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Episode 10 –
Discussing the World of Data Without Third-Party Cookies With Nick Jordan of Narrative I/O

RESOURCE CENTER   ❯   Identity Revolution Podcast 4-27-21

Episode Summary

It’s the end of the third-party cookie as we know it. Undoubtedly, Google is priming new strategies including the launch of FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts). But what is FLoC exactly, and how does it stack up to third-party cookies? Today’s guest has some answers.

Nick Jordan is the Founder of Narrative I/O, a data streaming platform that simplifies the buying and selling of information by eliminating the inefficiencies in data transactions. Their goal is to fuel cutting-edge data strategies, monetize valuable data assets, and power innovation and growth. With a background in computer science and broad experience in product management, Nick worked for some of the world’s largest technology companies, Adobe and Yahoo.

“One of my superpowers has always been able to sort of bridge between the business and the technology side. And I think as you think of data, as a subset of technology, that’s become incredibly important to my career path,” says our guest.

In this episode of the Identity Revolution podcast, our host Cory Davis and guest Nick Jordan talk about the post-cookie era, the future of data collection, and Google’s new technology advancements.


Nick Jordan
  • Name: Nick Jordan
  • What he does: Nick is the Founder of Narrative I/O, a data streaming platform that simplifies the buying and selling of information. Prior to starting Narrative I/O, he worked for leading companies like Yahoo and Adobe.
  • Company: Narrative I/O
  • Key Quote: “We ultimately chose the term data streaming platform because we see what we do very similar to what Spotify or Netflix does around content. We’re trying to do the same thing around data.”
  • Where to find Nick: LinkedIn | Twitter

Key Insights

  • Narrative I/O is a data streaming platform that does with data what Netflix and Spotify do with content. The term “data streaming platform” can mean many different things depending on how you look at it. Nick explains what it means for their company and why they chose that term. “That in some ways encompasses how easy we want it to be for companies to buy and sell data to each other. We’d love to have the entire corpus of information that’s been generated in the history of the world available on our platform. Let the folks that are generating that bring it to market and in a very streamlined and easy way. Allow the people that want to acquire that data to do it in a way that’s just as easy as it is to stream a song on Spotify.”
  • What is Google’s FLoC, and how does it affect the Ad Tech industry? FLoC is going to be put out by Google as their alternative to third-party cookies. Nick explains the technique behind it and shares his perspective on the new mechanism.

    “The browser will store all of the data that historically might have been stored with the advertisers, the publishers, or technology companies. But the browser becomes the database that stores all of the information about the user. And you can write to that database as an advertiser, as a publisher, or as a technology company, but you can’t lead from that database. You can’t say, what are all the pieces of data we’ve collected about this user?”

    According to Nick, FLoC could change the landscape as we know by not allowing anyone else but Google to set the rules.

  • Change in business is inevitable, but there’s no need to fear it. Thinking about the future of leveraging data, cookies, and ad tech, Nick says that the only thing companies can do is take a deep breath and stay the course. Changes are going to happen. That’s just how the world works. Tech giants like Google and Apple will continue to innovate. The question is, what can other companies do about it?

    “There’s uncertainty, and people don’t like uncertainty, but I would largely say stay the course. And any changes that happen are going to happen over time. And there will largely be solutions to those changes.”

Episode Highlights

How he started Narrative I/O to solve his own problem

“I think most decisions in humanity are driven around humans being inherently lazy. I said, ‘Certainly, someone has solved this problem, and I’m going to find that solution because I need it.’ And unfortunately, no such solution existed in the form that I was looking for it.

And then, I started Narrative to help solve that problem. So I went from trying to be lazy to doing what is arguably the least intelligent thing to do if you want to be lazy, which is start a company.”

The future of leveraging data and how it can go beyond marketing and advertising

“So it is predominantly marketing and advertising today, although it was meant to be general-purpose. And we have a product launch in Q2 of 2021. In the next couple of months, that’s gonna allow the platform to be used for any dataset.

And so we started with marketing and advertising use cases for a couple of reasons. It was my background, so it was a space I understood well. There was a ton of both buy-side and sell-side demand within that market. You could argue that the advertising industry is always on the leading edge of how data is leveraged.”

Google’s FLoC could create anti-competitive rules for everyone, including the ad tech industry

“If I’m a clever data scientist and I think there’s a better way to build those cohorts or think there’s a better solution than cohorts themselves, there’s not a mechanism by which I can implement that because everything happens within the browser. And so to me, and this is true with a lot of the privacy-related stuff that happens around Ad Tech is you almost get into an anti-competitive landscape, which has its own legal problems for the people that are implementing it. And I think this extends beyond FLoC and the data ecosystem.”

Top quotes:

[3:14] “We ultimately chose the term data streaming platform because we see what we do very similar to what Spotify or Netflix does around content. We’re trying to do the same thing around data.”

[04:28] “We think data is incredibly important to the modern enterprise. We think it’s only getting more important as our technologies get more sophisticated.”

[9:50] “The thing that struck out to me that I don’t think I had fully appreciated before I went through the exercise is how much it ends the ability for anyone to innovate. It’s Google that is creating the rules about what the browser does. And maybe even more importantly, the rules around the math of how the cohorts are created.”

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