By Anthony Ha. This article originally appeared in TechCrunch on April 13, 2017.
We hear a lot about our online data being bought and sold by advertisers, but Narrative founder and CEO Nick Jordan said the actual process remains “incredibly cumbersome.”
And he should know, since he’s spent years in the adtech world, most recently as an executive at Tapad. Jordan explained that from the data buyer’s perspective, you have to go out and strike “one-off” deals with a long list of different providers — as he put it, “There’s no one-stop shop.” And if you’re looking to sell data, you’ve got to figure out how to package and price it.
“There’s a pent-up demand for folks looking to buy data, and a pent-up supply of people looking to sell data,” he said. “For the data economy to have less friction, we need to give tools to both the buyers and sellers to help them find each other easily and let them easily integrate with each other.”
That’s what Narrative is providing, with a marketplace where data buyers can find sellers and bid on their data, and where sellers can manage all of their transactions.
The startup is announcing that it has raised $2.25 million across two seed rounds of funding, with investors including XSeed Capital, Kiwi Ventures, C2 Ventures, Amobee’s Kim Reed Perell and Adelphic co-founder Jennifer Lum.
“Simply put, trading on all types of data and streamlining the pipes between demand and supply is way overdue and will solve tons of pain points for publishers and advertisers,” C2’s Chris Cunningham told me via email.
Jordan added that Narrative is different from a data management platform, which packages data in a way that’s usable by advertisers — though he said the potential confusion is “one of the challenges for Narrative as a business.” So the company is currently describing its approach as “data commercialization.”
He also argued that while Narrative’s initial focus has been on adtech, the platform could be useful far beyond that industry. For example, a commercial real estate firm working with a brick-and-mortar retailer could purchase data that helps them choose where to open their next business.
Of course, privacy advocates might not be quite as excited about a company that makes it easier to buy and sell data. However, Jordan said Narrative performs a “pretty thorough review” to make sure the businesses selling data are following applicable laws and best practices. And whereas a traditional transaction might involve “a number of opaque intermediaries,” Narrative creates a transparent connection between buyers and sellers, so “much more rigor can be put into privacy and compliance.”