As Björn Karlström, Product Manager at Bannerflow, points out in this interview, display advertising hasn’t always been know for its creativity. Yet why shouldn’t creative efforts match targeting know-how?
Who better to hear from about how adtech can help than a product manager at a creative management platform. Here’s Karlström to tell us more about his day-to-day life…
Hi Björn. Please describe your job: What do you do?
Björn Karlström: I am a Product Manager at Bannerflow, a creative management platform, or CMP, which empowers marketing teams to design, scale, publish, analyse, optimise, and personalise display campaigns in-house.
My role in the company is to evaluate and action new improvements or features for the platform. These often come from clients, our product team, or our tech team. My priority is to make sure any new feature boosts both performance and user experience in the long-term.
Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
Björn Karlström: I report to one of our co-founders, Daniel Fahlén who is the Chief Product Officer for Bannerflow.
As with all ambitious, growing ad tech companies, we are product-centric in our approach to innovation. And the Product Team work closely with the Tech Team to implement new changes to the platform and action customer feedback.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
Björn Karlström: Usually, people in my job will have either a commercial or developer background. Success in my role means a core ability to prioritise tasks and communicate updates to many different stakeholders.
Often, my days are full so I have to focus on how I structure my time and prioritise. By proxy, I need to be a natural communicator, with a commercial mindset. Therefore, I spend as much time as I can staying on top of the latest tech innovations and trends which may impact our business. You will often find me reading or listening to tutorials when I’m not in meetings!
Tell us about a typical working day…
Björn Karlström: I always start the day catching up on my emails (who doesn’t?). Then my team has a daily stand-up to catch up on ongoing projects and tasks. Then more emails! After which, it’s onto syncing the latest UX design with the developers. Finally, I use JIRA to create and test completed tickets from our developers for that day.
Throughout the week, I also sync with our support team who raise issues or suggestions from customers for platform improvements.
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
Björn Karlström: I’ve never been in an environment that works at such a fast and exhilarating pace! Every day is unique. I’m always being challenged or learning new things. After all, we’re at the forefront of the industry, so every new project for us is an unknown at the start.
At heart, I’m a problem solver, and paving the way in such a fast-paced industry is one of the most satisfying parts of my job.
What sucks? Well, it’s always a struggle when there is never enough time or resources to implement all the ideas we come up with! In an ideal world, we would have ten times the number of developers and testers (but the problem would probably remain!)…
What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
Björn Karlström: Widespread user adoption is our main goal. If one of our new developments works, our customers will use it – it’s one of the only measures of success that matters. This means that our KPIs can include anything from increased campaign production, the number of decision trees created, or the number of direct integrations across the platform.
If we create a new feature, we monitor closely to see how many customers use it and collect feedback via Customer Success to make sure we have good engagement with our customers.
What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
Björn Karlström: Most of my time is spent in JIRA or Trello to keep track of all the ongoing projects and tickets. We use Mix panel to measure how customers are using the platform: how many banners were created, what features were used, how often etc.
Like any modern company, we all live on Slack sharing Memes, GIFs, and occasionally some useful info too!
How did you end up at Bannerflow, and where might you go from here?
Björn Karlström: I have a long history working within ad-tech but I started on the agency side, working 6 years within both creative and media buying. Then I moved over to work on the client side in-house as a CMO and CPO for an e-commerce brand before ending up on the vendor side of things.
After using ad-tech tools for more than 10 years it’s amazing working for a company developing their own creative management platform (CMP).
Which campaigns/activity have impressed you lately?
Björn Karlström: I love everything about the transition to digital-out-of-home (DOOH) – making outdoor advertising dynamic and more easy on the eyes! In the past few years, DOOH has made a huge leap into the public sphere. Guinness did a great campaign last year using location data and the Rugby World Cup to direct viewers to the nearest pub. These sort of campaigns get you really excited about the potential of this format.
However, the most exciting development is just how easy it is to use DOOH. Now, it’s possible to create an ad in one place and publish across social, display, and out-of-home at once – it’s incredible!
Do you have any advice for marketers looking to rationalise their display spend?
Björn Karlström: Make sure your creative is as relevant as your media buying. Programmatic buying has been razor sharp when it comes to targeting for some time, but the programmatic creative hasn’t got the same love. This means that your media dollars are not working as hard as they could. Make sure you have a tailored message for each target group in your campaigns, regardless of whether it is divided by device, location, time or data.
And your should have a serious word with your team if you are not A/B-testing your creatives in each display campaign. This might be the lowest hanging fruit out there for digital marketers. With the right tools (a CMP) you can easily increase the performance of your campaigns by more than 100%, and who doesn’t want that?
A more controversial approach is to make your media buying less programmatic, less smart, but a lot cheaper. Instead keep the smartness in your adserver making each impression relevant. This approach will remove a lot of middlemen and a bigger part of your digital budget will end up at the publisher, leading ultimately to better efficiency.