How Sincera uses Metabase embedding to provide their customers with digital advertising and media insights.

The Challenge: The Sincera team wanted to be able to provide their customers with rich datasets and give them the freedom to derive their own insights from the data. Building simple summary charts and providing raw data access was easy enough, but there was a “missing middle” that would enable their customers to dive deeper into data without needing to build out complex pivot tables or ingest data immediately into their own BI tool.

The Solution: Instead of building their visualization solution from scratch, Sincera decided to focus on building their core product and hand off the challenges of embedded analytics. After researching several options, Sincera chose Metabase due to its advanced permissions, easy-to-setup SSO integrations (IdP and JWT), and approachable, intuitive UI/UX that complemented their existing application.

The Results: With the help of Metabase, Sincera were able to easily present data to their customers. Customization helped match the look and feel of Sincera’s application and robust permissions allowed users to see the data they wanted and were entitled to without overwhelming them.

"Metabase was the embedded solution we were looking for - easy-to-integrate, customizable, and performant. It allowed us to free up resources to focus on other areas of product development while increasing customer satisfaction. "
Ian Meyers
Co-Founder at Sincera

Why Metabase

Writing SQL and providing custom CSVs over email was an unacceptable user experience for Sincera – they have a strong belief in transparency and self-service in their application, so they knew they needed to find a solution that would empower their customers to unlock their data.

But Sincera didn’t want to build an analytics solution from scratch; they’d rather focus on developing their product. “To benefit our customers, we would prefer to spend time on novel, domain-specific challenges rather than “solved” problems.”,- Ian Meyers, Co-Founder at Sincera.

Sincera spent a lot of time researching options that would meet their use case. This research included running open-source projects, opening trials, and reading documentation and reviews of leading solutions.

They chose Metabase because of its:

  1. Advanced permissions
  2. Intuitive UX
  3. SSO with JWT

The data

Sincera’s data is descriptive of the digital advertising and media landscape. The data covers everything from industry standards like ads.txt assets to novel datasets that describe the quality of consent collected by digital publishers. Sincera’s fleet of full-browser crawling engines and embeddable Javascript SDK load data into PostgreSQL databases.

How Sincera uses Metabase

Sincera uses Metabase to quickly turn questions and ideas into answers that can be immediately consumed by their customers, many of whom are in business development, technical product management, or operational roles (account managers).

Sincera’s customers work in media and advertising technology, and often have questions like:

  • What company should I partner with to build contextual segments?
  • Are my end users deploying my technology correctly?
  • How do publishers change their advertising based on geographic region?
  • Are advertisers placing their ad creative in environments that are safe from misinformation and ad clutter?

To set up Metabase, Sincera created a new page in their Rails web application to host Metabase’s dynamic iframes. To authenticate known users, Sincera created a set of new routes that Metabase could interact with to obtain a JWT generated by the web application to create and provision accounts. This setup ensures that only people with registered accounts with sufficient permission can access the more granular data provided in Metabase. Further, by passing group membership information in the JWT, Sincera can provision data specific to a customer.

Sincera initially seeded their Metabase instance with a number of dashboards and questions they thought could be interesting across their various data concentrations.

how sincera embeds metabase

Sincera’s customers tend to start simple, e.g., with a Sincera-defined dashboard, then become more comfortable using the data independently. For example, some customers consumed Sincera’s data about ad density (the number of advertisements on a single web page), then added their own additional filters to only look at publishers who deployed an up-to-date version of “header bidding” technology, and finally rebuilt the visualization from the ground up, tailored to their needs.

The results

Sincera’s customers were immediately pleased with the scale, accessibility, and speed of data assets in the application. Customization helped match the look and feel to Sincera’s application, so Metabase felt like just another component, rather than a clunky embed. Robust permissions allowed people to see their data without overwhelming them with irrelevant data.

“Presenting data is now more or less a solved problem, so we can focus on other areas of our business. “, - Ian Meyers.

Advice for others

It’s great to spend lots of time working on improving the readability and relationship between schemas – that planning and design will pay off in build mode. No one will be as familiar with your data schema as you are, so if you plan to allow for free exploration, you need to put in the work to ensure that the data model is approachable.

“For us, one of the biggest ‘unlocks’ provided by Metabase was less hand-holding, but to get to that point, we needed to spend time on semantics, documentation and, where necessary, refactoring.”, - says Ian.

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