10 intense years for both the industry and Melvin Holman
Let’s have a chat with Melvin Holman, the Chief Business Development Officer of Platform161.
How would you summarize the last 10 years at Platform161?
Melvin: The one word that pops up immediately is “intense”. I have been working in digital since 1999, but the changes and innovation we have seen since 2008, truly have been on another level of intensity. Programmatic, or RTB, did not even exist when I joined this company, and the first iPhone was only just released, viewability was not a thing, and so on. Also keep in mind that my initial days in digital were mostly media and ops related. When joining ClickDistrict (Platform161’s mother company) in 2008, no one knew we would be an advanced technology provider today.
Did you experience that as a huge change, personally?
Melvin: Not really. I started in ad ops, which were way more simple in the days back when I started. However, it did turn out to be the best area to learn the industry from, and it’s one which benefits me today. The delivery chain in 1999 maybe only involved two parties. Now it can be even over ten on a single impression, but knowing the basics, and understanding where this developed from is a big advantage. Being a bit of an amateur website developer in my earlier days also helped me a lot. The way I see it, the biggest evolution or changes were on the execution side and the tools, the marketeer goals remained the same for the most part.
DSPs, or buying platforms are said by some to be a commodity these days. How do you approach that in your day to day work at Platform161?
Melvin: First of all, I don’t agree on the commodity part. At least, not in the way we approach things. As we are not an ‘off the shelf’ product, we can always offer something extra product-wise. However, the real value is always in the total package. To me, it always starts with looking at an existing stack. Identifying both the missing pieces and the unique 1st party tools already available to that particular client are key. Perhaps I’m not saying anything new here when mentioning data, but we definitely offer more on this front than most platforms out there. We did some interesting stuff in this area with one of our clients in the travel industry, where we had to work around data delays and multiple separated sources. If you approach this type of challenge in the right way, there really is a lot to gain in terms of efficiency.
Besides the technical part of what we do, with all the operational skills and experience we have as a team, our consultancy offering has also proven to be very valuable to many clients. Having a great car is one thing, knowing how to drive it the best way is just as important.
With 2019 around the corner, what do you think will be the big thing in 2019?
Melvin: Honestly, every beginning of the new year I write down some topics, only to review them by the end of the year. And I have to confess, I am not the best in making predictions. But if I have to name one thing, my bet would be on OTT and Connected TV. There is a lot happening in TV in general, so I definitely will be keeping a close eye on this. Also, at Platform161, we definitely expect to see outdoor/OOH continue on its upwards trajectory.
What I really would like to look into more would be workflow optimization. Maybe it’s not the most obviously exciting part of the business, but looking at how ops people still struggle, I still think there is still more we can do there from a product perspective. Again, I used to be an ops guy, so this will always be a thing for me.