Opinion: Question Time With ... Richard Holman - Adlink’s UK chief went into the net following a tennis match

Richard Holman does not mince his words; unfortunately, most of them are libellous. Within minutes of settling down for a cuppa, the Adlink UK managing director announces that the levels of service offered by the US-based internet advertising trio DoubleClick, Real Media and 24/7 are - how shall I put it? - not quite up to scratch.

Richard Holman does not mince his words; unfortunately, most of

them are libellous. Within minutes of settling down for a cuppa, the

Adlink UK managing director announces that the levels of service offered

by the US-based internet advertising trio DoubleClick, Real Media and

24/7 are - how shall I put it? - not quite up to scratch.



DoubleClick, he says, has diversified too far into other areas of online

advertising, such as selling Dart - its web advertising tool - and

should focus purely on ad sales, as his company does.



He also takes a pop at 24/7, whose public relations department is good

at ’creating the perception of size ... but actually there are only two

people in some of their offices’.



Why the cockiness? Holman’s web ad sales house New Media Marketing and

Sales (NMMS) - a mere minnow with a sales force of six - has just been

bought by Adlink and he’s feeling pretty chuffed about it.



OK, so Adlink is not a household name here in the UK. However, the

German-based online sales company has been tiptoeing up behind its US

rivals and is about to jump out and scare the pants off them. Adlink has

offices in nine countries and will open shops in the US, Far East and

Eastern Europe by the end of the year (although only to sell local

advertisers the European network).



Adlink boasts an enviable client list - which includes Wall Street

Online, Yahoo! and France’s biggest ISP Free.ft - and will float on the

German stock market later this year. This will add an extra sweetener to

the deal for Holman, who will be able to ditch his scooter for a

Ducati.



NMMS will now trade as Adlink and becomes the network’s UK headquarters,

operating from swanky new offices on the Strand.



NMMS used to limit itself to UK sports websites (Planet Rugby, Golf

Today, Talk Sport and the Sports Internet Group).



Now, with the backing of Adlink, the sky’s the limit - it is courting

clients in the business, finance, women’s, student and entertainment ISP

sectors. Holman plans to expand NMMS’s staff to 22 by the end of the

year.



He is looking for a sales director to head the UK and an international

sales manager to sell pan-European campaigns.



The fresh-faced 37-year-old (no Richard, I won’t write 33) has been

overseeing NMMS’s sales himself, since helping set up the company three

years ago, but he explains: ’The business is getting too big for me

now.’



Hampshire-bred Holman has his roots in magazine advertising sales. He

started out as ’the office toy boy’ in the female-dominated advertising

department of She. He moved to a now defunct contract publisher called

Maxwell, before turning up at BBC Magazines, where he rose to the post

of publisher of Homes & Antiques.



The switch to dotcom selling came about through a chance meeting with

Neil Morgan - NMMS’s founder and managing director of his own online

contract publishing company called e-space - while Holman and his wife

were on holiday in Greece.



’Neil asked me if I fancied a game of tennis, so we played and I beat

him,’ Holman recalls with a smirk. ’He told me he had an idea about

launching an internet advertising company and asked me if I would like

to run it.’ It was possibly one of the best decisions Holman has ever

made.



Holman on service



’I know from what my agency contacts tell me that levels of service from

online sales companies are very poor. Adlink isn’t just interested in

accumulating a large portfolio - we want to find quality sites and to

concentrate on them.’



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1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).