Over the course of the NFL's regular season this year, the data team at Varick Media Management was hard at work trying to find out what happens when you apply ad-buying technology to picking football games.
Thats right. Football games.
It turns out, you get a high percentage of them right.
The company's algorithms--built to send the right ad to the right person--also happened to pick the right team in 69% of games during the regular season. And they're improving: getting only five wrong over its past two weeks. Now, the Varick algorithim is ready to make its Super Bowl pick, and it's bad news for Seahawks fans.
"We're going to pick Denver," said Albert Klyachko, Varick's director of analytics.
Mr. Klyachko and two others at Varick worked on the project, developing the algorithims for a pick 'em competition that 83 teams, all run by ad professionals, participated in.
Of the 83, Varick came in first place. Credit some well applied ad-tech geekiness
Varick inputted a number of football variables into their home grown data management platform and then weighed each to calculate its picks. They included passing offense, running offense, passing defense, running defense, special teams, historical head to head and home field advantage. A team's run/pass ratio was also included.
"When we ran this, I was skeptical because a lot of people try to bet on football games and a lot of times it comes out randomly," said Mr. Klyachko. But the algorithm kept getting better as the season went on.
Eva Johnson, a marketing manager at Varick, said the company is spending its time picking NFL games because it makes what they do more "digestible."
"Weighing a bunch of factors with client data and that sort of thing might not really strike a chord as well as something like football," she said. "We just thought it would show a little bit about what we do but make it easier on the ears and eyes."
So Denver can rest easy knowing it's been chosen by ad-tech's finest, who meanwhile will go back to work picking ad slots on Monday. Which is, of course, is what they really do.