Neutronian aims to bring clarity and trust to marketing data

Affinity Answers becomes the latest data provider with Neutronian Certification.

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Last week, Affinity Answers, the social engagement data provider, joined the ranks of Neutronian certified vendors, alongside Eyeota, Øptimus Analytics, ShareThis and TVision.

“Affinity Answers’ approach to creating brand affinity audiences, leveraging contextual indicators and sentiment from anonymized social profiles, proves that data providers can utilize social media data in a privacy conscious manner,” said Neutronian co-founder and CEO Timur Yarnall in a release.

Taming the wild west. Seeking to bring clarity and trust to what has been called the ‘wild west’ of data collection and trading is a major challenge. We asked Yarnall to explain the thinking behind the new initiative.

“The vision is to be the equivalent of a credit score or a bond rating for marketing data,” said Yarnall. “We think that’s very important for the health of the eco-system, and ultimately good for consumers as well. It’s important, because all of us in the eco-system know that there are low quality data sets and data providers out there — and low quality can mean anything from unethically harvested to inaccurate data.”

Both ethics and quality. The twin focus, on ethics and quality, is critical. “Non-compliance is one big problem for a marketer,” Yarnall said. “The emergence of GDPR and CCPA are reactions to that, and for the whole eco-system that results in massive compliance spend and massive compliance risk. The other problem is just bad performance on campaigns — mis-targeted ads, third party data masquerading as first-party data, etc.”

In addition to the vendors already announced, Yarnall says there are another 10 to 15 in the process of being certified. “We don’t talk about who’s in the process. We never talk about who has failed either: our focus is to highlight the good actors in the eco-system. We don’t want this to turn into a conversation where we’re naming and shaming the bad actors. There’s been enough of that in the eco-system already.”

Neutronian requires data providers to reveal their full source list to clear the certification. “That is sensitive data, but like a financial auditor we don’t disclose that to anyone.”

Acceleration under COVID. The company and the platform were launched at the end of February, just before the COVID shut down. “COVID has actually accelerated our business. The pandemic brought things to a halt for many, but the shift to digital as a result has highlighted the lack of a quality framework.”

The approaching death of third-party cookies is also driving demand. “The possible solution is for brands, publishers and data providers to leverage their first-party data. That means, mix your first-party data with other data sets so you can get to scale. Without a quality framework like Neutronian, what are you mixing it with?”

Why we care. It’s a perfect storm for the data industry. Brands leaning heavily into digital marketing are placing huge reliance on customer data. Regulatory initiatives are making that data harder to collect, increasing the temptation to supplement first-party data with whatever else is out there. Compliance and quality need to be watchwords for data providers, and Neutronian is seeing to provide a framework for showing that to be the case.

About the author

Kim Davis
Kim Davis is currently editor at large at MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for almost three decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space. He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020. Shortly thereafter he joined Third Door Media as Editorial Director at MarTech.

Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.

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