Knotch raises $25m to help Marketers collect content data.

Established in 2012, Knotch are an independent content intelligence platform designed to help CMOs measure and impact the outcome of their content efforts.

In a round led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Knotch announced on Tuesday that they had raised a further $25M in series B funding, taking the total amount raised to a huge $34 million.

Along with the financial backing comes some heavyweight additions to their top table.  NEA’s senior Venture Partner, Hilarie Koplow-McAdams has joined the Knotch board of Directors alongside Rob Norman, the former chief digital officer of ad giant GroupM.

When it first started out, Knotch was a consumer product where customers were able to share their opinions using a colour scale.  In the last 6 years, they have evolved. Now a data and marketing company, they have stuck close to their roots; still collecting data using the colour based feedback model.  These days though, the focus has shifted somewhat. It uses the same system to gather consumer response to sponsored content.

Additionally, Knotch offers a competitive intelligence product as well as Blueprint, a tool for marketers who want to find the best topics, formats and partners to reach their desired audience.

Koplow- McAdams seems excited about both her new role and NEA’s investment.  In a statement released this week, she remarked that;

“Our conviction around the Knotch platform and team is driven by their impressive traction and comprehensive product offerings. We’re thrilled to partner with Knotch as they continue their growth trajectory, providing transformative marketing intelligence at scale.”

In evidence of this ambition, CEO Anda Gansca has a mission that goes beyond sponsored content.   She acknowledges the need for businesses to use their data and distribute relevant content on the correct channels to stay ahead of the game.    She notes:

“In this convoluted landscape, you need a partner that is going to be your Switzerland of data, who’s aligned with you, collecting transparent digital performance data across paid and own channels”.

Knotch have some significant alignments in place already…JP Morgan Chase, AT&T, Ally Bank, Ford, Calvin Klein and Salesforce are all customers of the platform.  

Content is something which is changing.  Written content is being replaced by more dynamic mediums…video content, for example, is on the rise. Although exciting, the results that can be garnered from these methodologies are somewhat unknown. Audience engagement data is priceless if companies are to optimise their content and capitalise on their investments.  Digitalisation is an ongoing phenomenon. It will keep progressing and will continue to move forward. New techniques and skills will be needed to capture and engage an audience.

Here at Ignite Digital, we have been successfully placing digital marketing professionals for many years.  We have noticed that our client’s requirements have changed to accommodate the constant shift in trends. With this in mind, investment in data collation platforms such as Knotch will be crucial if companies are to be insightful- staying both relevant and competitive.

Avinew raises $5M for car insurance that rewards drivers for using autonomous safety features.

On Wednesday it was announced that California based technology insurance startup Avinew have raised $5m in a seed financing round.  They offer motor insurance coverage to those who own cars equipped with advanced safety features.

This round has been led by Crosscut, with support from American Family Ventures, Draper Frontier, and RPM Ventures.  To date, Avinew have completed proof-of-concept pilots with two insurers ahead of a launch across a selection of U.S. states this year.  

Autonomous vehicle premiums are expected to generate around $81 billion by the end of 2026.  Avinew hope that a sizeable chunk of this will come from their model.

Avinew offer a usage-based insurance program which employs an AI-driven mobile app to collect telematics data and detect when semi-autonomous or autonomous features are “responsibly” engaged.  From this data, it determines whether policyholders are eligible for a discount on their premiums.

It seems that customers would also welcome policies which reward auto-pilot usage.  During the pilot tests, nearly 7 in 10 participating Tesla drivers said they’d consider switching to an insurance policy that included such discounts.  

Crosscut’s Managing Director, Rick Smith endorses this sentiment.  He states;

“Avinew is well on its way to bringing auto insurance programs to market that will incentivise and inspire consumers to embrace and use new auto tech in their daily lives. It’s a tremendous opportunity.”

The surge in the autonomous car market has been a catalyst of change for the insurance industry.  More and more traditional automotive manufacturers are adding autonomous or semi-autonomous features to their vehicles. Cars which can effectively drive themselves have raised questions around responsibility and culpability.  Indeed, who IS at fault if an autonomous vehicle is involved in an accident? The driver? The manufacturer? The software supplier?

User-Based Insurance is not a new product per se.  Traditional insurance companies have been incorporating these policy models for some time.  However, UBI in the autonomous car space is a fairly new concept, but one we at Ignite Digital Talent think will underpin insurance schemes in this market going forward

Insurances for these vehicles is an area that remains hazy, but one which needs to be verified.  Ambiguity will lead to lengthy legal battles and a torrent of claims, both genuine and fraudulent.  A product such as this that uses user data in order to provide answers to the unanswerable will be invaluable.

25% of jobs are at “high risk” of being automated.

According to a study carried out by the Brookings Insitute, as much as one-quarter of US jobs are at “high risk” of automisation.  Roles in transportation, food prep, production and office admin are among those at highest risk, with activities involving processing, data collection and physical labour most at risk. Indeed, it has been estimated that robotics and Artificial Intelligence will threaten in the region of 70% of these tasks.  

Unsurprisingly, the study suggests that it will be the most vulnerable groups of society that are most affected.  The young, the less educated and minority groups commonly have a higher representation of employees within these sectors, and as such will bear the brunt in the face of the significant challenges ahead.

Robotics and AI look set to be THE disruptive trend over 2019 and beyond.  They will deliver our food, check us into hotels, mow our lawns and (if Sony have their way) monitor our sick and elderly.   News such as this has been a long time coming, and there is an element of inevitability about it.  Speaking after the results of the survey were released, Brookings has suggested that government and industry chiefs can help prepare the workforce for the effects of automatisation.  By educating and developing skills among existing workers, it is hoped that the impact can be reduced.

Facebook have been offering teens £15 per month to monitor their phones.

Questionable ethical behaviour is an area that has plagued Facebook over recent years, and this week it appears that there is more speculation over their integrity.

This week, it has been widely reported that Facebook have been paying teenagers for complete access to their mobile phones.  It would appear that talk really is cheap.  As little as £15 was exchanged for the readership of emails and private messaging within other apps as well as insights into their browsing habits.

The social media giant targetted users between the ages of 13 and 35, installing an app on their devices which continuously monitored their behaviour;  an apparent effort to gather information about its competitors.

The project, known as Atlas is indicative of just how far Facebook are willing to go to collect data on its rivals, while the age of the sample suggests that Facebook are deeply concerned about monitoring the online behaviour of teenagers and young people.  Some research shows that this demographic are deserting its main app.

Unsurprisingly, security experts are up in arms about this latest revelation.  One went so far as to call it “appalling”, saying that is was so extensive as to render getting the informed consent of under-aged users almost impossible.   

After the program’s existence became public, Facebook attempted to defend it.  They disclosed that it had been stopped on all Apple devices, without saying why.   Facebook already have testy relations with Apple. This latest disclosure looks set to disrupt it even further.   Last year, Apple had to ban a similar Facebook app for being too invasive. It is unsurprising then that this latest app had been designed to circumvent Apple’s app store.   At the time of writing, Apple have not commented on whether they would be taking action against Facebook Research.

Facebook, however, have deigned to comment.  One particular spokeswoman claimed that there was nothing underhand about their research, stating that “Key facts about this market research program are being ignored,” and that “It wasn’t ‘spying’ as all of the people who signed up to participate went through a clear onboarding process asking for their permission and were paid to participate”. Finally, she defended the age range of the sample by remarking that “less than 5 per cent of the people who chose to participate in this market research program were teens – all of them with signed parental consent forms.”

Whether you choose to give Facebook the benefit of the doubt on this occasion, it can’t be denied that they are running out of goodwill.  

How far would you allow the big tech companies to go in accessing your data?   Would a quick £15 be enough to entice you into ticking a consent box?

We’d love to hear your thoughts.  Please leave your comments below!


About the author: I work hard to find the best opportunities for my candidates and the best talent for my clients. My honest and pragmatic approach helps me to build lasting relationships and deliver real value.  I have extensive experience helping organisations overcome their critical challenges in the digital environment, and have worked with everything from start-ups to major global brands.

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