Self-involved, but with a great taste in music

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What is it you'd say you DO around here?

(did office space make my top 10? too many movies!!)

[this is going to be an especially long and boring post, really it's just something that I can direct people to it when they ask]

I get asked what I do all the time. Understandable. When people don't know who you are they can't really ask "WHO ARE YOU?" I think it's rare that a profession can accurately describe who you are (although "whore" is actually a profession AND noun AND adjective... the swiss army knife of professions), kinda like "what's your major?". But my job certainly does impact me and I'll explain that as it is a portion of who I am on a day-to-day basis. Well, no, I won't. I wrote a friend of mine an email talking about what I do, so I'm going to copy/paste/edit because typing this again might make me quit.

I'm a product manager for a small software company based in Scottsdale, AZ. The company is called (n)TORUS and we focus helping content providers effectively monetize their video content online, so How I Met Your Mother on is an example.

Here's the gist about the industry:

With the advent of the DVR a massive restructuring of advertising supported content was destined to occur. Broadcast companies like FOX, NBC, CBS, etc. do get some incremental revenue from cable bills, but they make most of their money from advertising.

Well, with DVR's penetration into the market, fewer people are watching commercials yet still consuming professional content. Good for the consumers, I say; until you see how that impacts the market. Advertisers are unwilling to pay the same rates as before because people are skipping their ads. So as the "verifiable" tv audience shrinks, so do the ad dollars. Well, what pays for shows like "How I met your Mother"? Ad dollars. So now you're seeing a dramatic increase in reality tv. Why? No writers. No directors. No high-priced actors. It's cheap and people will watch it. This is why Leno moved to primetime. Even if he didn't do well the show would be more profitable than making a high-priced show to run during primetime.

So the wall at the end of the train tracks spells an end for professional content. TV would go the way of reality TV and user-generated videos while actors would go to movies or pay channels like HBO. Everyone loses a little (to a lot) in this scenario.

(long paragraph about the problem... basically TV is going online networks like CBS need to figure out how to make as much money online as they do on TV)

Enter (n)TORUS. (where I work)

Our ad model is akin to the magic bullet. We extract more value from each ad viewed, so the revenues are higher for networks and consumers need to watch less advertising per show. How? It's a bit technical, but we use targeting, market research, and volunteered user data to create greater relevance and higher engagement. All of our extraction methods are based on what a user does, not scanning their computer/cookies or anything.

(skipping long explanation of how the system works. my poor friend, i made her suffer through all of it)

(I run with this Pez example for a long time, but it doesn't make sense without the explanation of how the system works. So I'll just say that Pez is great. What were my favorite Pez characters, I wonder...)

(more how it works babble)

That's the quickest and dirtiest way to explain it.

You haven't answered the question.

Right. I'm responsible for the products we create. Here's one of them:

Ad Labs

So if you went to the feedback form on this site and said, "I hate this and you" I'd get that email. I'd collect your feedback, determine if it's warranted (store it if it's bogus or crazy), and slot it against what needs to be executed right away. I then check our development cycle and break apart projects into smaller pieces. Then I solicit/propose ideas from our team. I'd then get with the business folks and try to get the greenlight on what things should be done in the order that I feel is most appropriate. I then meet with engineering and see what they'd need to get started.

I document all this and then I work on making sure that when March XX rolls around that we're ready to hit the ground running. That means getting with design to mock changes, getting those approved, getting materials for engineering and mapping out their requirements... things like that. Then we hold a meeting to answer any questions and the team is off. I manage design and engineering along the way. I check their work as they go and close their requirements as they complete them. We don't have a QA person, so I do the bug checking/testing as well. We also cut our marketing guy, so I'm that too. I was hired as a technical writer, but after I finish my contract work they brought me on and I worked my way into this role. My unofficial job is to improve/maintain company morale. I do this with my Jon Secada videos and, kinda like Cole's singing bass, I plant a Halo helmet all over the office. Someone will run over it with their car (intentionally) in due time.

We have about twelve products that are live and we're developing new ones each month. So those are my babies.

I like the experience. I have my fingerprints on everything that goes out the door. In a small company environment I learn how to run things when I take my shot. But, like everything else, you learn plenty on what not to do by those around you.

So hopefully one day I can round up some people and start executing on some of these ideas I've had over the years, but I guess I'm still learning how to make it happen. Plus when you turn into a CEO you apparently turn into a huge douche nozzle.


Kristin said...

so you actually do work.. you had me fooled.

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