Guy Books is VP Product at ad security and verification company GeoEdge.
He spoke to Econsultancy about why intuition serves him well in his role, how GeoEdge measures success, and the advice he would give to a new product manager starting out.
Please describe your job: What do you do?
Guy Books: As VP Product at ad security and verification provider GeoEdge, I’m responsible for translating the company’s vision and goals into an actionable product roadmap.
At GeoEdge, our main focus is the prevention of any ad-related security issues that compromise user safety. In order to constantly stay on top of the game, we need to be one step ahead of cyber attackers. To do this, we developed new approaches to combat new security attacks. For example, until a few years ago, security vendors relied on blacklisting domains used by malicious advertisers to stop attacks. Today, that tactic is no longer as effective so GeoEdge developed layers of behavioral analysis that enable us to detect new attacks that were previously undetectable.
I work closely with our customer-facing team, which helps me understand the ecosystem’s current and future challenges. Then, I convey these insights to our engineering and security teams – who develop and update our product offerings.
Whereabouts do you sit within the organization? Who do you report to?
Guy Books: As VP Product, I report to our CEO and work most closely with our Sales and Customer Success teams to ensure that our products are addressing the ecosystem’s needs and that we maintain our position as an industry leader.
One of our core values at GeoEdge is collaboration. Since joining the company just over a year ago, I’ve put together cross-functional task forces and put a lot of effort into this mode of work. We truly see the difference in results when customer-facing teams and technical teams work together.
Working this way provides our organization with unique insights into our customers’ needs and facilitates delivering real value.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
Guy Books: The most critical skill that has served me in my career in product management is being intuitive. I’m usually not the smartest guy in the room (no pun intended) but I am able to understand even unclearly articulated customer pain points and start working on solutions to problems that haven’t been finitely defined. Our Content Vertical Management offering is one recent example of this.
Another skill that has served me well is my proactive approach. A good product manager has to constantly initiate product improvements, know what’s going on in the industry and prioritize support and feature requests, and it takes a self-starter to get all this done.
Tell us about a typical working day…
Guy Books: A typical day starts with me waking up early and checking my phone to see what’s new with our customers. I have to stay vigilant on monitoring their performance closely to assure that they maintain their revenue.
I then jump on my bike and get in my daily workout. As a four-time Iron Man participant, this is my form of meditation which helps me start my day with the right attitude and energy levels.
Upon arriving in the office, I meet with our team to discuss the current issues our customers are facing and receive an update on our progress on the product roadmap and features. Customer-facing issues impact the timing of new product features to ensure that our customers are maintaining and growing their revenue and that they’re increasing their usage of GeoEdge’s products.
During the course of the day, I meet with the R&D, Sales, and Customer Success teams to get their specific feedback which I’ll report to our product team. I also find myself quite often on calls or in meetings with our clients. This direct interaction with them allows me to stay in touch with their needs and pain points.
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
Guy Books: What I love about this job is that we’re really making the ecosystem better and safer. I enjoy working with pretty much all the departments in the company and have a significant impact on the company’s future. I find this challenge interesting, making me happy to wake in the morning and go to work.
On the downside, malicious and offensive advertisers don’t have my kid’s birthdays or triathlons in their calendars, so sometimes I have to work when it’s rather inconvenient.
What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
Guy Books: The main metrics we strive for at GeoEdge are (1) ad quality and, (2) maintaining or increasing our publisher’s ad revenue. We achieve these metrics by reducing malicious ads and auto-redirect ads, decreasing compliance issues, poor ad complaints, and offensive (though not necessarily malicious) ads as well as cutting the time spent by ad operations teams dealing with ad quality.
These actions all improve our publishers’ business, which is why customer business KPIs like increases in monetization, revenue, and earnings as well as improvements in the number of page views and the amount of time spent onsite/in-app are so important to us at GeoEdge.
What are your favorite tools to help you to get the job done?
Guy Books: The tools I use to do my job at GeoEdge include the dashboard we’ve created using Kibana, an open-source data visualization technology which is my primary analytics tool, as well as customer feedback tools like Intercom.
How did you end up at GeoEdge, and where might you go from here?
Guy Books: With more than a decade of experience in various product management roles at marketing technology companies, I was attracted to GeoEdge because of the challenges of the opportunity, the startup mentality and my desire to improve the experience for users all over the world.
I had previously worked with GeoEdge as a client and was impressed with the team and the product offering. As I met with the CEO and the team and learned more about how they’ve developed and used their behavioral analytics technology, it became clear that they have a tremendous understanding of the market.
As for the future next step, I’m having too much fun at GeoEdge working with our team, industry and clients to be thinking about that.
Which advertising has impressed you lately?
Guy Books: Though this ad campaign is a few years old (and not a product category which men usually pay attention to), as a father of a young girl (and two boys), and a runner/triathlete, the Always #LikeAGirl campaign is one which I really admire. I see the importance of the message of female empowerment every day.
What advice would you give a product manager starting out?
Guy Books: The most important advice I’d give to a product manager starting out is to persevere. There will always be people who will challenge what you say or do, and remember, there are two sides to every story. It’s important to understand both sides.
The second piece of advice would be to join an organization that will let you fail. There is no such thing as the perfect product, and the best way for a product manager to learn is through their own personal failures. Because everything is tested, the initial failures will be in the lab on test clients, but these lessons of learning from initial failures are still real and important.
It’s important to overcome any challenges or obstacles that stand in your way and to empower yourself to succeed.
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