What about the developer?

Have you ever wondered about the developer experience of your advertising? If you are marketing to developers, you absolutely should. Our goal with the “Meet the Developer” series is to give you, the marketer, insight into individual developers.  Meet the people behind the code and learn about how they experience the advertising and content you are throwing at them.

James Mullineux works in London in advertising technology (ad tech), and he participates in the Simple Programmer developer community.

I had the great pleasure of talking with James about himself and what draws him to an ad or a product placed in his developer community.

Tell us about yourself.

I’m a senior software engineer at a tech/media company in London. I consider myself a generalist, but my recent experience has mainly been in Java with a focus on Extreme Programming.

Why is Simple Programmer important to you?

I used to have a programming job that I hated. Good benefits. Decent salary. But my career was going nowhere. I started reading Simple Programmer—the blog, books, podcasts—and I started following their advice. [They have] not only great technical content, but productivity, interview and mindset tips, too. Now I have a new job that I love and a 50% pay raise. My next step: to interview for a promotion at my current company with the help of the Simple Programmer mastermind group.

What is the newest tech you are using, learning, excited about, curious about, and why?

Functional programming. It’s obviously not new, but it is becoming more popular with new languages like Elixir and Idris.

Besides Simple Programmer, where do you go for info about developer tools?

There is a strong developer community in London that is always throwing new ideas.

What ads for developer tools and services attract you?

Information, professional ads. The only ads I click on are ones that look high-quality and inform me of a product/company I didn’t know about, but is obviously of interest—for example, seeing an ad from a company I’ve bought from before, and I discover they’re releasing a new online course on a topic I’m interested in, but I didn’t know they had.

If you are interested in a product or service because of an ad, do you click on the ad or search the product/advertiser you see in the ad on a separate browser instance?

Unless [they’re] hitting the criteria above, I very rarely click on ads directly. But if I’m a bit interested, I might search for it in a different tab.

How do you feel when you visit content or another site you are interested in based on advertising, only to find that you have to give a phone number to get what is offered?

Extraneous information that will just be used to irritate me later is annoying. Depending on how much trust I have in the site, I might give a real number—or a fake one, or even give up entirely.

Same as above – except about when you are asked for a credit card?

I am still wary about giving my credit card to any company I don’t trust. Before purchasing, I do research about the company and the product. Sites like Simple Programmer are well ahead of the pack in this regard, as I’ve been following them so long—I trust them already.

What makes you bounce? Meaning—At what point do you navigate away when you visit content or a tool trial that you want, but you encounter a lot of requests for personal information? Email? Name? Phone number? Credit card? Other?

It depends on how relevant the request is to the content I’m looking for. I think it’s perfectly fine for a blog to collect email addresses so they can keep in touch with their readers. I often use fake email addresses or phone numbers if I don’t trust the site and want to see a bit of content to make a judgement about them before deciding if I should trust them further.

Once you’ve been asked for a lot of personal information in order to take advantage of an offer, how do you feel about that brand or product?

Anyone trying to harvest too much information from me before establishing their credibility is going to get fake information, and I will almost certainly never buy anything from them.

Have you ever found a technology and purchased it based on an ad run in your developer community? Why or why not?

Yes. It might have been the first time I saw it, or it might have been the last before purchase.  For me to buy, I need to have seen a combination of brand awareness advertising and credibility-building through good content marketing or community recommendations. The higher the status of the individual in the community giving the recommendation, the more weight I give to their recommendation. But that would still not be enough. I normally require repeated positive exposure before buying.

Any advice to marketers trying to reach developers?

I know a lot of programmers who push back on marketing and advertising. Even though I work in ad tech, I see people in my own company running ad blockers.

I am fine with marketing tactics. I like the long-form marketing page. A full-page pop-up thing can be annoying.  

Any tactic is fine, but it’s more for me about trust, and the environment where the tactic is being employed. I trust the influencers, but I like to see that they’ve actually used it (who and under what circumstances you should use the product). So, if you sell me something and can tell me who should use it, and when they should use it, that establishes trust.

In summary, establish trust. I don’t buy anything just based on an ad. I research everything. I need a really high level of trust before I buy things.