Narrative 101: What Is Narrative?

Learn what Narrative does and how it's changing the way data is transacted

What is Narrative? How are businesses using Narrative? And what's next for Narrative?

"Narrative 101" is a 3-part video series in which we break down everything you need to know about Narrative: what we do, how we're being used, and where we're headed next.

In the first video of the series, Narrative founder and CEO Nick Jordan sits down with Joe Apprendi, General Partner at Revel, a Narrative investor, to discuss what Narrative does and his impetus for starting the company. Watch the video or read the interview below for answers to the following questions:

Class is now in session.

What is Narrative?

Joe Apprendi: Tell me about Narrative.

Nick Jordan: Narrative is a fairly early stage company. We've been around for a couple years. We're building software that helps empower the data economy. We're bringing organizations that need data to build better, more successful companies together with organizations that have a lot of data that are looking for ways to monetize it, and letting them work together seamlessly, efficiently, and most importantly, directly. We're getting rid of the traditional model of data brokerage by bringing buyers and sellers together directly, and making it easy through software.

What gap in the market is Narrative filling?

Joe Apprendi: So, obviously, there's a lot of players in the market. You've got CDPs, you've got the CRM solutions, you've got DMPs. And, clearly, you have the data exchanges that have predated you. Certainly, you've got a long term perspective on that, and obviously have applied that to this solution. But, what gap or what problem, or maybe even more importantly, what market trend or enterprise insight really drove you to say, "Now's the time for Narrative"?

Nick Jordan: Well, actually the idea for Narrative came in my previous role. I ran product and strategy at a company called Tapad, and we had 10 data scientists on staff. Those data scientists were always coming to me as the Head of Product saying, "We need more data. The data that we have is great, but it's not sufficient to build great machine learning or AI models."

When a data scientist asks for that, what they're really looking for is data right out of the ground, something that hasn't gone through someone else's black box—raw data, unfiltered, unaggregated, uninferred, untouched.

A lot of those solutions that you talked about, that have served the ecosystem historically, have touched the data, aggregated the data, and simplified the data in some ways. This makes it easy to use, but also removes some of the value. When you simplify data, you remove the optionality of all of the other things you might want to do with it.

Another way that we think about things is, circa 2010 and before, data really had to be human-scaled. Data was going to be interpreted by a human—it was going to be put into an Excel spreadsheet or maybe an Oracle database if we're really getting complicated.

But with the advent of Hadoop and other big data frameworks and the rise of data science, data now needs to be machine-scale and not human-scale. The types of data, and the size, scale, and utility of data is very different if a human is going to use it versus if a machine is going to use it.

The ecosystem has really grown up to solve the human-scale data problem, but we don't see a lot of people that are solving the machine-scale data problem. That's really where we fit in.

What type of company can benefit from using Narrative?

Joe Apprendi: Is there any specific application that enterprises are adopting today that you're drafting behind, that they have to have this for them to clearly leverage what Narrative has to offer?

Nick Jordan: We find that organizations that have data science, data engineering, or data product teams, are great candidates for us. Almost all of our customers operate a data lake, or a data warehouse, by which they are using the data. Oftentimes, they are taking data from the buy side of our platform and pushing it into those systems.

Customers that have CDPs and DMPs and DSPs and all of the other things are also potential candidates, but they really do have to be data savvy. We find that if our customers are looking for an off-the-shelf, easy-button solution, that tends to not be us. We work with more sophisticated organizations that are really trying to upgrade their data strategy overall.

What's the difference between the software and marketplace aspects of the product?

Joe Apprendi: The core of your platform is a marketplace. You've got a buy side that wants to leverage the data for targeting, analytics, or predictive modeling purposes. Then, you've got the sell side that has the data that can inform whatever the buyers are going to do with the data. How do you think about the marketplace versus the software side of your business?

Nick Jordan: If you would have talked to me three years ago about this, I probably would have used the term marketplace a hundred times in the three questions that you've asked. Really, that does sit at the center of our offering. It provides instant liquidity to the buy side and the sell side.

But we've had customers on both sides come to us and say, "We've done a bunch of direct deals, or we plan to do a bunch of direct deals, where we don't need your marketplace, but we still need the tools to manage, optimize, report on, and be compliant on those same deals. Can we use your tools? Can we use your services? Can we use your pipes to do that?" So we started building a bunch of things around the marketplace to make that whole process easier.

You can think of the marketplace as optionally where the rubber meets the road. That's where buying and selling happen, but you can also do deals outside of our marketplace that still flow through our platform.

If you're a procurement team that needs someone to fill out a data security questionnaire, instead of sending them a PDF and then someone filling it out and faxing it back to you, we'll give you a workflow where you can ask the questions you need from a compliance perspective within our software.

If you're a seller that's trying to optimally price what your data is worth, we have pricing and yield optimization tools that you can use before you put data into the marketplace.

If you're a finance team and you just want to see how much money you made last month, and what you're forecasted to make this month, we have tools for the finance team to do that. And then we'll take your actual revenue and push it into your backend systems.

People are really thinking of the SaaS side of our offering as their platform of record for acquisition and monetization.

If you want to learn how Narrative's solutions can help your company simplify their data acquisition and monetization strategy, send us a message—we'd love to chat.

Want to learn more? Read part two of Narrative 101 to discover how companies are using Narrative to power their data strategies, and part three to learn about Narrative's plans for the future.

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