LAS VEGAS — One of the world’s largest chocolate manufacturers likes the taste of a new tech category designed to enable data collaboration while maintaining privacy compliance – but The Hershey Company is also warning of a looming after-taste.

“Clean room” software is gaining adoption in media and advertising for allowing partners to work with each others’ datasets – without actually sharing the data.

In this video interview with Beet.TV, Vinny Rinaldi, Head of Media & Analytics, The Hershey Company, says the software is bringing business benefits – but he is worried about emerging complexity.

‘Exciting evolution’

“It’s this new buzzword in a way, but the technology and capabilities are there,” Rinaldi says. “They’re exciting and they’re offering up brands opportunities to learn at a deeper level of analytics.

“What we’re looking towards building is, ‘How do we create a clean room solution that integrates with retailer data and our media exposure data?’

“I can tell you who saw what, and you can tell me who bought that – that makes my business grow.

“Without the capabilities which we’re now standing up, we couldn’t do that before. That, to me, is one of the most exciting evolutions and simple ones as well.”

Avoiding complexity

But Rinaldi is worried that the growing number of clean room offerings risks repeating the same kind of vendor proliferation that has happened in many other categories of ad-tech.

He says “walled garden” clean room solutions have emerged from Amazon and Google, with others coming from the likes of Habu and Snowflake.

“It’s complicated,” he says. “We’re trying to figure out the navigation of each and where it stands up. Google has our ad server, we are a YouTube investor. There’s a lot of data in there to marry in a clean room solution.”

But that’s not the only consideration for Hershey. “We’ve built a clean room solution within the Snowflake environment that allows us to bring second-party data in and look at closed-loop measurement ourselves.”

So Rinaldi is trying to “navigate” those two different imperatives. He says he doesn’t want to work with four different clean room tech stacks.

Back to ‘goodness’

While this use of data is enriching, especially as privacy regulations and further looming legislation put limits on use of identifiers, Rinaldi says Hershey does not want to take a data-dependent approach anyway.

“How we want to present ourselves as a brand in front of those consumers is way more about our brand love and not their data,” he says.

“Making sure that we are front and centre with the right contextual environments helps us create those ‘moments of goodness‘.

“Think of s’mores. I’m not worried about the data collection of a person. I’m worried about creating the incredible moment you spend with your family or friends around a campfire.

“Data privacy is going play a role and I think actually bring back some of the old ways of marketing, but with a lot of data to power the insights that allow us to be a lot smarter about where we place our impressions.”

You’re watching ‘Clean Rooms: Collaboration Goes Mainstream,’ a Beet.TV Leadership Series produced at CES 2023, presented by Habu. For more videos from this series, please visit this page. For all of our coverage from CES 2023, please click here.