We have some fantastic partners who utilize our platform, so it’s only natural we want to share the feedback we receive from them! I had the pleasure of speaking with our customer, Terry Hogan, Advertising Operations Manager at Skyscanner.
Skyscanner is an award-winning global travel search site based in Scotland. Their site is used by 60 million people each month and has offices worldwide. In 2016, Skyscanner was bought by Ctrip, the largest travel company in China, for $1.75 billion. Terry shared with me what made him choose Placements.io and why he remains happy with his decision.
KAYLA: What was it like before you had our platform?
TERRY: We were completely disorganized. We had four or five different teams using four or five different systems that didn’t speak to each other and, as you would expect, that caused a lot of issues. Our sales team would import something into Salesforce.com and because is wasn’t connected with the ad server or our finance system, issues would arise down the line that we would have no idea were happening until afterwards. To be honest, it was a bit of a mess and that’s one of the reasons why we looked into an order management system.
KAYLA: How did you discover Placements.io — what problem were you looking to solve?
TERRY: Because we knew our internal process was broken, we ran a Theory of Constraints exercise to try to find where these bottlenecks were. One of the bottlenecks we identified was that we needed a platform to connect all of our systems. So I went about researching different options. Someone else in the industry mentioned they came across Placements.io as being an order and revenue management solution that could potentially serve our use case. This prompted me to reach out.
KAYLA: What made our product stand out from other options?
TERRY: I actually spoke with Placements.io last when I was vetting solutions. The main thing, almost instantly, that really stood out was the UI and speed of the platform. Also Edwin’s [Placements.io CEO] focus on having more of a publisher-first mentality. We believed in him and his team and believed in the product. In fairness, at the time it didn’t serve all of our requirements; it was probably lowest on the end of features. However, we believed that if we could make a good longterm partnership and if we invested the time together, we could eventually get to where we needed to be. That’s exactly what happened and I’m pretty happy with it in the end.
KAYLA: What have been the greatest benefits you’ve received from working with us?
TERRY: When you work with a lot of these bigger partners, they won’t add certain features to their roadmap if they don’t deem them valuable for all of their publishers. Obviously, Placements.io is not going to build endless custom features for one partner, but they listen to a lot of our feedback and they’ve very much delivered on all of their promises. When we have a custom feature request, they listen to it and if we mutually agree that it’s going to be something they work on, they deliver exceptionally quickly. That’s one of the greatest benefits and biggest shout-outs to their engineering team. They release a lot of these new features very quickly when we don’t give them a great deal of information. They’re quite creative, they figure it out themselves, and they present back to us what they think we need. Generally, it’s correct and that’s been pretty impressive.
KAYLA: What have you been able to achieve since using our platform?
TERRY: The first thing we wanted to do is connect our finance system, third-party reporting system, ad server, and CRM system. We were able to do that pretty much out of the gate with Placements.io, so that was great. A few custom things that they started on right away took a bit of work and we were very impressed when they were implemented. For example, we already had an in-house feature for uploading targeting really quickly, which no other order management system had done. The Placements.io team developed their own version of this and quickly released it to the platform. That was a great collaborative piece between Skyscanner and Placements.io. Another example was the multi-currency feature Placements.io released and pushed into the platform, which I think is amazing for all of their partners that also use it. Overall, my expectation was to connect all our systems, but then also make the platform a bit more customizable for all of our requirements. All of those requirements have been met and I’m very pleased.
KAYLA: What is it like to work with Placements.io from a customer service standpoint?
TERRY: I think one of the biggest concerns we originally had was the majority of our team is based in Europe, while Placements.io is based in the US. We were worried about the time difference. But, to be honest, when we raise any kind of support tickets or requests, they’re picked up in the afternoon our time and resolved quickly. I think in terms of support, I would say it’s excellent considering that Placements.io is a growing startup.
KAYLA: What is an example of how Placements.io went “the extra mile” to serve you?
TERRY: As I mentioned previously, one of the main reasons we signed up with Placements.io is because we really did believe in Edwin and his team as a company that could deliver on their promises, which we didn’t feel with the other companies we vetted. He went above and beyond to collaborate with us on feature roadmaps at no extra cost, which is just not something that you’re going to get with any other partner. He really saw our working relationship as a partnership and thought long term, which was greatly appreciated. As a result, we’re committed to continuing to invest in our partnership with Placements.io.
KAYLA: If someone called you and said “Why should I do business with Placements.io?”, what would you tell them?
TERRY: I would tell them if they want a platform that has a great UI, is exceptionally fast and efficient, and if they want to work with a team that’s continuously developing, then Placements.io is the way to go. They think like we think — where every day is day one, so they’re constantly evolving and thinking of new ways to develop the platform. That’s exactly how we develop a product at Skyscanner. I think if a publisher was looking at the systems that maybe did have more features, I would encourage them to think longer-term about partnering with a publisher-first company like Placements.io, rather than just being a customer.
KAYLA: What has the post-sales/implementation relationship been like?
TERRY: To be honest, in the beginning I think we failed a lot from the Skyscanner side. One of the challenges about implementing the platform is you have to work with other systems like Salesforce.com. Since Salesforce is so highly customizable, you pretty much need the client to be up-to-speed with how they use Salesforce and what they want to get out of it. We didn’t really use Salesforce very well or understand it, so when the Placements.io team asked us, “how do you want us to set this up?”, we didn’t really know. I think that caused a lot of confusion and delays, which was on our side. However, I think if you plan it out correctly, you really can plug and play with the Placements.io platform. I know for a fact that other programs take a minimum of three to six months because they have quite dated architecture. This was not the case with Placements.io.
KAYLA: Can you name some specific process improvements you’ve experienced since using the platform?
TERRY: Our process has been improved in a few ways. First, we’ve seen a major increase in Tribe efficiencies across Sales, Operations, Product, and Finance. With all systems linked and a “black and white process” implemented through Placements.io, we’ve seen a marked decrease in manual error, resulting in major efficiency wins. Second, we’ve been able to scale without adding resource — having a full end-to-end flow, our teams are able to manage higher volumes without added resource or strain. From an Operations point of view, we’ve saved around 30% — 40% of time on manual tasks, such as 3rd party reconciliation, repeat processing like recreation or campaigns, and assigning creatives. With Placements.io, those reoccurring tasks are already done for us. Lastly, we’ve been able to save 10% of time from our global sales team, by using the automated s3 connection to automate the sales forecasting and reporting process.
KAYLA: How has Placements.io aligned with the values that drive your business?
TERRY: Skyscanner’s mantra is user first, partner second, Skyscanner third. We’ll happily erase a line of revenue if we have an advertising product that’s causing a detrimental user experience. If you look at the industry, it’s generally always the publisher that is a second thought — they’re always expected to make it work and make it work yesterday. Just like our users are first priority, we appreciate how Placements.io is committed to supporting publishers in a way that other platforms don’t.
Special thanks to Terry for his contribution and kind words. Be sure to check out skyscanner.com to plan your next trip!
Interested in learning more about how Placements.io can improve your business? Reach out to [email protected].