Position Spotlight: Marketing Tech Engineer
Damien Palacio, Senior Engineer, shares what it's like to work on the Marketing Tech team and how his role has changed over time.
Can you please introduce yourself?
I’m Damien. I started working for GetYourGuide in our Zurich office a little over 2 years ago. I’m originally from France, but have been living in Zurich for 6 years.
Can you please give us a brief summary of what your job entails?
I am a Marketing Tech Engineer working under the umbrella of Performance Marketing. I work on dedicated systems that handle our ads on various search engines.
In Marketing Tech, we need to be sure everything is running daily and take action if it isn’t. The jobs we work on are long-running and they produce data at a specific time of day; this is contrary to the way most GYG systems work. We are also responsible for improving performance since the size of the data is continuously increasing. Finally, we explore/experiment with new approaches or channels.
As a Senior Engineer and Tech Lead of Marketing Tech overall, I also work closely with Product Managers on priorities, their roadmaps, and the feasibility of upcoming projects.
What does an average day as a Marketing Tech Engineer look like?
We start the day with a standup, where we discuss the day’s priorities and any leftover priorities from the previous day(s). Then, we investigate and, if needed, fix anything that happened during the night jobs. Afterwards, we either get to work on the next task from the sprint or continue a task started previously. Since we are actively hiring for the engineering team, most of the engineers also participate in interviews. On top of these tasks, we have a few regular meetings like sprint planning, retros, backlog grooming, and ideation sessions.
How has your role changed since joining GetYourGuide?
When I initially joined GetYourGuide, I was responsible for the core system behind our website on our Platform team. About 3 months later, I joined the Performance Marketing Mission in Marketing Tech, which at the time only had one engineer. I joined to help build a system to automatically handle our ads. The placement was supposed to be temporary, but once it was completed, we realized there was still a lot of potential. So, I’ve been working in Marketing Tech since then.
Over time, the Performance Marketing team grew, and now there are three different missions teams:
Targeting - their mission is to capture the best customer intent on performance marketing channels through optimal targeting
Bidding - their mission is to drive growth by efficient and automated bidding on performance marketing channels
Ads - their mission is to increase the acquisition of customers at scale by providing them with relevant, accurate & engaging content through ads.
I was part of the Targeting Mission Team for 6 months before joining the Bidding team. Then, 8 months ago, I was invited to coordinate the main Marketing Tech projects across the three mission teams.
In this new role, I have been more involved with planning and technical decisions. Throughout my time at GetYourGuide, I have consistently been given the opportunity to take on more responsibilities and solve complicated problems.
How would you describe the team’s working style and dynamic?
Like most mission teams at GetYourGuide, ours is a cross-functional team. The team is made up of a product manager, engineers, marketing specialists, and data analysts. It’s very interesting to work on this kind of team because everyone has different viewpoints and knowledge of the domain.
What is the most challenging aspect of your role?
Scalability is one of our main challenges. Some of our systems or processes became outdated more quickly than expected because the amount of data we were processing increased really significantly in just a few months. Dependency is the second main challenge. We have a lot of external dependencies (e.g. AdWords) which have their own limitations or unexpected issues we need to deal with frequently, as well as issues between our own systems or data produced by other teams.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your role?
We work on systems/process which are vital for the whole company, so a small change we implement can have a very big impact. For example, if we look at optimization, we were able to replace jobs running for more than 1 day with jobs done in just a few minutes. You usually don’t have the opportunity to see such amazing results, but it has happened several times in our team.
Since we work with ever-growing data, we also get to use the most recent technologies and tools (e.g. Spark, Airflow), and we need to be constantly learning.
We also aim to automate as many processes as possible or provide tooling, so other team members can spend more time doing analysis or exploration once we’ve identified recurrent patterns.
What advice would you have for someone who would like to work on the Marketing Tech team at GetYourGuide?
Learning is a core value at GYG and applies a lot to our team. You should enjoy working on challenging tasks and coming up with innovative or smart ways to go around limitations or issues you encounter. Your mission team doesn’t only consist of engineers, so you will need to be able to explain/describe certain concepts without too much technical detail and support your team on a daily basis.
What is your favorite thing about working at GetYourGuide?
I like the mind of continuous improvement. Feedback is always encouraged and welcomed. I also really like the positivity and team bonding that happens when something has gone awry and we need to handle the situation.
For example, when something breaks or goes wrong, we all work together to determine how we deal with the problem in the moment, how we avoid it happening again, how we mitigate the impact, and how we clean afterwards.
Anything you’d like to add?
I should also mention that the Marketing Tech team is divided between our engineering hub in Zurich and our headquarters in Berlin. So, we communicate a lot through Slack and video-conference. Since we usually work on independent tasks, it works for us. With that said, we still travel regularly for team focus days, team events, or trainings. It’s nice to spend some time together, outside of the usual meetings, having lunch or drinks.