The easiest online tool to make videos.  Work in teams or work solo.  Make a video for every moment, every content, everything!

Optimizing for Market Success: Strategic Role of Creative Operations

Santiago Gonzalez, Keurig Dr. Pepper, ex-Wayfair talks to Rocketium on how streamlining creative operations for your digital campaigns can impact your digital workflows, customer engagement and market share. Santiago Gonzalez was head of post-production at Wayfair and worked with editors, creatives and marketing individuals while contributing to groundbreaking projects that helped cement Wayfair as a marketing leader in e-commerce. 

Karan Rao, SVP Business, Rocketium interviews this week’s guest ‘On Air with Rocketium’ – our video podcast that delves into the practitioner’s world of creative operations.

Highlights from the episode:

  • Align CreativeOps with strategic goals to bridge creative vision and market success, driving increased market share and customer engagement.
  • Prioritize agility and speed in generating diverse creative assets across platforms while maintaining brand consistency.
  • Maximize asset reuse and streamline processes to enhance efficiency in creative production workflows.
  • Emphasize metadata and governance to improve asset discoverability and usability across channels.

Karan: Hello everyone, my name is Karan Rao, and welcome to ‘On Air with Rocketium’. Today we have Santiago Gonzalez from Wayfair, a practitioner with 15 years of experience across various organizations in CreativeOps. Thank you so much for taking the time today. So do you want to tell a little bit about yourself as we get started?

Santiago: Yeah, absolutely, I am happy to chat about all things CreativeOps. I am Santiago Gonzalez. I have been here at Wayfair for a little over 4 years. Before that, I spent 10 years working in documentaries, films, TV, and the whole spectrum of marketing. And then I landed in Wayfair as they were expanding their market share. This was right before the pandemic, right before the entire world shut down which drastically changed the way we work. So, it was an interesting time to try and get up to speed about things and it helped expedite a lot of things that we were doing on the Creative operational front and forced us to rethink a lot of our processes so to speak.

Santiago on CreativeOps at Wayfair

Karan: Everyone in North America knows what Wayfair is, but for the rest of the globe, if you can just tell me about Wayfair that would be awesome.

Santiago: Absolutely, at Wayfair, we want to be the number one place in “home”. There are a lot of places that sell home decor and home furnishing but we are aiming to be the place you go because of our massive logistics and infrastructure. We are able to deliver those big items like couches and refrigerators and beds. We are not as old as some of the classic brick-and-mortar places. The idea is to bring the most up-to-date and desired collection to you online, on your phone, or on your tablet. It is supposed to personalize the shopping experience whether you are at your home, or at your apartment, doesn’t matter.

Karan: Awesome! So, we’ve been in the CreativeOps space. We have been living and breathing CreativeOps for the past 8 years now. And it is often difficult to make people understand what CreativeOps is. So do you mind sharing some tidbits on how you view this function?

Santiago: Creative operations to me is kind of like the way you get from point A to point B. Every goal starts with “we are here and we want to get there,”; we are the car that drives you. And this is true no matter what channel you are on. We are omnichannel, working across various teams, be it video, imagery, 3D. Creative operations, ideally, allow you to create a holistic workflow so you can do the most with the least amount of people.

Karan: Yes, do more with less right?

Santiago: Exactly!

Impact of CreativeOps on market share

Karan: You started this conversation on an interesting note that you joined Wayfair when they wanted to increase market share and generally you think of market share in terms of revenue-related goals, marketing-related goals. We do believe that CreativeOps has a very important role in partnering with businesses, but in your case, what was the journey like?

Santiago: Yeah, when you are thinking this from the creative operations standpoint, you are talking about go-to-market and you are focusing on how you can get the biggest share of your messaging either visually or textually to your customers. Market share can be assessed by parameters like click-through rate which are on the marketing side but on the creative side; it is more about how we keep doing what we are doing but have more assets delivered on the backend.

Karan: I tell some of our customers that communication has gotten much more complex today. Back in the day, you had one creative thing that you would put on the billboard. The same creative will go in your newspaper ad. But today what has happened is that you have so many channels, you have so many types of customers. Digital is allowing you to target your customers pretty well. So now you need that machinery to churn out all these different assets and all these variations too at great speed so that you can continuously have refreshed creatives for your customers. The nature of the challenge has been that as communication has evolved, the machinery required to keep it living and breathing has evolved as well.

Santiago: When you think about even 4 or 5 years ago, a lot of places were in a situation where they talked about broadcast, on-site, banner ads, catalog assets, social media. But these were all siloed teams and a lot of creative operations for far too long and to this day in some places exist in Excel sheets. I can’t tell how many times someone has given me an Excel sheet that links to a master asset. There may be 7 different teams that are posting, copy-pasting, and talking about deliverables, aspect ratios, dimensions. 3 years ago, you couldn’t go to the office and discuss and work on these deliverables. So we had to think about how we could do this faster with minimal communication. Communication, while good, also causes spending. So we needed a technical base to create variants across channels. There is no world now where you can create a master asset and need somebody to create a banner ad, a catalog ad, or a social media version of it. That’s just a waste of time.

Wayfair’s CreativeOps team structure overview

Karan: Absolutely right! Maybe we change gears a bit and talk about your own CreativeOps. How is your team structured and what does it look like at Wayfair?

Santiago: I am one of the senior managers with the creative operations team. I am also the head of post-production specifically for videos, for all of North America. It includes video ads, broadcasts. We work on the creative aspect of it, and we are very lucky to have a long-term, hive mindset for CreativeOps. As things have changed, we have had some key leaders stay and drive the vision from a creative operations standpoint. We are in physical retail, we are opening a store this year, we also have multiple specialty retail brands that fall under the umbrella of Wayfair which include Joss & Main, AllModern, Perigold. Each one of these has its own lane but from a creative operations standpoint, we are under the same working mindset on OKR and sharing KPIs that allow us to share our workflows across and streamline the process. Then, you add imagery, 3D, automation, and all of that comes together. I started leading specifically around tech innovation and AI infrastructure.

Workflow: From initial brief to go-live 

Karan: Interesting, so if you had to map out your workflow. For example, we have a brief, right? Based on certain strategic initiatives that marketing has, the CreativeOps team has to deliver on certain assets. If you had to map out what that process looks like from your end, what would that look like?

Santiago: What I would like to say is that while the channels are different, this could be found in various places, not just Wayfair, the process at its core is the same. You get the brief from marketing with what they want. Deliverables aren’t always exactly what you end up with. The whole point of the brief is that it gives you the conversation to kick off. You kick off that brief, you talk about what are the key points that you want for this customer-facing or B2B asset. Then creatively internally, they start ideating on it. Then, if you’re reusing, you can just go straight into the post-production process or you go to your shoot, you do your shoot or your copywriters just start ideating and giving a list of options. The creative team approves it and then it goes back to marketing and those stakeholders give their feedback. Then you deliver the asset and start collecting data analytics on it.

Resource management at Wayfair

Karan: And how does your resource management work in that sense? Is there some triaging going on, or there is some automated way of managing resourcing? What does that look like?

Santiago: There’s always triage. That’s just what, you know, shifting business needs. But, we try to channel road maps a little bit at different distances. Some channels are road mapping at a six or 12-month cadence. And then slightly adjusting as needed. Some channels are like, hey, we have a lot of quick-fire requests. So they’re road mapping more and like 2 to 4-week sprints. But the whole point, on the CreativeOps side, is we all do it within the same platform which allows us to know that like, hey, if I need X type of person, if I on the video side, need a designer, I can go to that manager from creative operations who already knows what their road map looks like and see if I can slide into a sprint. And that’s something that we’re continually trying to improve. But the whole point is , if you’re sharing resources, then nothing can ever hopefully get too far behind.

Workflow organization solutions at Wayfair

Karan: Got it. And we like going a little more technical here on this podcast. So I’m going to ask you this in terms of the process that you follow. What are some platforms that you use, tools that you use that probably organize your process better because you did mention it. You know, there are exceptions, and that sometimes causes a lot of commotion. There is a lot of back and forth as well when people are involved and they have to give feedback and some improvement areas. So at Wayfair, what does this process look like from a technical standpoint? And what are some good tools and solutions you’ve come across?

Santiago: So we’re really an ecosystem of about like 4 to 5 different platforms throughout the process. So when you talk about brief ingestion and our logging and road mapping, we’re pretty much living inside of Atlassian, Jira World. So that’s where that starts. Then you get into the ideating and the rough concept, those are done mostly on Miro or Figma, those kinds of open canvas concept places. And then, when you go into the final storage and the asset management side, we are moving towards a third-party vendor. Our creative team is already on Orange Logic as our digital asset management third-party partner. Wayfair has historically created its own internally. And, it was great and it served the purposes that it was designed for. It’s been the back end of our website for, you know, since we launched. 

But when you think about AI and automation and expanding the digital asset management system into more than just a library, we had to go to a third party. That way we could really throw gasoline on the fire instead of continually trying to build a plane as we fly. And then from that, we plug into a lot of data analytics sites, and obviously, we work with like Verizon YouTube, all the major players on that.

Karan: And on the previous step that you mentioned, once the brief goes out and you have to actually create all these assets. Where is that happening? Are you using design software? Are you using any sort of automation? Any AI? I would love to know more.

Santiago: Yeah, absolutely. So, we’ve been playing more and more with AI obviously. As we all know, AI is still kind of Wild West. So we’ve been approaching AI from what we can build internally. We’re working with our internal teams to use generative AI for 3D and imagery, to save us some time internally and save us from hiring external resources to work on those images that you see on our site, for example new rooms. 

The whole idea is, that if we can get to a point where somebody has five different items in their cart, you should be able to hit a button and see it in your room. And that really means you need to have a robust AI engine on the back end of that. We already have that software for a really cool thing that our tech team did for our retail store where you can select cards, put them on a table and it kind of just pops up in your room. 

Some other uses of AI are that we’re working with Jasper for AI for some of our emails and that allows you to get quick responses out to your customers with headlines that are applicable to what has been clicked through in the past. And then obviously for our creative suite, we are fully in the Adobe world. You know, so everything in the Adobe Club.

CreativeOps challenges

Karan: Got it, seems like you have a very evolved and methodical process already laid out. But every process has areas of improvement. I’m just curious, are there any pain points? Like I wish this could have been better. Or hey, technologists all around the world, please solve this problem for us. Is there something top of mind or something that keeps you up at night?

Santiago: No, I mean, we figured everything out. You know, I don’t think anybody’s lied that bold-faced in a podcast yet. But no, obviously, like everybody, the constant pain point is feeling like do we just attack the things that are broken or how do we invest the time in things that work but could work better? You know, and a lot of that comes with change management. A lot of that comes with, you know, how do we siphon off enough of our time to test new capabilities with new platforms or capabilities and platforms we’re not utilizing to the fullest. And the thing there is you want to balance that against your business priorities. From a creative operation standpoint, like our number one goal is to deliver, our number two goal is…

Karan: Is to deliver more!

Santiago: So it’s really just about having those conversations internally and we’ve got a lot of really good buy-in about figuring out the next wave of delivering assets and delivering the message to our customer.

Karan: Yes, I mean, space is evolving, there are different ways of solving the problems today and potentially even more efficient ways of solving that problem. Gen AI, like you mentioned, is somewhere interesting enough to explore but maybe not adept enough from the perspective of it actually working in the context of large brands like yourself. I think there’s a little bit of chasm we need to cross from that perspective, right? But anything else on the pain points, any other challenges that you want others to hear and solve for you?

Santiago: Yeah, I mean, the true pain point that I see moving forward is we’ve realized that a lot of what you’ve done historically is kind of lost every time like a team changes or every time you start moving forward a new project. And there’s a lot of cost related to the fact that we don’t reuse our assets enough. 

When you look at, you know, an asset management system, people think like, oh, if it doesn’t search that well, that doesn’t really matter. It’s like, no, that actually really does matter, metadata and governance matter. Because when you plug in, say you plug in your DAM to the back end of your site, and instead of having to account for a team that says like, okay, this team is responsible for updating common images to something that is searched. If your DAM metadata is built out properly, it can auto-push assets up there. It can make sure that you are fully using everything you’ve ever done to influence and increase the quality of your product. and that gets lost when it’s just the mindset of like, okay, we need to do a new thing. We need to do a new category or we need to do a new classification or a new brand asset and we’re just losing the value of what we’ve already paid for. My favorite thing is that efficiency is profitability and people kind of get locked in that.

Karan: No, for sure. In fact, whenever we work with customers or prospective customers, the first thing we do is what we call a creative audit. So we walk through the process and we go through, okay, what does your current process look like? Based on your experience, where do you think that you need help, whether or not Rocketium could help in that context? And what we’ve realized through doing, you know, 100 plus of these audits is a lot of slack is built into the non creative processes. So, yes, in creative production, there is a little bit of slack but the amount of times you’ll just remake assets because, hey, some designer has it in his hard disk and now I don’t have access to that because that individual has left or there is so much back and forth in just getting the right feedback, incorporating it, not having to get on a call to explain it to that designer. There is so much of this activity that is going on even before and  after creative production that it really hurts the efficiency and thereby, like you said, profitability of that entire process. So, so completely aligned with you on that.

Santiago: And, the thing is, I don’t want anybody to lose their job, but there are people whose sole responsibility is to be in the middle and be, “Hey, we have this asset, but this channel wants it this way,” and that’s the entire job; crossing that gap. When in reality, you could just have this asset and then preset brand guidelines that let your channel owner go and be like, “Hey, I need this image for Pinterest, I need this image for catalog,” and then it just kicks out that asset with those aspect ratios and any brand guidelines that go along with it. You know, some brands want their logo here for this channel versus there for another. You don’t need the middle ground. It’s a shopping cart, it doesn’t have to be anything longer than that.

Karan: And not only that, you can actually extend it one step further and say that today communication has to be contextual. What you might have on a Meta may not be the same on a Pinterest and you need to curate your messaging accordingly. So apart from guidelines, it’s also about the best practices for channels so that your communication is contextual on each of those channels as well.

Santiago: Exactly.

Best practices for CreativeOps

Karan: In terms of any sort of tips and tricks, something that you’ve seen work? You’ve had a great journey and as you’ve kind of evolved these processes, if you had to share some tips and tricks that okay, these things really worked out well for us, or by doing this, it served our business. If you wanted to share some of those that would be awesome.

Santiago: Yeah, I mean, I think the big thing, I always keep in mind and I try to tell people is creative operations, while we’re not creative in the sense of like the designers or the editors or the writers, we do have a certain creativity about what we do. And the fact is if you’re just making sheets and trackers, we’re not moving the ball forward. I teach a class at Rutgers University specifically around DAM and AI. And from that, I learned from other people that there are things that people just need to be able to take that step on and get buy-in from your leadership, you know, around things we’ve previously talked about like data insights, right? I know it’s tough because we all have so many things going on. Teams are changing, teams are shrinking. you kind of get locked into what you’re doing. But the fact is if you can think about that final delivery step, it makes the creation step so much easier.

Karan: Wow, that’s a nice note too. Thank you so much, Santiago. I think this was a very enriching conversation. When we think of CreativeOps and we think of educating a lot of our listeners, our prospective customers all around the world, it’s conversations like these that help, right? Because this is a new space. 

There are a lot of evolved organizations like yours that have taken the leap and actually have set up specific teams to take this challenge and actually solve for business outcomes like increasing market share as you spoke about. But some of these insights will definitely be helpful for the rest of our listeners. Anything else, any parting thoughts before we put this to a close?

Santiago: Don’t be afraid of change. The people who do the most are the people who are willing to give an answer and be wrong sometimes. That is the biggest thing that makes companies and organizations get stuck in the mud. And don’t be like that.

Karan: That was, that was an amazing chat. Santiago, thanks so much for taking the time and I know that professionals like yourself are so busy delivering on campaigns, day in day out. So taking the time to do this , we really appreciate it and I hope to continue our conversation.

Santiago: Yeah, and go on Wayfair, we got some good stuff for you.

Karan: Awesome. We’ll do that. Thank you.

Sanskriti Nigam

Sanskriti Nigam

  • 0


Comments are closed.

Get Your Monthly CreativeOps Recap

Everything you need to know about CreativeOps for marketing and design teams, brought to you in minutes.

Thank you for subscribing.