Amazon Is Testing A Clean Room Service, Giving Advertisers Access To New Data Sets

Amazon is developing clean room data technology that could improve measurement and data for ad campaigns, according to sources familiar with the product.

The idea is similar to other clean room offerings, like Google’s Ads Data Hub (ADH) or Facebook’s enterprise data-sharing service, which enable advertisers to measure campaigns or mingle their first-party data with platform user data, without exposing individuals to targeting or analytics.

Amazon’s clean room is still in a closed beta, and sources said they expect it to launch or enter an open beta by early next year.

Amazon declined to comment.

Advertising with Amazon can be frustrating because it releases very little campaign data. Money goes in, and Amazon sales go up. Other than that, there is very little information brands and agencies have to work with on Amazon.

What data will Amazon’s clean room provide?

Google has pulled its advertising ID in Europe and plans to do the same worldwide next year, but it still returns log files stripped of that ID. Amazon has never offered similar impression-level data.

The Amazon clean room still doesn’t include user-level data or anything per impression, like log files. But it allows cohort-level analytics of at least 50 users with specific attributes that have engaged with a campaign.

A brand or an agency could, for instance, see that a campaign is catching fire with men aged 18-35 in cities, or with Amazon shoppers who have made certain purchases in the past. A mobile campaign might be taking off with Android but not iPhone owners.

The clean room could also preserve a timeline for campaigns on Amazon. So a paper towel brand for instance could split out first-time Amazon buyers from customers that re-up every month or two.

One reason CPG and household product brands have resisted selling on Amazon is that they can’t accurately forecast lifetime value scores or see how many placements it takes to convert shoppers, said one agency executive. The clean room product isn’t at that point yet, he said, but the potential is there.

The most exciting thing about Amazon’s clean room isn’t the tech or data that’s currently available, but the notion that Amazon is “open to sharing data at all,” said another agency exec, speaking on background due to a nondisclosure agreement.

Amazon’s AWS angle

Amazon and Google are pursuing the same idea with their cloud-based clean rooms, but from opposite ends of the spectrum.

Google dominates the ad industry, but is a newcomer and distant third behind Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure in the cloud infrastructure category. By housing ADH within the Google Cloud Platform, Google can shuffle many of its ad clients onto cloud accounts.

On the other hand, Amazon is trying to leverage its cloud footprint to attract advertisers.

AWS engineers are working with the Amazon ad platform team on the clean room product. One advantage Amazon has is that many more agency data specialists are more accustomed to AWS than to Google cloud, said one agency source that works with both products.

“These clean rooms are in a client education race right now, and it’s easier for Amazon to educate agencies because they’re more familiar with AWS,” the exec said.

Google’s ADH is further along – it has to be, since Google’s European clients need it to replace the ad data they lost when GDPR became law and Google deprecated its ID. But sources said both platforms are still testing and learning how to make a clean room work.

Google only started charging for cloud data use in ADH last year, when GDPR came into effect, sources said. Amazon doesn’t monetize its clean room tech, which right now is reserved for large brands that have enterprise deals in place with Amazon, so it’s part of those larger agreements.

Clean room tech is relatively new for the ad industry, but the progression from free ad tech feature to an extremely lucrative platform product is very familiar said one exec, citing the DoubleClick ID and Facebook pixels or app log-ins as examples of freebies that tied brands to their platforms long-term.

“The platform players realize here that the more data advertisers push into their systems, the more reliant they’ll be and less likely to change when the revenue switch flips,” he said.

Alison Weissbrot contributed

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