Ask our Head of Product & Partner Engagement

Rita Amaral
October 18, 2023
4 min read
 min read

We have been running for 5 years now (yay, happy birthday to us) and during this period product was definitely our main focus. With a growing company, where we have more partners and clients joining us every month as well as a bigger team, it’s only natural that we start to expand our product capabilities. We are looking into adding more features and testing new functionalities while also strengthening what we’ve built so far. 

To help us do that, we count with the help of Matthew Gill — our Head of Product and Partner Engagement — so we asked him a few questions about his role at Advertio and got to know him a little better. Here’s what he had to say. 

What do you think are the key drivers to building great products?

The most successful products launched to market are built on the foundation of delivering unique value and benefits to customers that are not otherwise addressed by other products that are available. Added to that, the value your product brings should be very simple and clear to explain. You should be able to describe any product in an ‘elevator pitch’ scenario if you set the right context.

What are your best references for great products? Why do you consider them great?

I dread to think how many hours of my life I have spent on the Sony Playstation but there is a reason it is regularly the best selling-console on the market. Firstly they leveraged existing technology better than their competition (in the early days, the first console with a CD drive, allowing them to build bigger and better games and build an audience). This is very relevant to the work Advertio does today considering our tech is reliant on what the publisher networks are offering.

Coming back to Sony, they have been commercially savvy - striking exclusive deals to bring popular game franchises (like Final Fantasy) to their platform in the early days and becoming a must-have purchase for gamers. And finally, they continue to innovate - you can hardly consider the PlayStation 5 a games console anymore, it is a complete Home Entertainment System which.

As for other great products, like them or loathe them, Apple’s iPhone introduction and the services they built-in to complement it (App Store, then iCloud, then Apple Music, etc) completely revolutionised modern mobile technology and essentially meant consumers had to nail their colours to the Apple mast, or elsewhere. Creating a loyalist mentality as strong as this is virtually unparalleled anywhere else in the world. Anyone remember Blackberry? Without BBM, they had nothing!

What do you think are the top 3 skills for a PM?

  • Communication: Product roles are required to work with every other function within the business (Technology, Operations, Finance, Legal, Marketing, etc). If you can’t communicate effectively across departments with varying interest, skills and expertise, you will struggle to convey your vision to your colleagues. Likewise, if you can’t clearly express your ideas when writing backlogs, stories and epics, the business cannot execute.
  • Organisation: Working in a fast-paced environment, particularly within the Agile framework at a Technology-first business, can make life particularly hectic for a Product Manager. You are required to meet multiple deadlines on a regular basis to ensure the pipeline of work for engineers continues to be topped up, not least because failure to do so results in your customers losing out. It can be very easy to lose focus on the key short, medium and long term roadmap priorities if your work is not clearly organised and reviewed frequently.
  • Problem-Solving: It is very rare to submit requirements and for them to be universally accepted with no questions and no clarifications. PMs need to be able to solve problems to realise the desired results without compromising the overall objective of the project. The ability to think laterally allows PMs to understand more about the feature they are trying to introduce, and normally produces a better net result in the long-term.

How do you promote a product mindset across the entire organisation?

This is quite simple for me. Put yourselves in the shoes of our customers, understand who they are and what their objective is. Who are our customers? There are two broad customer types we should keep in mind - Small/Medium sized business owners (direct advertisers) and Partner Agencies that manage a large number of these SMEs. What is their objective? To maximise the return on their investment from the campaigns they run with us. This doesn’t change across either customer group. Everything we do should be geared towards making that objective easier to deliver.

What are the main advantages of working at a startup vs a bigger corporation? 

Individuals have much greater autonomy to make quick decisions that have an impact on the fortunes of the business. Bigger corporations are bogged down with drawn out approval processes and bureaucracy which often leads to long periods of inertia. More effort is put into getting approval for a project, than executing the project successfully. Another major advantage is the ability to build strong relationships with the whole organisation, rather than being forced to seek allies in different departments to help you along as it would be impossible to spend time getting to know everybody. There are very few people I haven’t yet had a valuable experience with at Advertio.

What is your spiritual animal?

I had to take what I’m sure is a highly accurate online test to get this result and I am apparently a Deer….

What’s your favourite city in the world? 

Hmm, I’m not sure I’ve visited it yet. I’d have to say Rome for now, but I want to get out to Wellington in New Zealand and watch some cricket :)

What’s your favourite dish? 

Hmmm, this is a toss up between Mexican and Italian. Maybe a Calzone for Starters and Enchiladas for main… Can I do that?

Favourite ice-cream flavour?

Not really a dessert kinda guy, but it would have to be Chocolate Chip for me.

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