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Why I am so excited about InfoSum

My company Canton has been engaging with InfoSum software for about a year now. In that time, I have seen the business progress from great potential to delivering against some of the biggest challenges in the industry.

Today, I am proud to be working with InfoSum on customer consultancy. I think InfoSum can help take the industry move forward in this time of transition.

In simple terms, InfoSum makes it easy for brands to collaborate on first party data in a privacy by design world. This opens up huge opportunities for brands in advertising, personalisation, measurement and insights. Indeed, InfoSum has the potential to facilitate a new ecosystem for advertising allowing data-driven targeting and measurement beyond the death of the cookie.

Historically, for brands to collaborate on data, it would have involved bringing all their data together and sending it to the recipient, without even being sure if it will be of value. It goes without saying that the sending of personal data is problematic. Instead, brands store their first party data in a secure InfoSum bunker that has privacy by design baked in. From there, collaboration, control and cooperation are at the brand's fingertips and the power of the data can be safely unlocked.

First party ecosystem

A key part of being able to collaborate on first party data is having a data ecosystem to use effectively. In the previous generation of third party data marketplaces based on cookies, there was not sufficient transparency on where data came from. This made it impossible to be sure that consent was granted. In a privacy by design world, brands will be able to seamlessly develop second party relationships with other brands and data companies’ first party data. For instance, an auto company in the UK can develop a data relationship with the top auto publishers.

A company selling flights can work with travel publishers but also potentially hotels, car hire, travel insurance and money transfer businesses. Data owners will have a real opportunity to drive value from their data in ever more sophisticated ways. It is this collaboration from brands that mean that far from being at a disadvantage, the next generation of media campaigns will be able to use data in a better way than ever before. All of this can be tied to a consent framework that allows for the rights of the consumer to be respected.

Media activation

Such a data-driven world is nothing without effective activation. Again, the new world brought in by the likes of InfoSum has a big advantage over the world of the third party cookie. Whereas cookies were only really effective in display on PCs, first party data can be used across all channels that users log into. This potentially opens up the walled gardens, mobile, social, video, connected tv and more.

    1. Customer campaigns: There are three main ways this can occur in all channels. When an advertiser works with a publisher they will be able to understand how their audience overlaps. This can then form the basis of a customer campaign (if desired).

    2. Prospecting: This will be driven by lookalikes from the first party audiences. Publishers will also be able to calculate lookalikes from how customer audiences overlap with their own audience categories. If a newspaper group sees high overlap in their travel category with an advertiser then this and more complex methodology can drive successful prospecting campaigns. The use of external data providers to categorise users into profiles (such as affluent city dwellers) can aid the prospecting profiling and accuracy. Recency of purchase can be used to model users at the bottom of the purchase funnel.

    3. Brand: Very similar to prospecting however with a broader net across the advertisers desired target audience and longer form more impactful media for users earlier in the buying process.

This process allows brands a consistent audience buying process across multiple channels. For channels that do not have a login, this same data can be modelled to location and time for a consistent omnichannel approach.

Measurement

Online measurement systems from ad servers to analytics have a high reliance on cookies. This way of measuring is under threat as third party cookies disappear. Fortunately, InfoSum’s data clean room combined with the data ecosystem offers a potential solution.

The way it works is that an advertiser would create a segment of their new and recent purchasers. At the same time, publishers would declare which users they had offered targeting too. Since this data is held in a clean room neither side can the individuals yet it is possible to measure the overlap of these new groups.

This form of measurement also frees brands up from being overly reliant on the media owners or vendors for data through cooperation. This potentially means FMCG companies could become direct response advertisers and all advertisers can tie their sales channel data together.

Through providing an independent measurement ecosystem InfoSum can greatly assist the industry and publishers particularly by being able to highlight the value of their audiences and environments.

Identity

InfoSum enables a federated view of identity. That means that rather than having identity owned by one central body (be it a company, consortium or industry body) identity is held by any number of separate brands with which the user has a relationship. Crucially, personally identifiable information then does not move between these separate brands. No data movement and no sharing removes the need for trust while simultaneously unlocking more information than ever before. It also opens up much wider potential scale as identity is not limited by any one source's reach.

This has big advantages for privacy and legislation, particularly GDPR when compared with a centralised approach. It is very hard for one central body to gain consent at scale and also operates as a single point of failure.

Privacy by design

InfoSum is built from the ground up with the vision of privacy by design. The platform has developed a number of different patents and concepts to ensure its technology enables best possible privacy controls and consumer confidence.

Differential privacy is a method of enabling sensitive personal data to be used in analysis while ensuring no information is ever exposed that can be used to identify an individual. InfoSum employs various differential privacy concepts to protect individuals present in data from being identified through analysis.

Results are getting rounded down, meaning introducing a single, or a small number of individuals through granular queries will not cause the result to change.

For example, continuing the previous query, there are 1,035 individuals located in Hampshire in the data, but the rounding is set to 50, so this will return a result of 1,000.

Noise Addition A small level of purposeful inaccuracy is inserted into the results to ensure analysis can’t expose an individual. For example, if an attacker adds individuals he suspects are located in Hampshire to the dataset one-by-one and keeps re-running the previous query; without noise, the attacker can expect the result to jump to 1050 once 15 are added. With noise, this becomes unpredictable, so it is impossible to identify which added individuals are located in Hampshire.

Rate Limiting A limit is placed on the number of queries that can be executed against a single dataset, avoiding the over-collection of data through repeated analysis.

For example, if a user is attempting to execute multiple queries with very minor changes to try to identify if the individual lived in Hampshire, they will hit a limit and no longer be able to query the dataset(s).

Final thoughts

We are entering a new era of advertising with the end of third party cookies. Indeed there has been a lot of talk in the industry of the huge challenges this brings up. InfoSum have produced tools that can meet this challenge head on and ensure Advertisers can run better media campaigns and publishers can be remunerated for their quality audiences and environments. I am sure you will agree that such potential gains are worthy of excitement.

Robert Webster, co-founder at Canton Marketing Solutions.

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