New Publishing Tech
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Q&A: InfoSum, striving to build a new world of interconnected data

InfoSum is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that enables businesses to harness the power of unified customer data, while maintaining control and privacy. Founded in 2016 by the ex-CEO of Datasift, Nick Halstead,
the company has raised $8 million in seed funding from some of the top US investors. WNIP caught up with Nick to find out more…

What business problem is your company addressing?

During my time at DataSift connecting social data, I came to a crucial realisation: the most valuable information companies have on their customers is often siloed. Data silos appeared to be a symptom of businesses diversifying their product range, or introducing new systems to their technology stack.  This means they aren’t able to effectively bring together and activate this knowledge.

Publishers, for instance, have rich stores of high quality audience data — but when these insights are divided, they can’t create the omni-channel understanding they need to offer precise and measurable targeting for advertisers.

At a wider level, silos also limit the ability to compete with the likes of Facebook or Google. The duopoly dominates digital ad spend, mostly due to the breadth of customer data it holds. To rival such scale, single publishers need to enhance their insight through collaboration. But there are challenges. Even though co-ops allow publishers to share resources and create a larger and deeper well of knowledge, lack of commercial trust and concerns about privacy are leading many to stick with restricted internal data instead of embracing co-op strength.

The situation must change. As the technology giants continue to take the lion’s share of ad revenue — a combined $168 billion this year — and browsers increasingly move to block third-party cookies, publishers should be making better use of their first-party data.

What is your core product addressing this problem?

Our platform is designed to remove the barriers currently capping the potential of data. Capable of unlocking customer insight across disparate sources without sharing any raw information, it keeps ownership firmly in the hands of data owners and protects individual privacy.

For publishers, this makes it possible to maximise their data. Internally, they can connect datasets to gain a 360-degree view of their audience: the ideal basis for content tailoring and building refined targeting segments that can be leveraged by advertisers. Externally, it enables secure co-operatives: publishers can make their data insights available to others for knowledge enrichment, and receive a wealth of insight in return. And the same applies to co-ops. By overcoming trust, data privacy and compliance obstacles, the platform paves a frictionless path to improving collective data muscle and market position.

We have a number of publisher clients, but unfortunately, due to the sensitive nature of the work and client confidentiality, they will have to remain nameless for now. We hope to have some case studies written in the not too distant future.

Pricing?

We believe every company should be able to make the most of its data. As a result, we offer an affordable usage-based subscription service.

What are other people doing in the space and why?

With increased data regulation has come an influx of tools aimed at helping publishers and advertisers ensure compliance, while retaining individual-level insight. But not all solutions place a strong enough emphasis on minimising privacy risk. There are serious commercial and legal risks associated with sharing data outside of an organisation, yet companies are still using this centralised approach.

Our platform aims to deliver the perfect balance. Data remains in its original location and is connected through mathematical models, meaning organisations can bring together their data sources without physically moving them into one single location. We do this for three reasons – security, reliability and commerciality.

How you do view the future?

With the arrival of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the threat of the ePrivacy Regulation, and browsers like Safari and Firefox now blocking third-party cookies, the industry’s reliance on this tracking method is reducing at an accelerated rate. Because of this, I anticipate publishers will be further prompted to re-evaluate the standard approaches to cross-site tracking and data collection, resulting in more logged-in experiences. This means partnerships such as The Ozone Project, which enable privacy-safe data collaboration, will become pivotal.

Anything else we should know?

InfoSum’s solution aims to reconfigure the data market.  For now, power belongs to a select few with extensive resources — but easing the flow of first and second-party data will create opportunities for others to thrive.

By providing a secure yet streamlined means of data collaboration, the platform is building an open environment where publishers, advertisers, and strategic partners are free to realise the full value of their assets; and connecting the globe one data point at a time.

Thanks.

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