John Goulding is global product director at Media iQ, a company which uses its proprietry analytics technology platform to deliver better targeted digital advertising campaigns.
Goulding gives us some nice insights into the world of programmatic, as well as letting us know what he gets up to day-to-day.
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Econsultancy: Please describe your job: What do you do? And who do you report to?
John Goulding: I’m primarily responsible for shaping the direction of our product and ensuring that it (and the business as a whole) is adapting to the opportunities and threats that lie ahead of us. Having said this, Global Product Director is probably a misnomer for me these days – my role is very diverse and reaches beyond product management into areas such as operations, strategy and compliance. I report into our COO, Paul Silver.
E: How did you get into programmatic, and where might you go from here?
JG: I think, like most people, I fell into programmatic by accident – I’d had a taste of biddable media running PPC for a small ecommerce site, and then landed a role at Associated Newspapers to manage their behavioural advertising. We got a Mediamath license in around 2011 in order to run audience extension against those high value behavioural audiences.
Beyond programmatic, I’m really interested in how the analytics technology which supports our ecosystem can help marketers on more diverse business challenges. I sometimes take a step back and think ‘All this amazingly intelligent technology, and the output is the delivery of an ad-banner’. There must be a higher purpose out there that we should be using it for, and that’s a broader set of big data challenges that will have a transformational effect on our clients’ business outcomes.
E: Which brands have you been impressed by recently when it comes to digital advertising?
JG: MEC ran a really brave campaign for Vodafone during the iPhone 7 launch where the creative made no mention of Apple or the iPhone. The campaign demonstrated a great understanding of the supply landscape – that by skirting Apple’s strict whitelist restrictions, you could reach high-value users that competitors weren’t reaching. The campaign was Vodafone’s most successful ever.
I’m not saying that distribution is always more important than the creative message, but sometimes it is!
E: What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
JG: A blend of technical and commercial abilities is pretty key. You also need to be a bit of an anorak: I’m by no means the most technical product director you’ll find, but I can compensate for this with an innate understanding of our clients, business and industry.
Layered on top of this, it’s essential to be future-facing – to embrace change by assessing how any disruptions you encounter can be turned into an opportunity.
E: Tell us about a typical working day…
JG: I like to get in early to clear emails and do a couple of hours’ work before the mania of the day starts. Then I’ll typically have a mixture of client meetings – to keep my finger on the pulse of what they require – and internal meetings catching up with Product Managers to learn about the cool new features they’re developing, or with senior stakeholders in the business to help prioritise our roadmap.
In the gaps in-between I’ll be building business cases, negotiating new supplier contracts or prepping for that next client meeting.
E: What do you love about your job? What sucks?
JG: I both love and hate the variety it brings. In any given day I can find myself playing the role of solutions engineer, salesperson, business analyst, compliance officer and troubleshooter. This is part and parcel of being a young and fast-growing business.
On the one-hand you never get bored; on the other hand, it can be hard to clear enough head-space for long-term thinking.
E: What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
JG: We’ve got product-level KPIs around the usage or revenue a given product should generate. On a higher level though we’re building towards a vision of helping businesses to unlock insight which drives business growth; there are some KPIs we can look at here (e.g. how quickly we can onboard new datasets for a client) but ultimately the best approach is to stay close to clients and their feedback, whilst all asking ourselves on a regular basis whether what we’re building is driving towards that vision.
E: What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
JG: Nothing ground-breaking – Confluence, Jira, Slack, Google apps… but the two I really couldn’t live without are good old Excel and Powerpoint.
E: Do you have any advice for people who want to work in adtech?
JG: Be curious and never stop learning.