Meet Jonathan Harrop, our Vice President of Global Marketing & Communications working remotely from his office in Dallas, Texas! Besides leading our marketing teams and messaging, Jonathan loves to paint and play Warhammer 40,000 28mm tabletop model wargame. He also loves to spend time with his new rescue dog, Kirby. In this post, Jonathan shares his secret BBQ recipe, journey to AdColony, and favorite mobile games. Get to know him better in this week’s AdColonized employee spotlight!
What exactly does a Vice President of Global Marketing and Communications do at AdColony? What’s an average day like for you?
I manage how AdColony is seen by the rest of the industry and lead our global marketing and PR efforts, and everything that encompasses. Fortunately, I have an amazing team with outstanding skills dedicated to certain parts of the marketing and communications strategy.
I spend a lot of time on calls with vendors and partners, as well as looking at our global budget. Sometimes I write press releases, occasionally I do blog posts, and hop in to help my team on whatever it is they might need a second eye on. I also manage our bylines and perspectives, making sure our thought leadership is front and center across industry publications and being “spoken” by the right person on our team. Thankfully, I also have the amazing team at Blast Communications to help with talking to reporters as well.
Tell us a little about your experiences prior to joining AdColony and how they have prepared you for your role here.
I graduated in 2008. I had a BA in Journalism, and if you think there are few journalism jobs to come by today, there were even fewer in 2008. There were fewer jobs in general. It was not a great time to be a college graduate.
I spent some time at Apple retail, where I learned what I might call some of my core values — if you’ve never worked retail, you’re missing out on a huge learning experience and some basic skills about dealing with new people that are hard to develop elsewhere. Some of the stuff from there (including stuff like “fearless feedback”) has helped me continuously throughout my career. I also spent time doing enterprise sales for Apple corporate, and then moved to GameStop, where I managed their PC Downloads community, and the GS mobile app and affiliate app install campaigns for the mobile arms of traditional video game publishers, including many we work with now at AdColony like EA Mobile, 2K Mobile, and some of the newer (at the time) mobile publishers like Kabam and Zynga.
I actually joined AdColony as part of an acquisition by Opera (now Otello) of the startup I was at, Yvolver, which was focused on the engagement and retention side of the mobile app business. That was in late 2015 and… well here I am.
What makes AdColony the right fit for you?
Mobile adtech and mobile gaming are two very niche corners of larger markets, and working at the intersection of the two has stimulated my brain for five plus years now. There’s always something new to learn and opportunities to grow with new challenges. Plus I get to work with an amazing team of talented content writers, event planners, and B2B marketers from around the world, on top of the incredibly smart people we have doing engineering, strategy, sales, and beyond.
AdColony values employee development. How do you keep growing and learning in what you do?
When I joined AdColony, I was sort of a mid-level marketing manager. I’m always one for a new challenge, which led from new opportunities to newer opportunities, which was recognized by AdColony’s leadership and let me grow into my current role leading global marketing and communications.
Asking questions and continually absorbing parts of the business not directly related to my own has made a lot of those challenges much easier. Instead of starting from scratch building a deck for publishing or brand sales, I have asked enough questions that save time, instead of just getting started.
How do you act as a resource for the rest of your team?
Most importantly, I try and make sure everyone has access to the same quality of work/life balance that I give myself. Sometimes that means I’m the one finishing a deck or getting my hands dirty in Photoshop, but I’m a big fan of walking the walk. I’m also very loquacious at the outset of a project, trust everyone’s own judgment, but also make myself available for questions or second-looks virtually any time, and that doesn’t just extend to my immediate team.
In “the before times,” I made sure to visit everyone as often as I could, even though I’m a remote employee in Dallas. Nowadays that takes the form of more regular Zoom calls, and sometimes some Zoom happy hours and lunches.
Is there someone you turn to personally or professionally?
I’m very lucky to have a really diverse group of peers and coworkers who are open and can discuss ideas and be honest with each other.
Many global AdColony employees are still working from home. Do you have any work-from-home tips for success you can share?
Take breaks and separate your work area from the other stuff you do at home if you can. Being able to step away and maintain a healthy work/life balance is key to life overall. I’ve actually been working from home since 2017, and creating that “work bubble” has been incredibly important in letting me succeed long term. Responding to Slack threads on a phone is one thing. Sitting down and doing work non-stop is another.
Also, get a dog! If I can soapbox a bit, make it a rescue — they need love too, and you get a much shorter potty-training period.
What are your hobbies or activities that you look forward to doing on the weekends or after work?
My wife and I adopted a rescue dog named Kirby about mid-way through 2020, who has radically altered how we spend our spare time. Walks, park trips, playing with him (when he’s not being shy or lazy), and so forth break up my old leisure activities a lot!
I also paint and used to (before COVID) play Warhammer 40,000 28mm tabletop model wargame. I’ve been playing and painting since 1995, so there’s a lot of catharsis in it for me in the painting, even though the models are only usually an inch to two high. It’s a wonderful way to unwind.
My wife and I play a lot of Overwatch together, and I play a fair amount of Destiny as well. As a casual game, I’ve been doing a lot of base building in No Man’s Sky lately too.
I’m also, in non-nerdy pursuits, an extremely avid griller and have been perfecting both a brisket rub recipe (the secret is a dash of cinnamon!) and the cooking of the brisket itself. I’m also a pro at steak. I use a Kamado Joe III grill with real wood charcoal and real wood for smoking.
Which app is keeping you engaged lately? Why?
Among Us has been a nice distraction for a while, but my phone’s apps mostly complement my other “free time” activities, Destiny 2 and Ishtar Commander, the Warhammer 40K app, along with the excellent free-to-play 40K game Freeblade by Pixel Toys and PvP Combat Cards by Flaregames, make up for the fact that I couldn’t actually play against live humans for the past year or so.
My mother and aunt would kill me if I stopped playing Zynga’s Words with Friends against them. I actually sold the first Macs to the NewToy (whom Zynga later acquired) back when they started as a company and I was working for Apple, so my relationship with that app goes way, way back.
My number one app according to screen time is Apollo for Reddit though, by a wide margin. Made by one guy, it continues to blow the official app out of the water.
Tell us one or two fun facts about you.
I’m very good at finding deals using (and on) the Internet. Like, scarily good. I once got a brand new TV for half price by looking and shopping around, combining sale prices and open box deals and in-store availability. In fact, it was just this past November!
My name actually appears in the credits for one of the official Warhammer 40,000 Codexes (source rule book)! It’s a nice little “hobby peak” from back in the days before everything was online and everyone had their own podcast.
What is your favorite moment you’ve had with the AdColony team so far?
The AdColony Supernova events in 2018 and 2019 were spectacular and amazing events. While they’re ostensibly for our clients, bringing together publishing and UA teams from around the world in unique destinations (Snoqualmie, WA and Sonoma, CA respectively) means time to catch up and relax with people I don’t see very often. There’s still the sessions and panels we host (not recorded, all very “behind closed doors” to let people really talk with their peers about how things really are in the industry), but the personal feeling of connecting is always amazing.
We made the call to cancel Supernova 2020 pretty early on. It was going to be in Barcelona and we had some amazing activities planned, but well, 2020 got in the way. I have my fingers crossed for something in the second half of 2021 though! Most of all I’m just excited to see my team and coworkers again soon.
What are you listening to lately (music, podcasts, etc.)?
I’m a Podcast enthusiast and have been since we had to download them to an iPod via iTunes! I dip in and out to a few politics and true crime podcasts for specific topics here and there (In The Dark, S-Town, Embedded, Missing in Alaska, Friendly Fire, Serial, More Perfect) but the stalwarts are and remain Stuff You Should Know, This American Life, Radiolab, and 99% Invisible. I listen to those four more or less religiously.
What are you looking forward to most in the next 5 years?
I’m looking forward to more brands and agencies getting on board with mobile gaming and gaming as a whole as a channel worth pursuing for advertising of all stripes. Esports is ripe for brands to come in and almost own the space, but on the other side of that coin, most streaming platforms and Twitch overlays don’t have the programmatic pipes built that brand buyers want to buy through right now. Seeing those two worlds come together in a bigger way than we’re already seeing will be marvelous.
I’m also finally excited for Apple to put a fingerprint sensor back on the phone somewhere. I’m also really excited about the Taika Waititi Star Wars movie.
I’m really excited to get back to traveling one day. On top of the amazing offices and people at AdColony I visit throughout a non-2020 year, my wife and I capped off 2019 with a wonderful 3 weeks in Myanmar, Hong Kong, and a couple of days in Japan.
Jonathan is highly active across social media, and always open to connecting with other professionals across the industry. You can follow his travel (next year, hopefully), painting, and Kirby on Instagram at jonathanpostspics, see his mostly unfiltered thoughts (that definitely don’t represent the views of AdColony or Otello) on Twitter @harropj, and connect on LinkedIn.
Each AdColonized feature shines a light on a different member of the AdColony team. From favorite apps and hobbies to fun facts, we cover it all! Who do you want to see on the next AdColonized? Tweet it to @AdColony. For the latest AdColony mobile news and updates, follow @AdColony on Twitter, like us on Facebook, or connect on LinkedIn.