Telcos and Data Monetization: Data Privacy is Holding Us Back

Data PrivacyThe days when analytics and big data were strange concepts are far behind us, and companies now acknowledge the importance and positive impact they can have in various operations. From the delineation of business models to the optimization of marketing strategies and the creation of new revenue streams, collected and analyzed granular customer data generates a new growth potential that wasn’t available before.

When it comes to telecom operators, they have a gold mine in their hands. Telcos have access to customer data like almost no other vertical does. This knowledge is used to build new ways to connect with its customers. However, with such precious data available that can be fundamental to other businesses, it would be a waste not to try and make a profit out of it. Take Telefonica’s example: with 300 million customers worldwide, the Spanish company realized they actually have 300 million first-party data relationships they can monetize from and are working towards it.

Some telcos have already started putting the wheels in motions and are investing in the software, hardware and skills needed to implement these plans – case in point: Ericsson is testing a mobile ads platform to combine data from telco operators to enhance advertising targeting.

However, the path isn’t as easy as it sounds. Without seriously considering data privacy as the foundation of the solution, the gold pot can easily turn into a nightmare, as TeBit 2016 Executive Report clearly states.


Data Privacy: The major setback


Telcos have access to all kinds of customer data and are constantly collecting information about its users, such as location and usage data. However, other useful and insightful types of information – financial and social environment, for example, also have great potential to generate revenue – are available too but are not likely to be used, even when captured, and that is only due to unease. With a permanent connection to such sensitive customer information and with customers being more and more worried about their data privacy, telcos must be extremely careful when selling their information, since it is riskier than only using it in-house.

This carefulness, although legitimate and necessary, is putting a brake on Telcos’ business strategies, since it is unclear how customers and regulators will react to the establishment of new revenue streams through data monetization: the TeBit Executive Report states that, although 89% of Telcos enact data privacy policies, only 49% of customers are aware of how their data is being used.

On the other hand, 50% of the participants’ data revenue already comes from the sale of insight to third parties, thus it is a fact that data monetization can be an important asset, and jumping from only using data for internal purposes – like optimization of marketing campaigns -, to generating new revenue streams is a small step. But one that must be carefully taken.

Telcos are one of the verticals with most potential to monetize data but, at the same time, they have the responsibility to set boundaries and learn where their limits are. Trust is an important matter and one Telcos want to maintain at all costs.

The path ahead seems to be the creation of business models that comply with the data privacy standards law requires and customers are expecting, and developing all the means necessary to put it into action, be it by acquiring new technology – like the ShiftForward Private DMP, that allows clients to store and treat all the customer data in-house –, by choosing new data sources to collect and use or by simply creating new privacy policies that complement the company’s objectives instead of setting them back.

Growing and Learning Together at Founders Founders

ShiftForward moved into the Founders House one and a half years ago and time went by way too quickly. It was a period of intense growth for us and we couldn’t be more satisfied with all the progress we achieved until now (and that we will still accomplish). The support of the Founders community was quite a boost to get us where we are today.

The Founders House [credit: Filipa Brito]

The Founders House [credits: Filipa Brito/CMPorto]

ShiftForward started its activity at UPTEC, the Science and Technology Park of University of Porto, an incubator that supports knowledge transfer between the university and businesses. We immediately started developing in a steady pace and it eventually came to a point where our business matured to a level where we needed more to continue expanding. More challenges means more space and more people. But the contact and the comradery with other startups that UPTEC facilitated was not something we were willing to give up on and that’s how Founders Founders came to be. 

Our CEO, Paulo Cunha, joined four other founders – Rui Couto (MusicVerb), Filipe Costa (Infraspeak), Afonso Santos (TUIZZI) and Tiago Carvalho (LabOrders) – and, together, they looked for a place to call home and create a new community where startups in a more advanced business state could create roots and thrive. The place turned out to be a former criminal court – yes, there still are jail cells in the basement – but, from the very first moment, the potential was there and ShiftForward was the first  to move in and get comfortable.

ShiftForward's new office in the making at the Founders House

ShiftForward’s new office in the making at the Founders House

ShiftForward's new office at the Founders House

ShiftForward’s new office at the Founders House

A year and a half later, Founders Founders just had its official inauguration and so did our office! We’re infinitely proud of being part of this project. When you gather 13 startups with a similar mindset under one roof only exciting things can happen. There are no boundaries for innovation and creativity, ideas flow around and solving problems is much easier with the experience of the other entrepreneurs sharing the same space. Learning opportunities are around the corner, whether it is just by having a cup of coffee with at Founders Café or by attending one of the many events organized by the community – like the Tech Talks, where the ShiftForward engineers already shared their expertise a few times.

Founders Founders is now a true community, a collaborative environment for businesses to develop and achieve new heights and the perfect place for ShiftForward to call home.

The 4 Data Trends You Need to Know About in 2017

The world of digital marketing is constantly evolving and, every now and then, new trends appear that set the tone for the environment. When it comes to data, some of the challenges of the past are still prominent nowadays and, although the market is aware of them, the path to finding solutions is still long. We at ShiftForward always try to keep track of the most recent trends but when coming across the 2015 article “Four key data trends affecting the digital marketing industry“, with the participation of Ben Rhodes, the director of customer marketing for Royal Mail, it was pretty evident that the worries of yesterday still matter today.

Focused on data understanding, using data to anticipate business/consumer needs and demands, real-time applications and capability, the four highlighted main trends are still fundamental in 2017 to get the most valuable outcome from customer data and understand how each of them can work in your favour.


1. Data understanding: all the factors to a severe headache.

It is no secret that, for the past few yearsCan-Predictive-Data-Anticipate-Workers-Comp-Decisions-300x213, marketers have been trying to collect as much data about customers as possible. The problem is that collecting big data does not necessarily mean it will be put to good use: there is a need to analyse the compiled information to turn it into the most profitable knowledge. You have probably been trying to do that the usual way: from excel sheets reports to data analysts feasting on customer data, trying to narrow it down efficiently. If you are knowledgeable enough, you have also tried the next step: having someone segment the information for you, allowing you to jump a few steps ahead and predict who is most likely to buy your products (men between 18 and 35 that buy a lot of shirts? You have never thought of that, had you?). Here is the problem: that segment is indeed really narrow and that’s the only one you are aiming at now; can’t women buy shirts for themselves or their better half? Yes, you could probably broaden the search but who has time to run the long tail and pick all the people that would effectively buy your product?

Trusting the machine may be your best choice: machine learning is the right path for the future and already the present to a few – remember when Target figured out a woman was pregnant before she even told her family? Yes, she can blame machine learning. Betting in algorithms that do all the work and don’t aim at demographics, geo or whatsoever, just at whoever is going to buy the product, is a trend already happening. See it like this: take every data analyst and put them into a big box so they analyse every excel sheet there ever was and when they gather every possible buyer, all you have to do is shoot a campaign at them.

Seems like an impossible goal? Amazon already does it, Google already does it, why shouldn’t everybody do it? Well, it requires a lot of work and people to develop such a tool. It is an herculean task but not an inconceivable one. It all comes down to deciding what is the best option for you. Sharing your data with third-parties that carry out machine learning for you can be the easiest solution. On the other hand, if you prize owning the intelligence or are concerned about data privacy, creating your own machine learning system or acquiring tech that allows it – like an in-house private DMP – may be the best option. Either way you decide to go, there are already solutions available in the market. Lack of technology is no longer a valid excuse to not rely on your collected data to understand your customers.


2. Using data to anticipate business/consumer needs and demands: what took us so long to get here?

Amazon already showed us the best recommendations that can be made to a customer and the potential return. Wouldn’t it be great to know if your customer is thinking about abandoning that nice shopping cart (and have something happen to stop that)? And what if you could use your customer’s former purchases to foresee what he will be buying in a few months?

Fortunately, predicting customer behaviour using customer-centric usage data is a trend that came to stay. It is now a standard marketing approach to many businesses, like e-commerce or streaming services – how do you think Spotify generates your daily mixes? – to use previously gathered data in order to predict how customers are going to behave and what might be of interest to them: suggesting similar products to the ones previously bought, sending reminders of products still in the shopping cart or offering special sales crafted specifically for each user, for example. This allows a more personalised and accurate marketing strategy, where each customer is treated as a single individual and its needs and demands are met independently.


3. Real-time applications: this one should be a no-brainer.

Another pain point you also know too well is real-time. As it struggles to become a standard digital marketing feature, since we are done with excel sheets, the next question in line is: how do you get this to fully work in your advantage? Essentially, what real-time allows you to do is to customise your campaign to a specific type of user; now, if you just shoot a random campaign at a client knowing almost nothing about what he wants, real-time will be of no use and you might as well not even bother; but if you do that after knowing him a little (say, by using their data to segment him into a group and then following his journey), things might work a little more your way.

However, the least time you consume having your perfect customer tailored, the faster you will reach him. The swifter your predictions are, the quicker you get to the client. And this means resorting to the most state-of-the-art technology (and, for god’s sake, let it be easy to use too), because it cannot take you as much time as it used to take to get there.


4. Capability: a set of never ending questions.

Approaching the subject of data capability wasn’t easy in 2015 and still isn’t today. The questions that plagued companies still matter in the present: who is the most capable to manage and exploit your customer data to its fullest potential, the IT team, the marketers or a joined force? Should data be treated and turned into intelligence in-house or should you outsource it? Answers to these questions are not linear or common to all cases, it depends on each company’s structure and circumstances. But there’s a trend rising.

Data privacy is an ever-present theme which importance has been growing. Consumer trust is fundamental to any company’s reputation and you certainly don’t want to have customers bad-mouthing you regarding lack of safety. Government’s are also implementing more strict and protective laws where data is concerned. This is leading to businesses keeping their data to themselves, meaning no information is given away for others to use it. Having an IT team focused on data management and creating or acquiring in-house solutions is a growing trend, especially for businesses that deal with extremely sensible customer information. Data capability is now directly intertwined with data privacy.


Your own customer data is, ultimately, one of your biggest advantages in the market you’re inserted in. Understanding the intricacies that define the data world, as well as keeping up with the rise and fall of trends is essential to any organisation that constantly endeavours in this world. Getting your data to its fullest potential is both a responsibility and an advantage, and it’s solely in your hands to take it one step further.

Tech Talk: Implementing a Key-Value Store for Fun (and Profit?)

The new year of 2017 kicked off greatly at Founders Founders. The first Tech Tech Talk, one of the many events organized each month that brings the community together, was about implementing a key-value store, be it for fun or even profit (we know, very techy, but what would you expect from a “Tech Talk”?). It was delivered by our very own André Silva, responsible for the idea and all the set up behind the presentation and, we swear we’re not being bias, he totally rocked it.



However, we surely don’t want you to miss anything! You can check André’s presentation below and, who knows, maybe even store, retrieve, and manage associative arrays through the implementation of your own key-value store.

Tech talks are one of ShiftForward’s ways to share knowledge with others and their own. One of our developers prepares a subject, presents it, and debate ensues. Feel free to join the discussion in the comments’ section!

Use Case: The Cautious Audience Data Provider

Having a large amount of granular data at hand can be an excellent source of new revenue streams. However, when it comes to data providing, it is important to be cautious and keep control of your own intelligence. For more details, check our cautious audience data provider use case.

Your company is sitting on a pile of granular location and CRM data. On the other hand, there’s another company that would very much like to know their potential customer’s demographics and whereabouts but it has no way to gather that kind of information on its own.

To provide geo and demographic information to another company to use in their digital marketing execution, you first need to onboard and push your anonymized segment information to the audience buyer’s platform of choice. In the meantime, and since keeping customer trust up is core, you must bear in mind that giving away control over data is not an option.

The ShiftForward Private DMP is the perfect fit for this situation. For starters, it allows you to tackle the onboarding system, aggregating data from every CRM system and filling the information voids there might be. Furthermore, since customer segments were created on-site, it is now easier to integrate your and other company’s information while making sure that no identifiable customer information ever leaves your premises.

4 Essential Steps to a Successful Data Monetization Strategy

In the present digital world, data is easily available and gathered. Companies are now aware of the gold mine they have in their hands: underutilized unstructured granular customer data that, when treated and turned into intelligence, can be a new source of revenue. But starting to monetize data isn’t as straightforward or immediate as expected and there are some fundamental steps to be taken in order to implement the most prolific data monetization strategy.

1. Get acquainted with your data type and data sources.

271607011737BigdataDepending on the nature of data, there are different types of monetization that may apply; for instance, retail chains provide advertisers with client activity logs, allowing them to target ads more precisely; telcos own a lot of customer location information that may be useful to retail, financial services, advertising, public services, you name it. Knowing what data you can get from which sources is the first step towards knowledgeable data monetization.

2. Know what market need you are fulfilling.175620557

So, now you know exactly what data you hold that is monetizable, but does it really fit a market need? The good people at Eyeota publish an Annual Index on these matters that can give you a quick insight on what are the most interesting segments on the market nowadays.

3. Develop a legal strategy.

contractSure, giving the first steps in the field of data monetization can be a little scary and confusing. However, if you need legal help and orientation on the specifics, there are professionals and agencies, like ePrivacy, that specializes in privacy and data protection and supervises these kind of processes. It is the cornerstone to make sure everything will run smoothly.


4. Get the tech going.Marketing-Technology-Roadmap_

Yes, we know technical specification can get out of hand really easily, don’t they? Therefore, it is fundamental that your DMP technology, be it created from scratch by you or provided by a partner, is like an open book to you. Without the right kind of tech, that complements perfectly your needs and plans, trying to create new revenue streams out of data monetization will be a waste of time.


Fulfilling these four parameters is fundamental to assure you devise and implement a promising business model that creates real value from your data and open new revenue streams, that is your ultimate objective. Data monetization can become a real asset in the future, if working in the most swiftly way possible.

Use Case: The Underpowered Marketer

Multisource, unstructured data is an opportunity waiting to be harnessed. Although dealing with this kind of data isn’t as easy as it sounds, it isn’t impossible and you don’t have to feel like an underpowered marketer. For more details, check our underpowered marketer use case.

Your customer growth is happening across different channels, so you have the chance to sharpen up your strategy to target campaigns more accurately as you now have a lot of multisource, unstructured customer data – and you sure hope to find a good use for it.

The thing is, data comes in various forms and from various sources: you have your CRM for socio-demographic data and then ad impressions data coming from display and mobile, and then you have e-commerce interactions, and then your email marketing platform gathers open and clicks. There has to be an easy way to safely keep all of this under the same roof while making some sense out of every single one of these interactions.

The ShiftForward Private DMP is an easy, holistic way to have data coming from all your sources in the same place and make them talk to each other so you can track each customer from every source. And now that you gave the most complete customer profile possible, you can reach them in the most complete, accurate and profitable way. No more divination, no more inaccurate targeting. Your data, your audiences, under your control.

Why Relying on Data Management Run by Strangers Is Never A Good Idea

Trusting third-party providers to manage your data always means giving up a couple of things that are fairly relevant for any business, such as customization and security. And while customization only compromises the level of insightfulness and freedom a business enjoys, data security might compromise a much more complex and extensive range of features, eventually putting your company’s credibility at stake.
Resorting to third-party hosted DMP providers comprises a bunch of data security grey areas that range from not knowing whose privacy policy is being followed to being unaware of the extent to which your provider is co-mingling your data with others’ and using it to enhance your competitors’ targeting.
It may, therefore, be harmful to you in two ways: by damaging client relationship, since it might not comply with what customers believe they are signing for, and by compromising your business strategy, since giving your biggest asset away to your competitors (no matter how disguised your data might get) is never a good policy.

But there is even more to it: giving away data control also means that avoiding data leakage is not going to be your problem – and that is one problem you most certainly should want to have. And if leakage does occur it will not be supervised by you or your team: you will only be briefed as it happens.

We at ShiftForward have seen this loosening of criteria coming and decided to take the opposite way, assuming businesses would eventually come to the same conclusion we did. That’s why we have developed iron-clad products that not only run under the client’s infrastructure, giving them complete control over their data, but also why we have a single instance for each business, avoiding the mixing of data from different clients.
And if this sounds pretty straightforward, well, you’re right. The hard part involved in creating such a solution is what it requires in terms of workforce and investment. We are talking about a multi-system platform that requires a big and knowledgeable development team exclusively dedicated for a couple of years.
Businesses cannot do that and third-party providers don’t feel the need to do it either – it has worked their way for years, why should they starting bothering now? Why should they bother building more accountable products that would simply leave their scope, burying a very relevant and profitable part of their business model? Why would you kill the golden goose?
We at ShiftForward, on the other hand, believe that to keep complying with this kind of vague security features is to take part in a scheme of things that is as potentially harmful as it is certainly outdated. At ShiftForward, we take pride on trying to build a safer path for our clients to explore.

Exciting times at dmexco 2016

Earlier last month we headed off to Cologne to attend this year’s edition of dmexco, a global meeting point for the digital economy business. We had our own space at the Startup Village , where we were surrounded by some of the coolest newcomers in the area.




We were looking good


Our CEO, Paulo Cunha, also spoke at dmexco’s Startup Village Stage, making a “Case for Private DMPs”. The concept of a Private DMP, which was still foreign to many, sparked a lot of interest, prompting a bunch of attendees to reach out to us and ask for more information. “What exactly do you mean by private?” and “does that mean no one else will be able to access our data?” were some of the most frequent questions, especially from people coming from telcos, banking and e-commerce. Most people underlined the need to keep data easily accessible only to themselves at any time, and it was really satisfying to confirm that we hit the bullseye when we developed the Private DMP.

We found this year’s dmexco to be particularly international, with people from all around the globe, from well established markets, such as Japan, to emerging ones, like Brazil and Poland. It’s great to see that these markets are becoming aware it is imperative to keep up with major trends in tech, marketing and media.




Florian Heinemann with the ShiftForward team


All in all, dmexco was an excellent opportunity to meet clients, new and old players in the digiconomy world, discover some of the innovations in the area, create new business prospects and have some fun. It’s always great to see our friendly investors and supporters Florian Heinemann (pictured above) and Brian Fitzpatrick as well as reconnect with our extended ex-wunderloop family buddies like Riccardo Carbonelli (pictured below), Alain Sanjaume, Kasper Skou or Hans-Martin Winkler (pictured below).



Paulo, Riccardo Polizzy Carbonelli,Tiago_EDITED

Riccardo Carbonelli came to say hi



Hans-Martin Winkler_EDITED

Hans-Martin approves the ShiftForward shirt


AudienceScience’s New Partnership with ShiftForward AdForecaster Will Help Advertisers Plan Campaigns with Greater Confidence

London & New York, 26th September 2016AudienceScience, the maker of AudienceScience® Helios, the advertising automation software global brands use to plan, activate, and analyse addressable media, has selected ShiftForward AdForecaster as its partner for ad availability predictions. The integration of ShiftForward AdForecaster into AudienceScience’s platform will make it possible for advertisers to quickly and reliably estimate ad inventory availability in the coming days and weeks, so that they can confidently and accurately build their media plans ahead of time.  This bolsters AudienceScience’s mission to give global advertisers greater control and transparency across their automated digital advertising campaigns.

The partnership will fill a void that hinders media planning for the large number of marketers who are currently using guesswork to plan their media strategies. Without a precise tool to evaluate future ad inventory, many advertisers end up not spending their budgets as they are not sure about where or how they should be spending it.  Also, advertisers who don’t have access to accurate forecasting can face higher operational costs as they have to work to a day-by-day approach to media spend.

ShiftForward AdForecaster allows brands and agencies to accurately predict future ad impression traffic levels and campaign inventory availability using an unlimited number of targeting variables including: geography, keywords, key-values, cookies and multiple frequency capping groups at banner, booking, line item or campaign level.

In addition, with its enhanced ad forecasting capabilities, AudienceScience® Helios opens the way for advertisers to explore and experiment with new target audiences more easily. This is because ShiftForward AdForecaster provides an accurate forecast of how interesting new audiences are so that brands can broaden their reach with more confidence.

AudienceScience®’s robust SaaS-based advertising automation suite helps advertisers maximise viewable reach and maintain optimal relevancy of message, all while maintaining complete control and transparency of their media spend. To continue to deliver the most effective advertising to its clients, the company sought a solution that would allow advertisers to quickly and accurately anticipate targeted audience campaign reach at scale, in a context where volumes rise to trillions of ad opportunities evaluated every month.

ShiftForward was chosen due to the quality of its product, its excellent product fit and also because of the business goals it shares with AudienceScience: to help marketers regain control over their digital advertising strategy and improve ROI through the provision of a toolset that allows advertisers to manage their data assets and have full clarity on where their media is placed.

AudienceScience®’s Jeremy Mason, Vice President of Business Development, says of the partnership, “We saw an opportunity to work with a best in class partner to quickly deliver on a much sought-after feature from our advertisers,” adding that “ShiftForward’s solution not only answers our need, it also comes from a partner who cares as much as we do about simplifying and automating digital advertising, and empowering marketers to take control of their advertising.”
ShiftForward’s CEO, Paulo Cunha, is “thrilled to have the opportunity to work with AudienceScience® and its client roster of the world’s top advertisers together with the scale and performance challenges that come with it. Our team is very motivated to be joining such an exciting programme and we know ShiftForward AdForecaster will be a very useful asset to AudienceScience®.”