SRAX readies its BIG platform so users can make money from their data
The new service offers data management, transparency and sales and attempts to make users beneficiaries of their own info.
User data, which has become very valuable for advertisers and publishers, may now become valuable to the one remaining stakeholder.
That is, to users themselves.
This week, SRAX (formerly Social Reality, Inc. and pronounced “serrax”) joined the efforts to make that happen. It has started internal testing on a blockchain-based consumer data management and distribution system. A closed beta is expected within a month.
Founded in 2010, the LA-based firm has previously operated a supply-side platform, a data management platform, a social content management tool and a marketing and ad platform.
Called BIG (for Blockchain Identification Graph), the new platform offers a mobile app and a website app for consumers.
A user creates an account through either app and adds existing social media networks or loyalty programs that they’ve joined. The app collects data from those programs and adds new data, such as location check-ins, plus the user creates a data profile with additional info. Here are sample screens from the mobile app:
The user data, COO Kristoffer Nelson told me, is only made available to advertisers, data management platforms or ad exchanges with specific user consent. SRAX sales teams sell the data but only provide access to anonymized cookie IDs, mobile device IDs and similar tags, not to the user data itself. He added that the user data always stays with SRAX so that there is no possibility of data leakage to multiple vendors.
Users grant consent for particular use cases, such as specific campaigns, and they can opt out of any use whenever they like. Initially, Nelson said, the data will only be employed for ad targeting. A brand could upload their customer list and request matching with SRAX members via email addresses or other points of reference, but users in the SRAX database would have to give their consent first.
Users get blockchain-generated BIG tokens for signing and filling out data, as well as for the sale of their data. The tokens can be redeemed for a share of a revenue pool from data sales, which is part of the total revenue; the rest of the income goes to SRAX.
The tokens can be exercised like options, based on their current monetary value, and redeemed at any point — even if the user has stopped allowing their data to be sold.
Nelson said that his company believes BIG “will be worth people’s time.” But, since the market is just being established, he declined to specify how much money a user could make.
He noted that similar ventures have paid users only for data sales, while SRAX will also be paying users for signing up and adding their own data.
Accommodating ‘Right to Be Forgotten’
While the blockchain is designed to make transparent and permanent any data usage and transactions, Nelson said it can also accommodate requests for complete data removal, such as the “Right to Be Forgotten” under the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Anonymized identifiers on the blockchain, recording every transaction, point to the actual user data in a conventional database. But if a user requests that their data be removed, the identifier becomes “decoupled” from the wiped personal data and cannot be re-identified.
This is not the first effort to monetize user data for users. Nelson pointed to differences between his own company and competitors Datum and Data Wallet.
The former, he said, is a blockchain-based marketplace with data sales, but consumers pay a small fee to participate, and the platform does not support data management. The latter company, he said, has multiple exchanges created by advertisers, so there is more work involved for users.
By contrast, he pointed to SRAX offering data management, transparency and sales and his company’s experience in those areas.
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