CES 2023: Why Clorox Is Investing in Data Clean Rooms

Lisa Johnston
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For The Clorox Company, investing in data clean rooms has become a strategic imperative in today’s new marketing landscape. 

“Our value all comes from increasing the relevance of our brands, and the fuel for that is data and insights,” said Doug Milliken, Clorox VP marketing transformation, during a panel at CES 2023. “So anything that changes the environment of data and insights is really important to us.”  

Data clean rooms enable CPGs to compare their first-, second-, and third-party datasets with other companies without running afoul of privacy regulations and still maintaining control of their data. Milliken noted that with the onset of new privacy laws and the disappearance of cookies, the evolution of marketing remains unclear, and so “it's hugely strategic for us to be ready on our front foot for how this environment is going to evolve.” 

These new tactics extend up to Clorox's board level, with clean rooms representing one of the five choices they’re focused on “getting smart about.” 

Clorox has partnered with solution provider OMD, which Milliken said has helped in navigating the technologies, myriad partners, and starting points — a particular assist given Clorox’s limited resources, particularly surrounding data science. 

There are a number of challenges in dealing with data clean rooms, described by the exec as both practical and systemic. As with other technologies, its newness is accompanied by new requirements surrounding automation and dashboarding, as well as working efficiently with new partners across an organization. 

And while Clorox, which is the No. 81 publicly owned consumer goods company, is thinking about the consumer holistically — “We’re just trying to create an end-to-end experience to help them” — operating within a siloed ecosystem is difficult and time-intensive. 

“Every one of those partner possibilities is a unique negotiation: What data we're going to share? What data are we not going to share? There's not a lot of inner interoperability between all those platforms, and we just can't resource working with all of them.” 

Learnings and Lessons

Milliken shared some tips when it comes to investing in clean rooms based on Clorox’s experiences: 

One: Determine where this falls within a company’s strategic hierarchy — having alignment is very important. 

Two: Form a team — the right team. Navigating the new marketing landscape is a multi-disciplinary investment, requiring an understanding of data, technology, media, performance analytics skills, business knowledge, legal, use cases, and more. 

“We’ve realized you have to put a whole team together that can operate in a really high-functioning way to attack this problem — and that team has to be allowed to operate with all these partner teams who have sort of a similar set of disciplines,” said Milliken. “Getting that team together and working I think is probably the biggest unlock for us. I feel like the success we've had is because we have a team that works together across all those disciplines.” 

Three: Start with basic use cases, such as reach, frequency, and audience overlap, and improve your internal and external learnings before moving on to something potentially more complex. 

However, once Clorox has gotten the “brilliant basics” worked out over the next year or so, Milliken said he sees higher value in such things as upper-funnel awareness building on retail media platforms, ultimately solving the fragmentation challenge.  

“How can we start getting to use cases that help us with more of this omni-look across the whole consumer journey and bringing that together? I think that's where we'd like to start experimenting — of getting to those kinds of insights beyond just say, audience overlap insights, which are great, but there's more to come.”