Overcoming Challenges when Hiring Adtech Product Managers

We've been building product teams for tech startups since 2006. Shortly after the launch of our Product Practice in 2016, we began engaging with leaders across the adtech category. Through these searches, we quickly learned that hiring adtech Product Managers was a friction-filled hiring journey for most product leaders.

Here are the three common friction points that make hiring adtech Product Managers challenging and what to do about it.

1. It's Complicated

Adtech is a complicated product category because it involves vast amounts of data, moving through a web of interconnected partners, and applying real-time bidding while adhering to data privacy laws. It also includes many subset categories of ad applications with their use cases. 

For this reason, hiring a Product Manager can become overwhelming if the candidate persona being targeted is too broad. Often, the persona of an "adtech Product Manager" does not sufficiently capture the specific qualities and expertise that an organization needs to hire.

Identifying the skills and experiences required to solve the problems the hire will be tasked to solve is the first step towards the journey of hiring the right Product Manager persona.

In fact, we’ve even seen cases where the experiences required to be successful didn’t even include adtech experience; they really needed someone with the ability to lead discovery into new opportunities.

2. Compensation

Adtech Product Managers are some of the most highly paid PMs in the tech industry. Early-stage adtech startups with startup budgets often underestimate what it will take to attract and convert these candidates into an employee.

Salaries are as high for a number of reasons:

  1. Firstly because of the direct impact adtech has on revenue growth - big numbers, big responsibilities, big salaries.
  2. Second is the result of the complexity of the category. Many employers put a premium price on subject matter expertise, so total compensation is often used to lock talent into organizations. 

Overcoming compensation to attract a hire is complex. While on the one hand, many Product Managers move for reasons other than money, investing time to find the person willing to do that can significantly extend how long it takes to fill a role.

Understanding the budget, its flexibilities, and being in a position of readiness to quickly move on qualified talent are key parts of converting a candidate to an employee. 

3. Candidate Apathy

In the words of one adtech VP-level candidate we recently spoke with:

'There is very little differentiation in the subcategories of adtech. Everyone essentially does the same thing, has the same messaging, and tries to achieve the same outcome. Unless they have a special algorithm, it's essentially all the same.'

Candidate apathy has the power to qualify a candidate out of consideration even before they become an actual candidate in the interview process. Our Recruiters have experienced this when engaging with adtech Product Managers, many of whom have such a high degree of apathy for their own product category and often express strong interest in only considering opportunities outside of adtech.

To overcome this unusual friction point when hiring, stakeholders must be ready to over-communicate and sell. Strongly communicate product differentiators, analyst insights, and the reasons why investors invested. Thoroughly communicate throughout the interview process. Reinforce the things that matter to the candidate; this is likely to convert them from candidate to employee. 

While recruiting adtech Product Managers can be a challenging process, our product practice has been successfully engaging with this persona of Product Manager across North America since 2016.

Book your consultation today and learn why companies engage our practice to lead adtech Product Manager searches.