Inside Look: RV’s Award-Winning Data Science Team

4 months ago

by Kevin Pedde

UPDATE! On Thursday Nov. 10th Red Ventures officially won the NC Tech Award for Best Use of Technology – Analytics! 

NCTechAwards-RedVentures

This photograph deserves an award of its own. 

Hats off to this team, especially considering this technology was years in the making and the NC Tech Awards is the state’s largest and most prestigious technology awards program. Here’s more from Kevin Pedde, an RV Data Scientist who played a key role in launching and developing the winning technology at RV:

First things first. If you don’t know what Red Ventures does: We help the world’s biggest brands make the digital leap required to compete – enabling scale, unlocking opportunity, and defending against disruption.  At Red Ventures, we’re always developing new, innovative technologies to help us continue to solve problems and scale faster than the competition.

And a second thing. If you don’t know what I do: As a data scientist, my role is to use mathematics and programming to help RV make better business decisions and to automate tasks that will help us scale faster.

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RV Data Scientists: Brilliant predictive models. Aspiring male models.

Red Ventures uses a number of marketing channels to communicate with our partners’ customers, and paid search is definitely one of our top channels.  As our company grows and continues to build partnerships, it’s important that we continue to develop, launch and maintain paid search campaigns – and that those campaigns continue to perform at an insanely high level. It’s not always feasible to assign live analysts to manage multiple, massive accounts, so we often look to emerging technologies to help.

The challenge, in a nutshell, is this: How do we continue to scale our business at an outrageous pace without having to scale manpower at the same (impossible) pace?  And the answer, in a nutshell, is this: Assign different work to humans and computers based on their unique talents.

At RV, we’ve developed a technology capable of automatically optimizing paid search bids in real-time, allowing our live analysts to focus on strategy and scale.

The Winning Tech

To understand what our product does, you have to first understand the kind of work that goes into paid search. Since most people aren’t paid search geeks who would be excited about a step by step explanation of the process (sorry Jill), here’s a really, really boiled down explanation:

Paid search analysts spend a lot of time retrieving data about what people are searching for online, who’s searching, etc. They then analyze that data, consider the best keywords to reach their desired audiences and calculate how much they need to bid in order to convert customers at a smart price. Finally, analysts must interface with different paid search bidding platforms in order to actually place their bids.

And let’s not forget that paid search bidding isn’t a “set it and forget it” job.  Analysts are constantly updating bids day to day, and sometimes hour to hour.  Imagine going through this process for every single keyword, for every single one of Red Ventures’ partners. Your brain would literally catch fire.*

Our technology eliminates the need to manually bid on paid search keywords. It retrieves data for each keyword and uses predictive models to generate a bid that will maximize profitability for that keyword.

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Kevin Pedde: Data Scientist, Party Poker fan, noted author (of this article).

Big tasks such as data centralization, model building and the setting of each bid in their respective paid search bidding platforms are all automated such that our live analysts need to do very little in order to ensure success of those processes. We also enabled this technology to capitalize on the capabilities of each search platform in order to further optimize performance of unique campaigns.

Could we have tried a third party solution? Maybe, but because of the complexity of the Red Ventures business model, our unique data environment and our always-changing operations, we most often have to rely on our own capabilities to build custom technology solutions in-house. Plus, we had a lot of fun working closely with the many talented paid search and engineering experts on the Red Ventures team. It’s incredibly rewarding to have the chance to create a one-of-a-kind technology solution that spans so many different disciplines and has become a core asset to RV’s success for the foreseeable future.

We’re honored, to say the least, to have been nominated for this prestigious award.  As a company, we pride ourselves in showcasing the groundbreaking technology we’re developing within these walls, and we love discovering the impressive products and solutions being developed all over North Carolina.

Kevin Pedde has worked in data science for more than 5 years and has been in his current role at Red Ventures since the spring of 2014.  Outside of work you can find Kevin chasing trophy bass, the perfect wave, fresh powder and epic scenery.

 

*This hypothesis not based on any real data or science.

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