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.

I had the great pleasure of corresponding with Ted Neward. Ted is the director at Smartsheet, and is also a well-known software consultant, writer, and speaker. Ted understands that advertisers are trying to sell something to him. Just be honest about it.

Who are you?

Ted Neward. To a small percentage of the world’s population, I am moderately famous.

Why do you write for developer communities?

Because I’m moderately famous to a small percentage of the world’s population, and because that percentage comes to CodeProject to find out about stuff, companies will often ask me to write technical articles of various forms about their stuff, so that it doesn’t appear like a vendor’s (biased) fluff piece. Fortunately for the readers of CodeProject, I don’t let vendors tell me what to write—and overall, it works out well for all parties involved.

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

Currently, it’s probably WebAssembly, although that’s not as sexy as AI/machine learning, IOT, or (shudder) Blockchain. Having said that, though, WebAssembly is far more likely to have an actual impact on developers’ lives than any of the other three.

Where do you go for info about developer tools?

Developer portals (CodeProject, InfoQ, DZone, Hacker News), certain people on Twitter, my speaker friends, and just rummaging around the Internet sometimes.

What ads for developer tools and services attract you?

The ones that are straightforward, to the point, a touch irreverent, and clearly come from a developer’s perspective. Ads which tout ridiculous productivity gains usually get filed in the round file in my head. Ads which tell me what the tool does, how it does it, and what makes it different from its competitors at least get a second look. If they touch on a developer pain point without being overbearing about it, or use a touch of humor, I’ll sometimes even click the link.

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?

If I’m concerned about the tracking, I’ll fire up an incognito window. If I’m lazy, nah, but I’m also generally not that lazy.

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?

Buh-bye. Never bait-and-switch a developer. Not only are we horribly cynical about any marketing campaign, we’re also often just annoyed enough to want to find a way to punish the offender. Like signing up for a Google Voice or Tropo account (whichever will let me make outgoing calls) just so I can use the API to crank-call the phone number repeatedly until they shut the phone number down. Of course, I personally have never done this… But I know people who have.

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

Nope. If it’s a free trial, it doesn’t need a credit card. If it’s a service that has a free tier, and the credit card is in case the free tier is exceeded, I’ll think long and hard about it before providing one—the service really has to be something that I really want to explore. Not a lot make that cut. Sometimes, however, I’ll put in a card number that’s over the limit, just to see if there’s an attempt to make a charge, and if there is, I’ll raise holy hell with the company for attempting to charge when no charge was explained or described.

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?

If it’s just content, and you’re asking for personal info, buh bye. Asking for my name is pointless without email or some other contact info, and I’m not THAT interested in your content. (Or I’ll spelunk the website code to see if I can find what the URL for the content is, and try just bypassing the request screen.) If I provide an email, it’ll be a Gmail account that has your company’s name included in it (like “tedneward+developermedia@gmail.com”), so when the spam rolls in, I can track who sold the email address, and raise holy hell if that wasn’t allowed by the terms of service. (Or even if it is allowed.) If you’re providing content, make it clear up front that you want an email in exchange, but don’t bait-and-switch.

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?

Look—I get how marketing works, and you want to put my name on a targeted list of folks that you can email with offers. Just say that—Don’t try to pretend you’re doing me a favor. But if you lie to me, or if you offer a thing and then yank it away behind a wall of some sort, you are not building a great brand reputation in my head, and there are too many alternatives out there, in any part of the market, for me to be concerned about never using you or your product ever again.

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

Yes, but usually not without some research. Most developer tools aren’t sold to individuals—They’re sold to companies.