- Nike has acquired Seattle-based startup TraceMe, TechCrunch confirmed. TraceMe provides a platform called Tally that lets sports teams, broadcasters and venues engage with fans around events.
- Fans can use Tally to predict what will happen during live sporting events. Data feeds from the platform can be shown during a TV broadcast, the action can be shared via social channels and brand partners can offer prizes to users. But a source told TechCrunch that Nike was more interested in TraceMe's tech and talent rather than the Tally brand, in particular.
- Founded by Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, TraceMe was valued at $60 million in 2017. Although Nike has confirmed the purchase, terms of the deal have not been made public.
Nike has many of the pieces needed to create its own digital media platform, with a long history of utilizing technology and content to extend its brand. The TraceMe acquisition signals that a stronger digital media presence is indeed something the company has its eyes set on, and fits in with a trend of marketers trying to extend their advertising and content expertise into more ambitious media ventures.
A Nike spokesperson told TechCrunch the deal is intended to "supplement the company's content strategy on Nike-owned platforms." Tally provides a prediction-based social experience that offers streams of data that Nike could potentially use to inform its advertising and product strategy, or develop a bigger experiential playbook tied to sporting events.
It could also be monetizable as a channel that could be used to sell ads. Tally's website promises a "new canvas for advertisers and sponsors [that] enables maximal revenue." However, TechCrunch's sources indicate TraceMe's other tech and team were the bigger draw for Nike.
Still, there's a growing demand among marketers for alternative digital media channels that are less riddled with ad fraud, data privacy and brand safety issues. That's partly what's driven retailers like Target and Walmart to build out larger media networks and ramp up their pitches for brand dollars. Roundel, Target's recently rebranded media network, has inked partnerships with high-spending marketers like Procter & Gamble. P&G has been one of the louder proponents of only working with high quality publishers.
Nike's dominance in sports apparel and sterling marketing reputation could work in tandem with Tally on this front. The acquisition comes on the heels of Nike's purchase in August of predictive analytics firm Celect, whose platform lets retailers optimize their inventories of specific styles, based on hyper-local demand predictions.