Cover by Edd Dumbill

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Chapter 7. Data Marketplaces

By Edd Dumbill

The sale of data is a venerable business, and has existed since the middle of the 19th century, when Paul Reuter began providing telegraphed stock exchange prices between Paris and London, and New York newspapers founded the Associated Press.

The web has facilitated a blossoming of information providers. As the ability to discover and exchange data improves, the need to rely on aggregators such as Bloomberg or Thomson Reuters is declining. This is a good thing: the business models of large aggregators do not readily scale to web startups, or casual use of data in analytics.

Instead, data is increasingly offered through online marketplaces: platforms that host data from publishers and offer it to consumers. This article provides an overview of the most mature data markets, and contrasts their different approaches and facilities.

What Do Marketplaces Do?

Most of the consumers of data from today’s marketplaces are developers. By adding another dataset to your own business data, you can create insight. To take an example from web analytics: by mixing an IP address database with the logs from your website, you can understand where your customers are coming from, then if you add demographic data to the mix, you have some idea of their socio-economic bracket and spending ability.

Such insight isn’t limited to analytic use only, you can use it to provide value back to a customer. For instance, by recommending restaurants local to the vicinity of a lunchtime ...

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