Being an ad tech product manager: The Chaos & the Calm 🙏

#spoileralert: it’s mostly chaos

This is the first episode of a new series of posts called Jampper Stories. In each release we’ll interview and highlight a different Jampper, going through what makes him or her special as well as a in-depth look into their role at Jampp.

Quino, our first Jampper Story

Our kick-ass Product Manager, Carlos Quinodoz (a.k.a. Quino, no to be confused with this other legend) tells us what he’s learned working in Product, the perks and challenges of his role.

What is it like to be a Product Manager in ad tech? How tech savvy do Product Managers have to be? What does a Product Manager do at Jampp? In this post, Quino shares his experience.

Tell us a little bit about your experience before joining Jampp

Right after I got my degree in International Relations, I started teaching Economics and Political Science in different universities. After that, I joined an Import/Export business as a trader where I was offered to lead a small team for an e-commerce project because of my programming knowledge. My Dad had taught me to code PICs when I was 10 or 12, and a few years later I learned HTML, Javascript and PHP by myself. That project re-connected me with the tech world and I said to myself “This is fulfilling for me, this is what I want to do for a living”. At that point I knew I wanted to join a company where the rest of the people felt the same way and luckily I found Jampp.

Coming from a different background, what was it like to make the “switch” to Jampp and Product in particular?

I joined Jampp a little over 3 years ago. It was just before we received external funding and went through hectic growth. That meant that I was lucky enough to be trained by the guys who basically founded and conceived the company. Also, when I joined Jampp, I was actually working in Business Operations as an Account Manager. I was using our platform everyday to run our customers’ campaigns. So I got to know the product inside out. Of course, there was still a lot to learn…

Blurring the screen to spare you the spoiler (that’s how innovative our tech is) 🤓❤️

How did you know this was the role for you?

As with many things in life, I didn’t really realize until I was in a “Product Manager’s” shoes. Also, full disclosure, I joined the Product Team the same day it was created. As one of the early arrivers I had the chance to “create a position where I fit”. But this doesn’t mean we didn’t have to take notes of what Product Managers from other companies were doing, it just means we created the Product Manager’s position “the Jampp way”.

What’s a typical day for you?

It can get pretty chaotic. Not gonna lie. That’s why you need to really love it. Between emails, meetings with the Data Science, Tech and Ops teams, creating product briefs, reviewing customer feedbacks and working on the proof of concepts… well, there’s not a lot of “quiet” time to dive into technical documentation or scientific papers that require a little more concentration. I usually tackle those on the weekend. Like I said, you need to really love it. 🤓

What do you think are the main challenges Product Managers face in ad tech?

I would say that the first challenge is to resist the temptation of building “work-around-products” that have little or null scalability. Sometimes it’s much easier to go down that path but it will probably backlash down the road when you have to scale the product. One of our values at Jampp is Think Big and Long Term, so the whole team has the no “work-around-products” message pretty much ingrained. It’s often challenging, but we stick to it.

Also, while I feel very lucky to work with really smart developers and data-scientists, it is quite a challenge to keep up with their level of understanding of the technical concepts we manage on a day to day basis.

But I would say that the most challenging thing about this role is to be able to make really complex things accessible. Anybody can say “what” something is and “how” it works. The hard thing to explain is “why” we have built it. Why do marketers need it? What’s its purpose for the business?

Even if you build the most amazing thing in the world, if you cannot communicate it’s reason of existence, the product will undoubtedly fail. I’d say that for me, that’s where the work starts. Everything else feels like a hobby that I take seriously.

Ok, so communication is at the core of your role. Tell us a little more about your interaction with the different teams.

You have to be very conscious of who is asking the question. It would be a mistake to assume the same language for Tech, Operations or Sales.

In that sense, it’s always easier to talk with the guys from Tech because there’s a “family resemblance” (to use Ludwig Wittgenstein’s term), meaning that you are already so used to the terminologies you use on a daily basis that they work as a “shortcut for complex ideas” without the need of having to go through the whole idea again and again. With them, you often reply the “how” product works.

When it comes to Operations, there’s still a “family resemblance” in the language because I came from that team and also because they are the ones constantly using the product. They know almost everything about it: strong points, flaws and even the work-arounds. So with them you often reply to the “what” the product does.

Sales has it harder, because they have to explain the “why” of the product to customers and prospects. As a Product Manager, I have to help them build those answers. Our answers need to be concise, clear and direct. In other words, they need to be a marketing statement without sounding like one. And believe me when I say… that is hard as hell.

What’s the most exciting project you are working on right now?

We have a few interesting projects at the moment. We are looking into user reactions to colors to optimize ad creation. We are also developing some cool stuff for our audience builder tools, exciting updates ahead.

You’ve been in the mobile ad tech space for the past 3 years… what do you think is the biggest challenge?

We are reaching a point of maturity in the industry, but rather than meaning the establishment of a status quo, I think it will be full of changes. At Jampp, we have been preparing for that moment for a really long time, we always had faith that the future of the industry would be for those who made a bet on technology and not for those who have speculated with a short-term-advertiser-pocket-looting model. That’s why we went 100% programmatic last year, to help advertisers get more transparency and control over their media spend. This was akin to changing the tires on a moving car (or that’s what it felt like) but it was worth it.

Kind of a cliché question, but… how do you keep growing and learning?

The first thing anyone will realize right away after joining Jampp is that you are surrounded by people that are way smarter, more skilled and talented than you.

No matter how much your grandma, professors or friends adulated you, you will not be the smartest person in the room anymore because we are talking about having rocket-scientist type, super talented guys as co-workers.

How do you keep up with that? Working harder than anyone else. Studying and reading way more than you ever did at university. Suddenly, you’ll find studies and papers are vital to understand feature brainstorming and the coffee break jokes in the kitchen. 😂

What made Jampp the right fit for you?

I always tell the same story, but it’s true: before joining Jampp I was offered to join another company, much larger, what we would call “a corporation”. For some reason I decided to come in for an interview, and there I was sitting in front of this guy wearing shorts and a Nintendo shirt, who is telling me about all this interesting products they are developing… and I’m thinking “This guy doesn’t feel the need to be dressed in a suit to sound serious.” and also “I want to work with him”. And that’s still true today: I love what I do here, but that’s not the reason why I’m still around, it’s because of the people I work with.

About Jampper Stories

Our team is our greatest asset and we are happy to share a few of their stories. If you want to learn more about what it’s like to work at Jampp, follow us on Instagram at @gojampp or visit jampp.com/jobs to find the right opportunity and see for yourself 😉