Go To Market Analysis for Data Markets & Data Brokers on Ocean Protocol

Scott Milat
6 min readJul 17, 2021

Market research by Dr. Mark Siebert & Scott Milat

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash


The idea that data has value, is not new. Tech giants like Facebook, Google and Amazon have leveraged data to build the largest businesses in the world.

But Ocean Protocol does things a bit differently and makes data a new ‘asset class’. Ocean hopes this novel approach will put more control back in the hands of individuals.

As an example, Ocean could enable you to start getting paid for your web browsing data. Google profits from this data and you currently give it to them for free.

Ocean Protocol enables this by linking data to a token (using the Ethereum Blockchain). The owner of the data can create a ‘data token’ and set the rules for how the data can be accessed. The user of that data token can then access the data based on those rules.

The value of the data token comes from the value of the data it enables you to access.

Having only been released in 2020 this technology is very new and still in the early, experimental stages. At the core of Ocean’s long-term sustainability however is the act of buying and selling data.

Buying and selling data is a growing industry in the Web2 world. We wanted to take learnings from this and generate insights to help speed up the go-to-market phase for data markets and data brokers planning to buy and sell data with Ocean Protocol.

Our Approach

We conducted user interviews and analysed a number of existing reports to gain insights into which buyers are most likely to purchase data from Ocean markets rather than going anywhere else.

Our objective was not to produce another academic report but instead to extract practical guidance for the developers and business people building on Ocean Protocol.

We intend for these findings to be viewed as strategic guidance, helping those in the Ocean ecosystem find buyers for their datasets.

The research was conducted by Dr. Mark Siebert and Scott Milat. It took place over 2–3 months (part-time) in mid 2021. We took these learnings and generated 5 articles (including this one) summarising our findings along with a list of 500 prospective data buyers. If you would like access to this list, please make a request through the Ocean DAO’s discord channel.

Summary of Findings

A framework for identifying buyers for your datasets.

We analysed the market to identify filtering criteria you can use to quickly identify the market segments that have a higher likelihood of purchasing your data.

We have created a guide to help you use this framework and came up with two key filtering criteria, summarised below.

The primary filtering criteria are:

  1. How the entity purchases their data (indirect or direct)
  2. The size of the entity (e.g. big organisation or smaller venture)

The secondary filtering criteria are:

  1. The ‘data maturity’ of the industry
  2. The ‘crypto maturity’ of the entity

We have created a detailed guide to using this framework here.

Aggregators & Intermediaries are data buyers too

We soon learnt that data changes hands through multiple aggregators and intermediaries before reaching its final buyer, and these aggregators and intermediaries are also buyers too.

While the ideal scenario for many of these entities (Ocean included) is to eventually access the customer directly, this is a time consuming, expensive and difficult outcome to achieve.

We believe an interim step is necessary.

These indirect data buyers have data acquisition at their core and are therefore more interesting for Ocean markets & brokers.

Large aggregators and intermediaries often drive their own standards, whereas smaller and mid-sized intermediaries tend to look for a competitive edge. These smaller & mid-sized intermediaries are an ideal target group for Ocean’s initiatives.

Data Quality and Security are King

Data quality and security kept surfacing as common themes in the interviews and desk research we did.

If you’re planning on building or publishing datasets on an ocean market, your focus needs to be on acquiring high quality data and ensuring it’s held securely, protecting any personal or sensitive information.

This can’t be overlooked.

Learnings from Web2 Data Markets

  • Many Web2 data markets are cloud based centralised platforms or simply online data catalogues linking back to the initial data provider.
  • We saw data markets enable deeper insights and improve data relevance for their users by successfully targeting a niche.
  • ‘Data acquisition’ is an established role within more data mature organisations. These types of data transactions tend to happen in trusted partner environments (i.e. data brokers) rather than going through online data portals (i.e. data markets).
  • We heard from a data consultant who was interested in selling newly collected data they had collected for a client. For them to publish this data legally, negotiations are required. Unfortunately due to their client not really being organisationally structured to set this type of arrangement up, it is yet to go ahead.
  • We identified a number of other key learnings from the existing web2 data market throughout our research and summarised them in this article, 7 lessons Web3 data markets can learn from the Web2 data economy.

How do we take these learnings and enable the buyer side to play a bigger role within the Ocean DAO?

We identified the following areas which may help promote the buyer side further within the Ocean DAO.

  1. Test assumptions around intermediaries as key data buyers. Attempt to establish a pilot project when the time is right.
  2. Build bridges between Web2 and Web3 data markets.
  3. Using the filtering criteria mentioned above, we could begin asking DAO proposals to include their target buyer segment when applying for the ‘unleash data’ category. This would help form a common language and understanding around their go-to-market approach.
  4. Acquire high quality datasets and promote them to publicise the benefits of Ocean Protocol (e.g. compute to data, dataunions etc).

Further Research Findings

This is one of 5 articles that was published from this research. Links to the remaining articles can be found below.

This work was made possible thanks to the Ocean DAO and created as part of our research proposal looking into which buyers are most likely to purchase data from Ocean markets rather than going anywhere else.


EU Data Market Monitoring Tool — Final study 2020: https://datalandscape.eu/sites/default/files/report/D2.9_EDM_Final_study_report_16.06.2020_IDC_pdf.pdf

EU Data Strategy, 2020: https://ec.europa.eu/info/strategy/priorities-2019-2024/europe-fit-digital-age/european-data-strategy_en

Datamarket research:

Data requirements