InfoSum has raised $15.1 million in a funding round led by Upfront Ventures and IA Ventures as the VC outfits attempt to capitalize on shifting privacy requirements in the marketing industry.
The Series A round takes InfoSum’s total funding above $23 million with Brian Lesser, formerly the North American CEO of GroupM and more recently Xandr, now serving as its executive chairman.
InfoSum will use the funds to bolster its North American footprint, furthering its product engineering road map and is poised to embark on a recruitment drive in the region as well as in Europe.
The shifting requirements of data privacy legislation mean advertisers, media owners and intermediaries, such as agencies and tech vendors, must seek more encrypted means of matching audiences with brands.
InfoSum proposes to answer this requirement—exemplified by legislation such as the EU’s General Data Privacy Regulation and the California Consumer Privacy Act—with a solution it characterizes as a “decentralized marketing infrastructure.”
Nick Halstead, CEO of InfoSum, told Adweek the investment will also be used to improve its integration with different parts of the industry, including brands and media owners.
“Our infrastructure is for solving identity, privacy and trust [between businesses and consumers],” he said. “We don’t classify ourselves as ad tech; we sit across it. … A lot of the history of ad tech has meant that it’s seen as this weird, separate entity that sits over there and isn’t trustworthy, and that needs to change.”
Adopting a decentralized approach to identity is sometimes described as a process whereby market primaries, like advertisers and media owners, place their first-party data into a “secure bunker.” This helps minimize the risk of data leakage, as the data remains inside that bunker, and first parties work with outfits such as InfoSum, or its competitors, to more securely integrate demand and supply.
Until now, the default means of automated media trading involved centralizing data via processes such as online ad auctions, according to Halstead and Lesser, that have come under fire from high-profile politicians, some of whom were concerned that it can lead to personally identifying information, or PII, leaking to bad actors.
“Every major brand should have a bunker so that they can interoperate with everyone else in the market,” Halstead said.
Meanwhile, Lesser told Adweek the industry’s shifting tectonic plates around privacy is the thrust behind the decline of the cookie in internet browsers, not to mention Apple’s impactful iOS 14 rollouts.
“First-party data has been the fuel that drives every marketing program, or CRM, ever, that’s not new,” he said, adding the industry needs better infrastructure to enable collaboration.
“The industry has been historically reliant on what is at least a 10-year-old infrastructure. … Two companies go into their database, pull out the information, send it to a third party and just hope they do a good job of anonymizing the cookie and matching it to an identifier,” he said.