Gary Vaynerchuk’s Tracer wants marketers to stop wasting time with Excel

hand computer

Gary Vaynerchuk‘s communications company VaynerX has launched a new company to help marketers better analyze their campaigns across platforms. 

Called Tracer, the marketing data aggregation and reporting platform pulls in and visualizes a company’s media spending from all major platforms. The tool also can show ad verification, analytics partner data and offline conversion data, and it allows other custom labeling, the company said.

A team within VaynerX developed Tracer in May 2015 and has been using it for all media clients of digital agency VaynerMedia, including its sister company, lifestyle publisher PureWow. Earlier this year, VaynerX made Tracer a stand-alone company with 19 people working out of VaynerX’s headquarters in New York City’s Hudson Yards. Now, Tracer wants to license the platform to other agencies, publishers or businesses. 

There’s no guarantee in the success of an agency profiting from selling its own software. As Neal Arthur, managing director of Wieden+Kennedy New York, said, developing intellectual property is a “side job,” and it’s “really hard.” Indeed, media-buying aggregation software already exists, such as within Salesforce and other visualization tools like Looker. Many marketers still rely on a combination of tools and people typing into Microsoft Excel, though. For Vaynerchuk, it was time for his agency to create and use a better solution, going so far as to compare his venture to social media colossus Facebook.

Data aggregation platforms have been created, “but so were social networks. Facebook did it a lot better and built fucking Facebook,” Vaynerchuk said. “This is about measuring media efficiencies and creative. We saw the incrementality of the product as a market fit and knew that the smartest people in media buying today could understand the value.”

Jeff Nicholson, VaynerMedia’s chief media officer, who is now also being named Tracer’s chief executive officer and Leighton Welch, chief technology officer of Tracer, started building Tracer shortly after joining the agency in 2015. Welch was inspired to create a new solution in part from hearing how a friend of his had to “wake up at 5 a.m., log in to 10 platforms, pull all the data down, manually aggregate it and send an email” for his marketing job, he said. 

Tracer founders Leighton Welch and Jeff Nicholson

Both Nicholson and Welch have dealt with wasting time on managing multiple platforms in their previous marketing roles.

“I’ve spent billions of dollars of other people’s money, and a majority of people in the world still use Microsoft Excel to solve their data problems,” Nicholson said. “What we did is solve the problem that [platforms] don’t speak to each other, and they never will, but every advertiser in the world needs to understand them.”

Tracer integrates with Google (DoubleClick, YouTube and AdWords), Facebook Marketing and Amazon Marketing Services as well as Twitter, Snapchat, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Moat. It also can link to visualization tools Chartio, Looker and Tableau. What Tracer doesn’t do is automate buying. Buyers still need to use the marketplaces within individual platforms or other third-party tools.

Screenshot of Tracer

Mondelēz International, one of VaynerMedia’s clients, has been using Tracer to track its digital campaigns in North America for all of its brands. Jennifer Mennes, the snack company’s director of North America media, said her team has benefited from being able to examine cross-channel in real time.

The real-time reports generated allow the teams to drill deeper into their data to make quicker investment allocation and optimization decisions in partnership with VaynerMedia,” Mennes said.

VaynerX wouldn’t provide the pricing of Tracer, saying it will be tailored to the client and available in a annual retainer and percentage model.

Tracer plans to stay invite-only for the next six to 12 months and choose three to five clients. As to whom those clients will be, Vaynerchuk said he could see any of the Fortune 5000 joining the platform. Tracer was also spun out of VaynerX so that they could sell to other agencies without a conflict of interest.

“Definitely for the Fortune 5000 media spenders who spend real money on digital and are trying to understand the difference between Facebook, Snapchat, Google, Amazon,” Vaynerchuk said. “We’re not against working with certain agencies. Individuals, it might be too expensive, but the Kardashians, some of the YouTube stars, the Beyoncés of the world — it’s not inconceivable.”

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