Publishers have a host of data on their users but nothing is done with most of it. Publishers recognize the value of this data but they’ve had no efficient way to securely monetize and profit from it at scale. Traverse Data provides the outlet for this data for publishers by linking them to AdTech companies that are willing to pay, offering publishers an 80/20 split of the proceeds. Founded by a serial entrepreneur with an exit to Experian under his belt, Traverse Data is paving the way for more compelling economics for publishers while providing the AdTech industry with the valuable data it needs to thrive.
AlleyWatch spoke with CEO Craig Swerdloff about the Startup and how they are taking advantage of the untapped data market.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We raised $1M from a syndicate of friends and angel investors, mostly in NY!
Tell us about your product or service.
We provide a secure and reliable way to license deterministic data from publishers to ad tech companies for use in building cross-device products and services. Deterministic data refers to a connection between a user and a device that they use to access the internet, and our privacy-conscious methods de-identify the data to protect our publisher partners from data leakage.
As online publishers began seeing a decline in advertising and subscription revenues, they started looking for methods to use their data as an asset. Traditional methods involved ad tech companies taking advantage of by undercompensating them for their data, however. They were not getting their fair share of the value from this incredibly powerful data that connects people to their devices. So, we decided to help publishers capture more value and revenue.
How is it different?
We’re focused on creating value for publishers. Our 80/20 revenue share model helps to align our interests with the publishers’. We also use privacy-conscious methods such as pixel monitoring, de-identifying personal information, protecting publishers from data leakage, etc. Additionally, our data is 100% deterministic, (as opposed to probabilistic), which indicates data accuracy.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
We are positioned as the largest independent provider of 100% deterministic data in the market. The market for identifying users across devices includes all online marketing and advertising, outside the “walled gardens” of Facebook, Apple and Google.
What’s your business model?
We charge the ad tech companies we license the data to on a cost per thousand (CPM) basis, and then pass 80% of the revenue back to publishers.
Can you speak about the other companies you have founded?
Hockey Ad Network in 2008
LeadSpend (sold to Experian in 2013)
What was the funding process like?
It took longer than expected, but I’m super excited about the quality of the investor group.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
Valuation was the biggest challenge. Two of our competitors were bought just as the valuation process was getting started, for astronomically high valuations. While you would think this was a very good thing for us, it actually made the process of setting a valuation more difficult.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
Strong, experienced management team in a growing sector of the ad tech and mar tech industries.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
We expect to grow our reach from 150M unique users tied to devices, to 250M. We’re also live with a proof of concept on a new product that we hope to fully launch in the market in Q3.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
Act like you’ll never have the money. Part of a CEO’s job is to make sure the company never runs out of money. If you assume you won’t raise a dime, you’ll be better served in the long-run.
Where is your favorite destination in the city?
Does Montauk count? I also like running on the West Side Highway down to Battery Park.