-flight audience verification. Data clean rooms use processing to find patterns, whereas telco-verification IDs provide publishers and brands absolute signals on whether one ID matches another ID.  
  • Activation. Data clean rooms create matched datasets that can be used to reach audiences with relevant content. However, to activate that data publishers and brands must rely on existing identifiers in the bid stream. Conversely, with Fusion publishers can generate their own activation IDs in the ad request, which are then verified by first-party intelligence from telcos. This Hyper ID is distributed through the programmatic ecosystem, enabling risk-free first-party audience activation at scale. 
  • Reach. To enable scale, data clean rooms often aggregate data from multiple publishers. Novatiq believes that publishers would prefer to keep their first-party information to themselves, and so we enable them to build their own ID infrastructure. If publishers do wish to extend their reach or advertisers want to reach a cross-publisher standard audience, Novatiq enables this to happen without the need to share first-party information (only the verification ID is shared).  
  • Data types. Data clean rooms use a mix of (highly) probabilistic and deterministic signals to map likely matches. Telco-verified IDs use deterministic data only (i.e., publisher, brand, and telco first-party information).  

A complementary service 

So unalike are telco-verified ID platforms and data clean rooms that the former can be used to serve the latter. Specifically, publishers using data clean rooms may, if they wish, use Novatiq Fusion to enable the safe activation of the data they receive from their clean room, an approach that has the privacy advantage of enabling publishers to avoid sending information through the bidstream.  

Data clean rooms are a tool for aggregating and comparing datasets to help deduplicate datasets and matching audiences. Telco-verified ID platforms, on the other hand, provide an interoperable platform on which brands can safely build and activate audiences at scale. Each has its benefits, and both will play a role as the advertising ecosystem adjusts to the privacy-first future. 

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