Varick Builds Data Management Platform

Partners with eXelate on proprietary software

Media buyers typically hire outside tech companies to manage all the data their campaigns funnel back to them. After all, agencies aren’t usually in the business of building technology, so it often makes more business sense to turn to an ad tech company like BlueKai, which offers a robust data management platform (DMP).

But the agency trading desk Varick Media Management is going another route. The company is building its own in-house DMP.

“We use multiple [demand-side platforms to buy ads] across all campaigns. When you do that, you’ve got data all over the place, so you need some way [like a DMP] to unify it and bring that campaign data together,” said Jeremy Hlavacek, Varick’s vp of strategy and business operations. Hlavacek likened that unified data set to “our master file cabinet where we keep every detail of every campaign even run. That’s too important to be in someone else’s hands.”

Over the last year, the MDC Partners-owned firm has had a team of engineers build a proprietary DMP. That product, called The Lens, is paired with an internal pixel server so that Varick can track its online display and video ad campaigns across the various DSPs and plug the resulting data into one central data repository that the agency controls.

Varick had reviewed the third-party DMP products in market late last year but concluded that they were designed more specifically for an end-client to connect with their customer information as opposed to a media agency lacking access to that CRM data, Hlavacek said. Besides, he said, Varick’s data was too important and long-term an asset to outsource to an external company that could pivot into another business or be acquired by a larger company in the short term.

But Varick isn’t entirely on its own. Within the last two months, the trading desk has partnered with the data provider eXelate to match its campaign data against eXelate’s in order to unearth campaign insights, such as who its audience is and how that audience is performing and changing over time, Hlavacek explained. eXelate’s chief revenue officer Damian Garbaccio likened his company’s role to the fuel that lets an automobile (in this case, Varick’s platform) run.

eXelate pools data from sources such as online publishers and offline companies like Nielsen and MasterCard. The company then crunches that data to compile audience segments for Varick to then target with ads. Both Garbaccio and Hlavacek described the deal between the two companies as unique because “it’s almost like a deal signed by two tech companies,” in Hlavacek’s words.

“We’re trying to take the trading desk business in a different direction, to insights, strategy and branding as opposed to [only] direct-response,” said Hlavacek.