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Alternative Data Providers: Where to Get Alternative Data for Unique Insights

November 23, 2021
by
Elianne Marcus

Financial institutions are turning more and more to alternative data to predict how the investment market will change from day to day. This data can be all kinds of things: weather, foot traffic, social media trends, news analysis, online transactions, mobile app use, and more.

But where do you find all of this information? Or, to put it more specifically: where do you find this information in a form that’s ready to analyze and pull insights from without needing a bunch of preparatory organization work? That’s what we’ll attempt to answer here by pointing you towards some of the top alternative data providers in business today. Here’s what’s inside:

  • What to look for in an alternative data provider
  • 8 top alternative data providers: leveraging data for deeper insights

Before we get into the best places to get alternative data from, we’ll start with some questions and considerations to keep in mind when evaluating an alternative data source.

What to look for in an alternative data provider

Not all alternative data companies are equal, at least not for your specific investing strategy. There are a number of factors you should consider when choosing who to source your data from, including the following:

  • Scope – You want to make sure the data provider you choose has a large enough sample size. If your data pool is too small (e.g. constrained to too specific a transaction type or too short a time period), you could accidentally identify what appears to be a unique trend, when a more wide-angle look would tell you that it’s simply an anomaly.
  • Cost – On the other hand, you don’t want to go too wide and incorporate data that isn’t conceivably relevant to the sectors you’re thinking of investing in. You want your data to generate more worth than what you invested in it, so be sure to buy only the data you need. Otherwise, you risk going on a wild goose chase for insights that don’t actually exist, or that have no relevance to your strategy. And that can cost you a lot of wasted time and money.
  • AccuracyInaccurate data can lead to costly mistakes, especially in the financial sector where the stakes are often very high. Buy-side and sell-side analysts both need to make detailed reports with recommendations on whether to buy or sell investments. So the data they use to make those reports needs to be correct.
  • Freshness – Even if data is accurate, it may not be as valuable if it doesn’t reflect current real-world conditions. Up-to-date data gives analysts an edge when making their reports, as it ensures they are making financial decisions with the most recent information available.
  • Interoperability – Alternative data is almost always more powerful when connected with other alternative datasets. This is because investment decisions often need to be evaluated from multiple angles, and with various factors taken into account. Datasets that can be easily joined or related to each other make analyzing alternative data that much easier. For example, Placekey provides a standard for identifying places on Earth while avoiding the problem of having to match addresses that use different formats and conventions.
  • Detailed attribution – The more information analysts have at their fingertips, the more precise and comprehensive their recommendations can be. Alternative datasets with many detailed attributes give analysts more to work with when generating their models and reports.

Here are a few other specific questions you may want to ask alternative data suppliers (or at least yourself) before you buy:

  • Is the supplier the primary source of the data? If not, have they processed or filtered the data in any way, or offered it as-is? How might this affect how you interpret it?
  • Is the particular type of data you’re looking for available from multiple sources, or only a few? What makes a certain provider unique?
  • What does a particular dataset actually represent, and how does that specifically relate to a problem you’re trying to solve or a question you want answered?
  • What relationships or patterns can a certain dataset show you, either explicitly or implicitly? What assumptions might you be making about this?
  • Based on how a dataset is presented, how much time and processing work will be required to convert it into a usable state?
  • Based on what you determine a dataset can (and can’t) tell you, can you think of some other creative uses for it?

8 top alternative data providers: leveraging data for deeper insights

There’s a lot to think about when trying to get the alternative data that’s right for you. But we don’t want you to get too overwhelmed with considerations and conditions that you end up with “paralysis by analysis”. To give you an idea of what’s out there so you can get started on finding the alternative data you need, here’s a list of some of the top alternative data companies.

1. SafeGraph

Cost: up to $0.05/record; charged on a per-dataset basis

Major data types: points of interest, building footprints, foot traffic

Key use cases: retail investment, consumer insights, risk assessment, real estate investment

SafeGraph is one of the top alternative data providers for points of interest and human mobility. Our datasets include detailed information and accurate spatial representations of millions of commercial buildings, historic monuments, and other landmarks across the US, UK, and Canada. We also provide data on foot traffic around millions of points of interest in the US and Canada, letting you see where people come from, how long they stay, and where they go next.

Use our data to build consumer profiles, monitor the performance of (and relationships between) stores and brands, assess liability for insurance purposes, and more.

2. HARNESS Data 

Cost: $0.005/record; charged on a per-dataset basis

Major data types: internal documents and communication, address, property, points of interest

Major use cases: real estate investment, insurance risk assessment, logistics planning, fraud prevention

Harness Data provides three distinct services. First, their PDFx tool allows for extracting actionable data points out of PDF files. This can include elements such as images, contact information, organization names, tables & schedules, and more.

Next, their AddressM tool provides address matching services. Mostly, this helps you see if differently-formatted addresses refer to the same place. You can also use it to find out if a place pointed to by an address even exists.

Finally, their “Addressable” dataset is the most comprehensive database on commercial properties in the UK. As a sample, they also offer a free database of price per square meter (PPSM) data for over 17 million properties across England and Wales.

All of this information is ideal for investing in real estate, assessing property liability, planning precise logistics, rooting out fraud, and more.

3. Veraset

Cost: contact for pricing

Major data types: foot traffic, visit attribution

Key use cases: retail investment, real estate investment

Veraset provides two sets of alternative data: Movements and Visits. Movements uses multiple sources to get an estimate of human traffic around points of interest in over 150 countries around the world. Meanwhile, its Visits dataset combines foot traffic data with polygons of over 6 million points of interest in the US to show how much patronage a business is getting. 

Both of these datasets can be compared against company financial information to form predictive models about how they will do in the future, long before it becomes news.

4. Transparent

Cost: $0.05/record; charged on a per-dataset basis

Major data types: vacation rental properties

Key use cases: real estate investment, hotel competitor research, tourism marketing

The short-term rental market has exploded since the introduction of rental property booking websites like Airbnb and HomeAway. With that in mind, Transparent was created to provide a granular breakdown of what’s on the rental housing market. They have data on over 35 million listings worldwide across all the major property booking companies, including over 50 attributes like address, property type, number of bedrooms, amenities, pricing, and more.

This data is great for those looking to invest in real estate, but it’s also helpful for those keeping an eye on the tourism industry. It can even be used to see what kind of competition hotels in a particular area have.

5. Vertical Knowledge

Cost: $800-$7,000/month (average is $2,500-$3,000/month)

Major data types: automotive transactions, online transactions, home rentals, company metrics

Key use cases: real estate investment, automotive investment, equity research, employment trends

Vertical Knowledge stands out among alternative data vendors by specializing in the privacy-compliant collection of publicly-available information on the internet. They also provide a platform on which to filter and process this data so you can gain actionable financial insights. Their datasets include things like best-selling books, car rentals and purchases, air and sea travel, and short-term home rentals.

These kinds of datasets could be useful if you’re investing in the automotive, aviation, nautical, or real estate industries. Or maybe you just want to get a read on public sentiment about what’s hot and what’s not.

6. Greenwich.HR

Cost: $0.05/record; charged on a per-dataset basis

Major data types: financial, employment

Key use cases: workforce analytics, talent acquisition and management

In addition to having standard financial data, Greenwich.HR is one of a handful of alternative data firms that has data on corporate hiring practices. Their comprehensive database has information on jobs from over 5 million companies in over 200 countries worldwide, spread out over 85,000 different job attributes (including ~80% completion rate on pay data).

It’s another way to get a faster and different perspective on companies’ financial outlooks by seeing how many people they’re hiring, what positions they’re hiring for, how much they’re paying their employees, and much more. Of course, you can also use this data in an inwards-facing capacity to make sure that your own organization remains competitive in the labor market.

7. Infutor

Cost: $8,000-$10,000/month

Major data types: real estate, automotive transactions, consumer demographics, email

Key use cases: equity research, automotive investment, consumer insights, real estate investment

If you’re looking to get a read on how people in the US are spending their money, look no further than Infutor. They’re a leader in US consumer identity management and resolution, combining precise property profiles with numerous customer demographic attributes. Their alternative data gives an accurate view of who US consumers are, where they’re shopping, and what they’re buying.

Their property data can also be useful for real estate prospectors who want to see who’s in the market and where they’re moving. And Infutor also has automotive transaction data for those looking to invest in car and truck manufacturers. Watch our webinar with Infutor to see how alternative data can improve property analytics.

8. ClimateCheck

Cost: $0.05/record, charged on a per-dataset basis

Major data types: environment, weather, real estate

Key use cases: real estate investment, risk assessment

ClimateCheck is a unique entry in our list of alternative data providers. It combines US property data with historical weather and climate data, processed through over 25 aggregated international climate change models. The end result is a sophisticated dataset on how vulnerable different areas of the US are to natural disasters caused by climate change. These include heat waves, wildfires, violent storms, droughts, and floods. That’s useful information for risk management when investing in real estate or writing insurance policies.



Valuable alternative data is out there; you just need to know where to look to find enough of it nicely packaged and ready to go. On that note, if you’re wondering if geospatial data on points of interest and foot traffic could be useful to your financial analytics, check out SafeGraph to try out some samples.

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