Joe Root – Permutive


WHAT LED YOU TO START WORKING IN DIGITAL/MEDIA PUBLISHING?

I founded Permutive with my partner Tim Spratt while we were at Silicon Valley seed accelerator Y Combinator. We started out building personalisation technology for publishers to help them compete with Facebook and Twitter for engagement, but quickly realised the real problem we need to solve was much bigger – their CPMs were in freefall. This problem wasn’t being helped by the move to programmatic, which took the power out of publishers’ hands and ended up devaluing their data and pushing them to the bottom of the ad tech ecosystem.


HOW DID THIS LED YOU TO DEVELOP PERMUTIVE?

We thought the solution would be a data platform that put the power back in the hands of publishers. One that did not rely on cookies to function. Our platform was therefore designed from the ground up to help publishers. We were laser focussed on their challenges, as opposed to every other platform that was catering to the needs of advertisers. We wanted to help publishers to use their first-party data instead of having to rely on third-party data, allowing them to see up to 100% of their users, target in real-time, and differentiate their offering with powerful insights into their unique position, their high-quality content and equally highly-engaged audience.


WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?

Cancel alarm three times, roll out of bed at 7am, clear out my inbox with a coffee and then walk into the office at 9am. My day is pretty much an even split between interviewing for new hires, meeting with customers and prospects, and internal meetings. Usually, I finish up by 7pm and head home — on a perfect day, I spend the evening cooking with my girlfriend or with a Deliveroo in front of Netflix.

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WHAT DOES YOUR WORK SETUP LOOK LIKE? (YOUR APPS, PRODUCTIVITY TOOLS, ETC.)

I live in Gmail, Trello and the Apple Notes app — nothing else! I’ve never been able to stick to any of these supercharged GTD (Getting Things Done) processes, I always end up forgetting the steps required to make them work.


WHAT’S THE PROBLEM THAT YOU’RE PASSIONATELY TACKLING WITH PERMUTIVE AT THE MOMENT?

Simply put: scale! We want to help publishers to rebuild a privacy-compliant ad-tech ecosystem. So, we give publishers the ability to see and activate 100% visibility of their audiences. A large proportion of their audiences come from Google and Facebook, and from browsers like Safari and Firefox that block third-party cookies by default. The result is that around half (44%) of their audiences are effectively hidden from the advertising ecosystem, as there is no data about them.

Permutive’s technology, however, doesn’t rely on third-party cookies and so we can provide 100% visibility of a publisher’s audience. This can result in a 3 – 9x increase in audience visibility for some publishers. By opening up this audience, a publisher will see a huge boost in the number of impressions they are able to use for targeting. We have seen this lead to a 4x increase in data-driven advertising revenue.


CAN YOU GIVE SOME EXAMPLES OF PUBLISHERS SUCCESSFULLY USING YOUR SOLUTIONS?

Publishers using Permutive include Conde Nast International, BuzzFeed, The Economist, Hubert Burda Media and Immediate Media.


WITH SO MANY DATA MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS OUT THERE, WHAT DO YOU SEE THE FUTURE TO LOOK LIKE?

The way the advertising ecosystem has evolved means that publishers have moved from a world dominated by direct sales to one where their inventory is valued algorithmically using data from a third party.

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The future of DMPs has to be in helping publishers make more of their valuable and valued first-party data. DMPs today are designed with advertisers in mind and in such a system it is almost impossible for publishers to maximise the commercial potential of their data.

Permutive has been built from the ground up as a cookieless solution dedicated to publishers, giving them full control over their first-party data and putting the power back in their hands.

The future of DMPs also lies in Edge computing. If publishers are to rebuild ad-tech and earn their rightful place within it, the only way to do it is in a privacy-compliant manner and that means minimising the amount of data that enters the cloud.

With edge computing – quite literally the edge of the network – the data processing takes place on your actual device. It’s fast, reliable and completely private.

Permutive is built on edge computing. We don’t need to send data back-and-forth to cloud servers for processing. We process data where it is collected, on the user’s device, which is the only option in a privacy-first world.


DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR AMBITIOUS DIGITAL PUBLISHING AND MEDIA PROFESSIONALS LOOKING TO BUILD THEIR PRODUCT, NOT HAVING A TECH BACKGROUND?

Look for the problem! We spent too long building a solution where there was no real problem. If you can find a way to solve a real problem, you’ll be in with a great chance of success.

Focus on the one thing you know needs solving and find a way to do it better than anyone else.

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