When Daniel Gilbert decided to set up his agency, Brainlabs, his ambition was to change the future of advertising. Despite what some people may consider a rather bold dream to have, it is clear he’s not fazed by the challenge and remains as committed to it as he was on day one. His formula for implementing such a change lies in the combination of science and advertising. This has resulted in clients referring to his team as being “remarkable people, with a laser focus and fresh perspective”.
As part of the 5th iteration of our “In Conversation with” blog series, we sat down with Daniel to discuss agency life, personalised marketing, and the value of a conversation.
Before we begin, let’s give our readers a short overview, who are you and what do you do?
I’m the CEO of Brainlabs, a digital marketing agency I founded 7 years ago. We do paid search, programmatic, paid social, and provide technology and consultancy for in-house teams. I lead the vision and strategic direction of the agency, focusing on growth and overseeing new business and marketing.
And, what’s the best bit about your job?
It's all about setting really high targets for myself and the business, and then completely smashing them. One of the first goals I set for Brainlabs was to change the future of the digital marketing industry and double in size year on year. I'm pretty happy with how we've been doing!
And, the not so good bit?
Since the early days, we wanted to sustain an open and equal workplace culture, and this has been another one of Brainlabs’ missions – to become the best place in the world to work. As we’ve grown so incredibly quickly, we’ve realised you’re never really done tackling unconscious bias.
In an interview with Econsultancy, you mentioned you had a random ramble? Tell us more about that?
As we’ve expanded to over 200 people, ‘Random Ramble’s are something we started to keep our tight-knit culture. It's pretty simple, our dev team created a tool that pairs any two random employees from across the entire agency and assigns them time to 'ramble' together. Whether that be going for a coffee or taking a walk.
The idea behind it is to encourage friendships between people whose paths might not naturally cross, and of course, encourage everyone to take the occasional break.
At DMX Dublin you mentioned that brands will decide on how personal their marketing can get, but how personal do you think brands should be with their marketing?
It depends on the brand and what they deliver, as this largely dictates what level of personalisation is appropriate. I’m definitely pro-personalisation and relevance as it ultimately creates a better user experience – it’s how marketers can grab the attention of people who are actually interested in a brand, rather than target absolutely everyone regardless of their intent. That being said, personalisation needs to make sense. Don't creep people out – user trust is easy to lose.
Earlier this year we spoke to Karl Boyce, head of digital and CRM at Dominoes, who said that “Wherever there is a bidding channel, such as PPC, we’ve approached it with an AI mindset. By investing in PPC, we’ve increased sales by 30%.”
What do you think of that?
PPC is great for driving sales and the search machine learning tech is incredibly advanced. A performance increase like this is exactly what I’d expect to follow investment in this channel. In times of economic uncertainty (think Brexit), focusing on channels that are known sales-drivers is a must. You need to constantly adapt to and adopt the tech that enables you to deliver the best results.
In a digital-centric world, what do you think about the value of phone conversations?
Mobile search has long surpassed desktop, so there's still an obvious place for call extensions in search ads. There's a large number of people that prefer to do things over a call rather than on a screen, and those audiences shouldn't be neglected.
Some industries strongly rely on phone calls to drive sales and focus on those as their conversions rather than clicks, for example. It’s all about how businesses integrate this into their digital marketing strategy and set up proper conversion tracking – the two shouldn't be disconnected.
Finally, we really want to know. When setting up your agency, what was the most important conversation you had, and why?
The most important conversation we've had, and are still having, is about balancing our ambition for company growth with maintaining an open culture and equal workplace.
How can we double in size annually while being as diverse, inclusive, and transparent as possible? In the early days, we audited our pay equality and found areas we needed to work on. Now, we try to set clear, measurable goals for ourselves to make sure we are defining industry standards and keep working to make Brainlabs a more accessible company with growth potential for everyone.
Our time with Daniel was eye-opening. To see what the future of advertising and agency life is, it reinforced that fact that the future’s bright, but also very personal.
If you’d like to see how Infinity works with agencies to deliver 100% accountability for their client, improve their marketing optimisation, and so much more, drop us a message by clicking this link or using the live chatbox on the right.