In the fast-moving tech space, Sara Hall’s job is to be the ultimate connector. As Product Marketing Director at Quantcast, she acts as a bridge between the development team building a product and the customers who will ultimately use it. “Product marketing is the connective tissue between our internal teams and our customers,” she says. “It’s our role to understand the market and make sure that the product meets the client’s needs.”
Read on to trace her path into the tech world, see her tips on how to land product marketing jobs, and find out the best career advice she’s ever received.
Tell us about your career journey, and what led you to your job at Quantcast?
I worked in the advertising world for about ten years, for brands like Domino’s Pizza and Borders Books, and agencies like Omnicom and WPP. In most of those roles, I was responsible for media planning and investment. I’d decide where brands should spend their advertising dollars for the best return. Those experiences were formative, and I still consider myself a media buyer at heart.
I then joined YouTube, where I spent six years in a variety of roles ranging from sponsorship development to product marketing. When I joined, there were just six salespeople. By the time I left, it was a significant part of Google with hundreds of team members.
After that, I moved to Waze, which is another part of Google. I started the Ads Marketing function, including product and trade marketing. I helped the business grow dramatically over five years and realized my favorite role was Product Marketing. Last year I was looking for a new challenge and got excited about what I found at Quantcast.
What attracted you to work at Quantcast?
Quantcast has a strong reputation for its technology, campaign performance, and stellar customer service. The company’s first product, Quantcast Measure, has helped thousands of publishers worldwide better understand their audiences. With those insights, they’re able to better tailor content to drive more engagement and command higher advertising revenues from brands. Ultimately, this helps publishers hire more reporters and produce more quality content. Access to trustworthy content online has arguably never been more critical, and the opportunity to help support that was compelling.
I also saw this as an excellent opportunity to strengthen my knowledge of the programmatic business. I had spearheaded the programmatic inventory strategy at Waze. I loved that Quantcast has not only a robust advertising business but products for publishers and consent management as well.
What are you responsible for in your role at Quantcast?
My team, Product Marketing, is a bridge between the product and the marketplace. We help with both the prioritization and filtering of the various product features and, more importantly, the translation of benefits into market-facing messaging. I think of it as storytelling built on tangible benefits. It’s our responsibility to understand our customers. We help shape the product to anticipate market needs. And we tell the story of our products so that prospects see the value, become customers, and grow into advocates.
I lead a team of about a dozen extremely talented people around the world. The group includes employees who focus on storytelling and content creation. Other team members are product specialists who make sure our sales and customer success teams know how to navigate our products. We also create processes (like training) to make things more efficient for the sales team that we support. In the end, a core measure of our team’s success is if the company achieves its revenue and customer growth goals.
What do you like best about the company culture at Quantcast? What do you think sets the culture apart from other companies like it?
Quantcast’s employees are not only hard-working, but they have a massive sense of partnership and ownership. Everyone seems happy to pitch in and collaborate and is united in excitement about our mission, which is to build the audience platform to simplify advertising on the open internet radically.
I want to be a part of a company that makes life easier for media planners and improves how the advertising ecosystem works.
What are you working on right now that excites or inspires you?
A product we launched recently, Quantcast Choice, has empowered consumers worldwide to make informed data privacy decisions following the rollout of GDPR in Europe. We just announced that we’re supporting the new California Consumer Privacy Act in the U.S. This makes it easier for Americans to have more control over their personal data.
We’ve only just scratched the surface with what product marketing function can achieve, and I relish the opportunity to lead that growth.
What’s unique or interesting about working in advertising at this moment in time?
The primary function of advertising—persuasion and emotional connection—hasn’t changed. What continually changes in advertising is how we do that more effectively and more creatively. In digital advertising, there are always new formats, new ways of targeting, new ways of executing campaigns. Marketers are busier than ever before navigating this complicated ecosystem that we work in, so we need to find ways to make it easy for them to achieve their goals and spend time on higher-level tasks.
What advice would you give someone who is looking to get into product marketing?
Aim to understand your customers completely. Do research, be curious, talk to as many people as you can. And be continually thinking about what makes a good story. Being a voracious consumer of all kinds of content helps. Looking back, I think my college experience with areas as diverse as theater, psychology, comparative literature, and art history has helped me.
How do you work cross-functionally with other teams at Quantcast?
I love people. I am motivated by trying to see where another person’s role and mine intersect: What do we both need to achieve, and how can we help each other? One of my most important jobs is to build strong relationships with the other teams we work with and remove roadblocks for my team. I spend a lot of time with my cross-functional counterparts in other areas of marketing, legal, customer success, sales, engineering, and product.
What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?
You can learn from anyone, so always be willing to learn. I like to surround myself with people that have different skill sets and experience, so we can all teach and push one another on to achieve great things.