My Job Is Cooler Than Yours

by: Margaret James

Chances are, even if you've never been to Louisville, you have probably heard about a little get-together we like to call the Kentucky Derby. Attendance for Derby weeks is double that of most Super Bowls. Last year $138 million was wagered on the outcome of this 2 minute race - and that's only the estimate for legally placed bets. In other words: it's kind of a big deal.

What's this have to do with advertising? Glad you asked. Each year 50,000 thoroughbred horses are born in America. Of that number, only 20 will make it to the Derby, leaving 49,980 thoroughbreds to live out their days in let’s-go-ahead-and-call-it obscurity. Now, estimate how many well-funded, meaningful digital ad campaigns are generated each year that are never seen by their intended recipients? Are those numbers feeling like similarly slim odds? In a race, it doesn't matter what money you spend on training or grooming if your horse isn't fast enough to win -- or it never even makes it to the track. Same with a campaign's advertising spend. In both of these scenarios, what distinguishes the winners from the rest of the pack is speed and adaptability.

Keeping in mind the metaphor of horseracing, essentially what we do at El Toro is build robotic horses that can run faster and smarter than any normal horse. We provide something better than excellent training and an experienced jockey, because our robotic horses can programmatically assess how to adapt to track conditions, how good the other horses are, how long the race is, and how much effort to exert in relation to the payout. Our metal ponies know when to hold back, and when to do an all out push. Do you need to run a longer race, and only if the purse is higher than $200k? Our robotic horse is also his own manager: it'll identify only the races you want it to run, tell you about some more that you possibly didn't know about, arrange its own transportation for pennies on the dollar, deliver your ad across the finish line, and immediately head to the next race. Sure, another horse may win against our horse occasionally, but that horse is ALSO being tricked into going to a ton of races that aren't even worth running.

Why the elaborate metaphor? Well, as any developer knows, it's hard to prevent a description of what you do for a living from getting overly technical. Using what you now know, I can say pretty simply: my job as a front-end developer at El Toro is to help you build your perfect horse-bot. I deal primarily with the connective threads between what you see on your screen and the inner workings of our quoting and bidding systems. The code I write gives users the ability to control and modify the ways in which their ad campaigns can be served, and to whom. The interface for our order portal also exposes the ability to monitor and compare performance. AND I get to use a tech stack that is both versatile and powerful to implement all this stuff!

Does my job sound fun? It most definitely is. Does it sound challenging? It is, more often than not. Being a part of the development team at El Toro is a roller coaster in the best sense of the word. Our team is filled by incredibly intelligent people who are passionate and driven, and on a daily basis push the limits of what we know is possible. I am coming up on a year of working here and I actually can't imagine working anywhere else. I mean -- my job is building highly performant robotic horses -- how many people will ever get to say that? With confidence, I can honestly say my job is cooler than yours.