A Week in My Life: Si Crowhurst, Vice President of Vungle Creative Labs
Vungle is a leading performance marketing platform for in-app advertising, partnering with mobile app developers and advertisers to power ads on more than one billion unique devices, with clients ranging from indie studios to powerhouse brands such as Rovio, Pandora, and Microsoft.
Si Crowhurst, VP, Vungle Creative Labs, heads up a unique multi-disciplinary team of creatives, technologists, and data analysts, which focuses on helping Vungle’s clients create and adapt their ads at rapid speed – optimising ad performance –, while maintaining user experience.
! - This piece was written before the UK entered lockdown to contain the spread of coronavirus.
Si takes us through a week in his working life….
My week starts at 6.30am, with a run, followed by catching up on email over a much-loved cup of coffee. Being part of a global advertising company means I begin my working day by getting up to speed on everything that’s happened after hours. Facing an overflowing inbox, I strive to filter out what I don’t need to do, allowing me to focus on signal over noise.
When my work day involves commuting, I like to listen to podcasts, like Glug’s ‘Creative Heroes’ podcast. I recently heard how Robin from Marshmallow Laser Feast, a UK creative collective, combines virtual and physical reality to create mixed reality, a new creative medium. I like that podcasts teach me something new - whether that’s creative inspiration, mindfulness, or leadership -, and podcasts are a great life hack in that regard.
On Monday we have a Creative Labs Leadership meeting, where we talk through strategy items like potential creative tech that could help us improve our service, as well as deep dives on client performance, making plans for improvement areas over the coming week. We also hold a Quarterly Business Review with one of our biggest advertisers, discussing the best publisher matches to the advertiser’s target audience, while also preparing for the launch of a new banner campaign. I’m a big proponent of making sure we’re asking the right questions, and taking the right approach with data supporting us to best effect.
In the afternoon, Vungle Creative Labs’ senior group gets together to discuss a list of rapid innovation candidates that have been submitted by the team. Managing the conflicting priorities we all face, i.e. how to balance providing creative services to customers today versus ensuring time to innovate for continued future success, is a balance we continually strive to find. The conversation is flowing and we decide on three ideas that could be worthy of further exploration, including new ad creative that uses Google app store branding, technology that can help us optimise the file size of our creatives, and automation to speed up getting a creative live on the Vungle network.
Multiple coffees are needed to get me started this morning after a late(ish) night (I’m 44…..).
My focus is on team growth and development this morning. We have a new framework to determine the developmental needs of team members, with a view to producing an individually-tailored growth plan. As we move into a new chapter post-Blackstone acquisition, we’re focusing on 2020 development.
In the afternoon I switch my attention to monitoring the progress of our recently-launched team “pods,” which are grouped by subject-matter expertise. This new structure better empowers people, providing greater levels of transparency and information sharing. We get a good read on team priorities, while creating the mechanism to crowdsource select pieces of work that can be used by our Marketing team to showcase our recently launched ‘Creative Labs’ brand refresh.
Wednesday evenings, I usually set aside time to take part in industry events, like Glug’s creative networking event, where we discuss topics like ways that brands are using AI engagingly, such as ‘Spotify Wrapped,’ which gives listeners a report on their listening history from the last year. These events often act as informal coaching sessions with peers and it’s important that we stay on top of trends in the industry.
I’ve blocked out my whole day to work on a large data capture and analysis exercise; pulling a year's worth of creative performance trends from the Vungle network for 2019. In partnership with our global marketing team, we are looking to provide our customers and prospects with insights on the power of creativity and data science in supporting key business goals.
I decide that I need an afternoon coffee to keep me going. I’m house-hunting after work, and I need to make sure I get through everything I need to and still leave on time.
My morning is spent hosting a virtual offsite with members of my team. We discuss an emerging trend, neuroscience, and the role it could play in helping us understand more about how people feel about, and interact with, the creatives we make. We like to be forward-thinking and it’s a fascinating area that really inspires us, but also challenges us to think about creativity and science in parallel. We observe our Data Scientist spinning his wheels at the concept!
The major focus of the afternoon is direct report 1:1’s, via Google meet. Now that we’re all working remotely, these meetings are more important than ever, and offer the chance to go deep on specific topics, discuss progress against quarterly goals and check in to see if people are happy. I count myself very fortunate to have a highly skilled team and see my role as lending an ear, offering guidance, and helping to move any frustrations out of the way.
As the week comes to an end, I have Zoom ‘after-work drinks’ with my team, to celebrate the successes we’ve had and catch up on our lives outside of work. At first, people were sceptical, but we’ve found it’s a great way to be together apart.
By the time my day is done, it’s fair to say I am running on fumes and ready to eat dinner and catch up with my partner, Sarah.