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
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
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
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
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.’