Please describe your job: What do you do?
I’m Chief Technology Officer and co-founder at Adimo, an add-to-basket digital marketing company. My role sees me working with the product and development teams on strategy, making sure we’re delivering the best results for our clients our products.
Our goal at Adimo is to make online shopping easier, enabling users to add products to their favourite retailer shopping basket from almost any digital marketing materials. Consumers don’t need to navigate between webpages to add to their shopping lists while brands can close the purchasing loop in the marketing stage, acquiring a lot of useful data as a result (For more on the platform, see another interview with Colin Brown on the Adimo blog. Ed.)
With this in mind, most of my time is spent optimising how our tech can influence the customer experience, as well as overseeing the design of the components, focusing on scalability and performance.
Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
I report to my fellow co-founder Richard Kelly, our CEO. We met at the digital marketing agency Dog Digital, sitting next to each other and enjoying the inevitable after-work beers that followed. We both continued to work in marketing but both got sick of never being able to directly link brand marketing to sales. Working together, we developed Adimo’s proposition and launched the company.
As such, I’m part of the senior management team and sit on the company board as well.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
Problem solving is absolutely key. Although I don’t get involved in writing production code, I have a strong understanding of our platform, its architecture and how it’s used, whether internally, by clients or by consumers. This means I’m in a great position to troubleshoot any problems we’re having, both from a technical perspective – I had my own .NET consultancy business before starting Adimo so I’m quite technically minded – but also from a process perspective too.
Another skill I find important is working with numbers. I get quite a lot of satisfaction diving into our analytics platform and extracting weird and interesting stats. I’m not scared by a big Excel spreadsheet either, unless pivot tables are involved…
Colin Brown, CTO at Adimo
Tell us about a typical working day
The drive to work is vital time for me, since I start planning out my day in the car so that I’m ready to go as soon as I arrive at my desk. I aim to arrive before 9, since it’s nice to start the day quietly without phone or email interruptions.
Once I’ve planned my workload and dealt with any high-priority emails, I usually spend my time moving between different teams to help solve any issues they may be facing. This means joining the technical team’s “daily standup”, where we all come together to collaborate on any development issues, any problems from the wider team and to identify potential blockers that could slow projects down. I’ll also make time for the account management, developments and office management teams, helping where I can and checking on progress.
After lunch I’ll try and focus my attention on research & development. This could range from improving our deployment process to working on a prototype of a new feature that enhances one of our products. In short, if it can be improved or innovated on, I spend my time making it happen.
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
I love my team, as we’re all natural problem solvers. It’s tremendously gratifying to all pull together on tech that can sometimes be complex but is essentially all about making peoples’ lives easier, whether that’s the customer shopping online or the marketer trying to find a new channel to harness. It’s complicated work with a very straightforward and practical end goal.
That being said, I’m not a massive fan of documentation or reporting. It’s clearly an important job but writing it bores me to death! I’m much more kinetic, happier to demonstrate things rather than write about them.
What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
Our product is geared towards turning content into an online checkout, so as well as tracking straightforward sales we measure each phase of the path to purchase. Each step of this journey gives us a wealth of customer behavioural information and insights that we can then feed back to our clients to inform their marketing decisions. We track variables such as whether the customer has followed a call to action, which retailer they favour when adding to a shopping basket, whether they compared prices or jumped straight to a basket.
We also assess how these different metrics relate to each other too. We can track the level of drop off between steps, from initial engagement through to basket, so we can tweak the process if it’s becoming too slow or boring for the customer. Since we give the option to add to a weekly shop to complete later or to buy immediately, we also track different types of revenue. Revenue and Latent Revenue are metrics that highlight the value of these customers to the brand once they have completed the successful Add to Basket or Buy Now journey.
What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
I’d be lost without Evernote. I have notes for everything from meeting write-ups, to-do lists, documentation (urgh), even photos of handwritten notes – I’ve got it all.
Otherwise, I love using Atom. It’s my Mac development environment of choice, alongside all the additional plugins I’ve added to make my life easier.
How did you get into adtech, and where might you go from here?
I studied Computing Science at university but after graduating went into digital marketing, so I suppose my career has always been a blend of advertising and technology. I tipped over from being a marketing professional into fully-fledged adtech simply by realising that marketing needed more technology if it was going to be successful. With the rise of ad-blockers, brands need innovative ways to track the impact of their online advertising to avoid budget wastage. It’s the whole premise behind Adimo.
As for what’s next, I’ll focus on building up Adimo and exploring new channels. I certainly think there’s a lot of potential in augmented and virtual reality for add-to-basket tech, so I imagine I may be spend the next few months wearing a headset.
Which brands do you think are doing display/video advertising well?
I liked the Ted Baker shoppable video campaign from the start of the year, as it allowed you to click on the separate tags to immediately browse and shop that particular range. This kind of interactive video is becoming a fascinating marketing medium that gives customers engaging content while also enabling them to shop without leaving the publisher’s website. I think we’ll be seeing a lot more of this in near future.
Do you have any advice for people who want to work in adtech?
Be a geek about what you do, even if you’re not in a dedicated technical role. The best people I’ve worked with are those that enjoy what they do and are interested enough that they don’t just work on it nine to five. Of course you should always be focused on your current campaign, but do try and save some time for side project that interest you, as you never quite know what it’ll turn into. Mine evolved into a business!