Permutive Uses Data to Facilitate Billions of Events in Real-Time

Publishers and marketers around the globe are lining up for the services of Permutive, a U.K. based data management platform. Permutive helps publishers organize the data collected from visitors to a website and sort it into segments based on habits and interests. That helps publishers perform far more targeted advertising and make critical product improvements.

With 750,000 data points processing on their platform every minute, Permutive needed an analytics solution that could keep pace with its flood of incoming information. They turned to Sisense for Cloud Data Teams to maintain a constantly updated, real-time view at their data via embedded dashboards for their clients — in a way that didn’t require complex technical expertise to explore data.

Filters & Flexibility  

Data is the lifeblood of Permutive’s business. The more accurately they can use data to determine which users fall into specific behavioral groups, the more value they can provide to advertisers and publishers who use their service.

“With the large datasets we’re dealing with, you can’t really make any assumptions about what users are doing until you dig in and start querying,” said Imogen Lovera, Customer Support Analyst at Permutive. “For example, if we know someone’s interested in a certain sport, we’ve got to conduct more analysis to see what other things they’re interested in, whether the’re male or female, and so many other characteristics. We needed Sisense for Cloud Data Teams to harness the data we collect and analyze where those audiences overlap.”  

Permutive’s data lives in extremely complex tables within Google BigQuery, but they needed a way to organize that data, filter it properly and then visualize it for their clients. In 2016, Permutive’s Head of Customer Success, India Ferard, evaluated Sisense for Cloud Data Teams, and quickly began joining tables, creating charts, and combining data in ways she hadn’t been able to do anywhere else.

“We were really excited by all the features and functionality available in Sisense for Cloud Data Teams, especially the filters that make it really easy for us to create aggregate dashboards across our clients,” said Ferard. “It makes a huge difference for us — we have all these different clients, and we can change out not only the criteria we’re looking at, but quickly swap clients in and out of the dashboard on the same metrics to aggregate it all in an overview dashboard. That’s perfect for our use case.”

“It’s a really good way to interchanging publishers, allowing us to visualize the differences between two completely different data sets or between two publishers,” said Lovera. “There’s no way for us to visualize that directly in BigQuery. For us to go seamlessly between a client that sends in 1 million uniques to 200k uniques with one click of a button — that’s very powerful.”

Even the smallest details in Sisense for Cloud Data Teams make an impact. Lovera says the color schemes have made an impact for their clients.

“One of our clients has a very specific color scheme for that brand, and asked us to change the dashboards to reflect that so they can present these dashboards to their agencies and advertisers and stay on-brand,” said Lovera. “It’s a really nice way to let us adapt and make the visualizations more professional.”  

Something for Everyone

Lovera was brought on to be the go-to person in the company for creating analytics dashboards. The sales team, engineering, and customer success regularly asked for help visualizing and exploring their data.

“We used Sisense for Cloud Data Teams to drill down and show them the thousands of employees looking at their sites daily from sectors that mattered a lot… It really made an impression and we closed the deal that week. Once they saw Sisense for Cloud Data Teams’s analytics and the way they combine everything into one common source, that made all the difference.”

Imogen Lovera
Imogen Lovera, Analyst at Permutive

But she’s also responsible for external dashboards for Permutive’s clients. To provide that offering, Permutive has embedded Sisense for Cloud Data Teams dashboards directly in their product. The embedded dashboards are easy to create and share — as simple as copying and pasting a link. That’s a major differentiator for Permutive — their competitors can’t offer that same real-time access to data and require publishers to make individual requests each time they need more analysis conducted.

“It really puts the data into our clients’ hands to be able to use their own initiative and go in and look at their audiences without having to ask us all the time,” said Lovera. “Every time I go and see a client, they’re always getting excited and asking about different ways to visualize their data they’d never thought of before.”

The range of expertise in Permutive’s customer base ranges widely, from very technical users to those who barely understand how Permutive works. But with Sisense for Cloud Data Teams’ embedded dashboards and intuitive interface, there’s value for everyone.

“In some cases, we get technical folks who want to dig into BigQuery directly on their own — that’s fine — and then they often come back to us looking to put those insights in a table to visualize them in Sisense for Cloud Data Teams,” said Lovera. “Then there are others at the same companies who don’t know any SQL or have any technical knowledge, but I can walk them through the dashboards and empower them to gain insights just the same,” said Lovera.

In one recent case, the platform’s visualizations made a major impact on closing a new deal with a publisher. The prospective customer had been passively trialing Permutive for several months and was extremely hard to engage with. The sales team then turned to Lovera to create compelling visuals via Sisense for Cloud Data Teams for an upcoming meeting.

“They were pulling in a bunch of extra data, so we used Sisense for Cloud Data Teams to really drill down and show them the thousands of employees looking at their sites daily — pharmaceutical companies, and a bunch of other sectors that mattered a lot to them,” said Lovera. “When that was taken into the meeting, it really made an impression and we closed the deal that week. Once they saw the platform’s analytics and the way they combine everything into one common source, that made all the difference.”  

Simplicity, Ease of Use

When Lovera joined Permutive as a data analyst, she came from a scientific lab background and had very limited data management or analytics experience. But even though she’d never written a line of SQL, she was able to ramp up quickly in Sisense for Cloud Data Teams and take complete control of the company’s analytics workflow.

“I found Sisense for Cloud Data Teams very simple, quick, and easy to use,” said Lovera. “It’s really lovely to be able to write a query and turn it into anything that you want. It’s beautiful to visualize.”

As intuitive as Sisense for Cloud Data Teams has become, there are always situations where they need additional support. And in those situations, Lovera says the Sisense for Cloud Data Teams support team is always quick to respond via Intercom, even with the time difference for her in London.

“I’ve definitely used Sisense for Cloud Data Teams at 1 a.m. for things that need to get done the next day — it’s always really easy to get ahold of someone and chat through things,” said Lovera.

Moving forward, Lovera expects that as Permutive grows (they expect to nearly triple their headcount within a year) Sisense for Cloud Data Teams will be integrated even more widely across the company for internal use. The addition of new data discovery capabilities means new hires on the support team and sales team can be easily onboarded to Sisense for Cloud Data Teams and create more of their own dashboards.

And of course, Sisense for Cloud Data Teams also supports their engineering goals by enabling real-time analytics without using any of their valuable engineering resources.

“Engineering at the moment is so taken up with building our infrastructure because every time we onboard a new publisher, we’ve got another billion events coming in,” said Lovera. “So, having Sisense for Cloud Data Teams allows them to focus on software infrastructure as opposed to building out data analytics from scratch on their own.”