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Pay-per-click (PPC) and Programmatic advertising campaigns have become a mainstay of digital marketing, with online advertisers paying a fee each time their ad is clicked or shown on a search engine results page or website. While there are many elements that go into building a successful campaign, one of the most valuable is an underlying process that uses data and statistics to scientifically optimise and automate the process.

When Daniel Gilbert launched London-based Brainlabs in early 2012, his aim was to help advertisers extract the maximum amount of value from their campaigns through a tried and tested set of analytical systems called the Brainbox Methodology. Daniel had previously worked at Google on projects relating to Quality Score, the rating of the quality and relevance of keywords and PPC ads.

“I saw that advertisers weren’t truly harnessing the power of data and automation,” he explains. “You could see heads nodding but not a lot of action. I realised that despite being in a mathematical-type discipline, the skill sets actually required were not in the field. We needed people with mathematical and scientific expertise.”

Daniel set to recruit some of the brightest people in these fields that he could find through his own network and the events he attended to raise the profile of the business. He did not want the constraints of external funding, so he bootstrapped the business himself, scraping by as best he could and reinvesting every pound.

Brainlab’s breakthrough came in 2014 when it was invited to pitch for Which? Magazine, against 14 other agencies.

“It was our pivotal moment,” says Daniel. “We didn’t know what an RFP was back then so we just presented the work we were doing for other clients and were utterly amazed to come out on top and be appointed. It gave us tremendous confidence in the way we were working with data and automation.”

Since then, the Brainlabs management team has seen its roles change massively as it looks to maintain its growth along with its high quality servicing of clients. The most demanding tasks of all, says Daniel, have been the recruitment of almost 100 new people and building a strong company culture.

“I’ve become obsessed about our culture and probably spend 40% of my time working on it,” he explains. “We’ve instilled shared values and a philosophy of putting clients first. This applies to any decision we take. Our clients come first, then the business, then the team, then the individual.”

Brainlabs runs unique teambuilding and collaboration exercises on top of its standard employee training and development tools and share options scheme. For example, ‘Internal Learning’ sessions are held daily after a free lunch during which a Brainlabber presents a subject of personal interest to the rest of the team.

“We want people who are willing to join us on a journey in which they are constantly enriching and broadening their perspectives,” says Daniel. “We don’t know what we will look like in six months’ time and will be a completely different business by then. This industry is constantly changing, so we have to as well.”

Looking ahead, Daniel is confident about growth opportunities in the UK market, and excited about expansion in the United States, where they recently opened an office in New York City. Longer term, Brainlabs also aspires to open offices in France and Germany once there is clarity over Brexit.

“Expanding abroad is definitely on the cards, but the fact is we’ve barely dented the UK market,” he says. “The UK has one of the richest technology ecosystems in the world, with amazing conditions in terms of skills and technical capabilities, funding, advisors and ease of doing business.”