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Redbrain: Optimising Efficiencies and Data Processing with FinOps and AI

Google Cloud

About the customer

Redbrain is Europe’s number one online shopping performance partner. Processing  40 billion products every month, Redbrain helps retailers get their product listing ads seen by the right customers at the right time, with retailers only paying when there is a confirmed sale. Working with retailers large and small, Redbrain’s client list includes ebay, Disney, Nike, JD Sports, Nintendo, and Lego.

As inflation and economic uncertainty place downward pressure on advertising budgets, retailers are increasingly having to find ways to deliver greater returns on their existing ad spends. One way to do more with less is to ensure that ads reach the right customer at the right time. However, this is not the easiest thing to do.

That’s where Redbrain comes in. With the largest ecommerce product database in Europe, Redbrain optimises retailers’ product data to ensure that their product-listing ads not only appear at the top of Google Shopping and Bing Shopping carousels. They are shown to the right customers when they are actively looking to make a purchase. As a result, Redbrain drives more relevant traffic to retailers’ sites, while ensuring marketers aren’t paying to serve ads where they’re not needed. And because Redbrain only charges retailers for confirmed sales, it is a risk-free addition to retailers’ sales strategy.

“Our offering has never been as important as it is today,” says Will Viles, Creative Growth Marketer, Redbrain. “In an economy that’s squeezing everyone, we offer a very competitive cost-per-sale. With no risk attached, meaning we can increase sales for retailers without pushing their costs up.”

The Challenge

Redbrain needed a clearer understanding of how its Google Cloud expenditure was tied to its business objectives. Devoteam worked closely with Redbrain to understand the intricacies of its business, helping it to take important steps on the FinOps journey. While developing AI solutions to sharpen and expand its data optimisation processes.

Finding the right partner to get the most from Google Cloud

Redbrain runs on Google Cloud, where it ingests and optimises 40 billion products a month. Because Google Cloud is a vast platform with an ever-expanding product suite, Redbrain has always worked with a digital partner to ensure it is getting the most from the platform. However, prior to working with Devoteam, Redbrain found that its previous partner wasn’t geared up to work in the way they needed. They couldn’t sufficiently engage with Redbrain’s business strategy to be able to tie the company’s Google Cloud usage to its business objectives. 

At the same time, Redbrain was also looking to expand its use of AI and ML to automate more of its data optimisation processes. It was important to find a partner with those capabilities. 

“We needed somebody who would work more in partnership with us and take the lead in helping us optimise Google Cloud, giving us insight into what’s driving our overall spend, as well as improving our understanding of the opportunities there.”

Building the foundations of a strong working relationship

When Redbrain began working with Devoteam in July 2022, Bannister was impressed with the level of attention his team received, and how much energy was put into supporting them at the outset of their journey. 

“I was very clear that the whole partnership was going to stand or fall on the way the relationship began,” says Bannister. “And they really did pay attention. Our account manager was very engaged, as was the head of country. They clearly put a lot of effort and focus into making sure that it was a smooth transition.”

Through the first few months of regular consultations with Redbrain, Devoteam engaged with the business, analysing its objectives and how they correlated with its use of Google Cloud. The consultations resulted in a few early wins for Redbrain that not only led to cost efficiencies through FinOps, but crucially, confirmed to Bannister that this was the right partnership. Key among these was Devoteam’s analysis of Redbrain’s Google Cloud usage, which helped them to decide whether to sign up for a three-year committed use discount.

 “The previous partner was pushing really hard for us to sign up to a three-year commitment, but all they could tell me was, ‘based on your historic usage, this is what we think you’ll use,’” explains Bannister. “Whereas Devoteam spent a lot of time understanding the technical changes we were making, and modelling the likely impact on our cloud usage, and came back with a very credible model for our likely future spend. So I was entirely comfortable signing up on that basis. That just illustrates the difference between the approach of the two organisations.”

The First Steps on the FinOps Journey

Redbrain is now making use of Devoteam’s expertise in cloud management to gain a clearer understanding of how its Google Cloud expenditure correlates to its data storage.

“Because of the complexity of our business, we are not there yet, but we have started the FinOps journey towards getting more clarity on how our Google Cloud costs break down,” Bannister explains. “And because Devoteam wants to talk about what’s going on in the business, it’s easier to go on that journey together.”

One area where the FinOps discussions have already borne fruit is in Redbrain’s use of Google Cloud database BigTable. Discussions between Mark Howson, Head of Platform and SRE at Redbrain and Devoteam have resulted in changes to the way Redbrain uses the database, saving the business money. 

“BigTable is a very expensive database. We had a long, very technical talk with Devoteam where we went into questions like what does the database look like and how can we adjust it. I would not generally expect to have someone looking at your data with you and supporting you to that degree. And we were able to make some good savings using their advice.”

Automating data optimisation processes with AI and ML

While FinOps consultations continue, Redbrain has also begun to partner with Devoteam to automate more of its data optimization for Google Shopping. Devoteam is currently running a solution to demonstrate that AI can be effectively used to improve the quality of product data, with the goal of getting more products approved in Google Shopping and driving more revenue as a result.
“With data from 40 billion products, everything we can do to enhance the data quality is beneficial to us in terms of improving revenue and profitability,” said Bannister, Head of Engineering at Redbrain. “That’s where automation comes into play. We’re already talking to Devoteam about how else we can use AI to optimize our product data for even better performance in the Google Shopping world.”

Improved ROI for retailers and Redbrain alike

As Devoteam continues to support Redbrain in aligning its business objectives with its Google Cloud spend, Bannister is confident that it will begin to drive efficiencies in expenditure. That in turn will enable Redbrain to continue working with Devoteam on AI and ML solutions to optimise product data and ultimately drive increased sales for retailers, ensuring they get the improved ROI that is so critical in the current climate. 

For Bannister, this is all made possible by the nature of the partnership that Devoteam and Redbrain have developed.  “Devoteam understands us as a business,” says Bannister. “They understand the back-end infrastructure. And they work very much as a partner to help us get the best not just out of the tech that we are using, but out of the solutions that we’ve built and the data that we’ve got. We’re confident they’ve got the capabilities to deliver the improvements we need.”