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Under the Hood with Doug Pollack

July 24, 2017

This weeks Under the Hood is with Doug Pollack, Lotame’s GM of TV Products and Innovation, a role that you will come to learn has evolved quite a bit over the years that Doug has spent here. When Doug isn’t talking “all things data” you can probably catch him “jocking” out and playing some ball! 

How long have you been with Lotame? What # employee were you?

I have been with Lotame for over 10 years – since June, 2007! I was employee #7, I believe, and am the 4th longest tenured today, behind Andy (our CEO), JP ( our CTO) and Kevin O’Connor (VP, Software Engineering).

Having been at Lotame so long, do you think the culture has changed over time?

Haha – YES!  The reasons are two-fold.  1. We all got older and more mature – many of us were single and in our 20s when we started and now most are married with kids.  2. We were a very small startup back then where things like processes and job descriptions didn’t really exist.  It was a crazy whirlwind of trying to get as much done as possible.  As we grew and made more money, we became more “corporate.”  I don’t like to use the term, “corporate,” because of the negative connotation, but we have a real org structure and processes, etc.  However, the important parts that everyone loved from the early days have remained and that is a testament to our CEO and founder, Andy Monfried.  We still mix in fun.  Every employee has a say and a direct path to Andy.  And because of that part of the culture, the employees look at Lotame like it’s their company and each other as part of their family.

Why do you keep coming back?

  1. Andy Monfried.  You work with someone this long, you have to either love and respect them or despise them.  Thankfully, my feelings are the former.  I truly respect the man and think the world of him as a person – not even talking about him as a leader and boss (where he is excellent as well).
  2. I’ve been fortunate in my time at Lotame.  I’ve had a major role in every business unit we’ve ever had.  I’ve been able to be at the forefront of every new, innovative thing we’ve done.  When you are lucky enough to have that – where you can constantly look ahead to the next big thing and be one of the creators/founders of building it – you stay as long as you can.  Whether it was our original DMP, ad network, data business, 2nd version of the DMP, or TV business, I’ve been able to be at the forefront – pushing us to the next venture.  This company allows me to constantly challenge myself and be an influential part of all that we do.  None of it is lost on me and I am truly appreciative of it all.

What is your current role and how would you say it has evolved over your time here?

Ha!  My current role is as GM of our TV business unit.  I started off with the ambiguous job of “owning our data.”  I have my Master’s in Statistics and did a lot of data analysis for a division of the Army prior to joining Lotame.  At the time, Lotame was sitting on a ton of data and needed someone to “own it.”  I still am not sure what that meant, but I tried to bring my expertise to the data – to both organize the data and make it more valuable.  That quickly evolved with our business to where we became an ad network and we needed someone to make the data actionable for ad targeting, optimization, and analytics/measurement.  So, my first, true job was to run the Ad Delivery team.  I worked with sales to pitch agencies and respond to RFPs with segments we could target, how many impressions we could run, and how to price it.  I was in charge of making sure the ads delivered per what we sold.  

Additionally, I was in charge of optimizing the campaign to make sure we “performed well” and producing reports detailing the work we’d done.  That job lasted a few years and then we realized that data had value, separate from media.  So, we made a decision to add a data network to our business.  I created and ran that business for a few years.  We then decided to shut down the ad network and go back to licensing our DMP to the public.  I took ownership of organizing the operations for that business as a SaaS business operates very differently from a media business.  I, along with our COO at the time, put together a new org structure, teams, and processes so we could support our new DMP clients.  

Once we established that part of the new business, I moved into a strategy role doing corp and biz dev.  While in that role, I started finding opportunities to sell aspects of our tech that no one had previously sold.  So, that role morphed into a sales role.  I became the #1 salesperson within a year and had interest in staying in that role, but the innovation bug hit me and I latched on to a new venture that I truly believed would skyrocket the company to new heights – TV.  So, I moved into a role where I lead the TV business these days and am extremely excited for what the future holds as we enter this space using our assets and knowledge.  

Is there any “typical day” in your current role?

The days vary based on meetings and focus.  When you are starting a new business unit, no two days are the same, but we are starting to settle into things.  Top of mind for me every day is: 1. Client Support – keeping existing clients happy and making sure they are getting a strong return on their investment, 2. Employees – making sure they are motivated, happy, and getting their work done, 3. Sales – bringing on new clients, 4. Strategy and what’s next, 5. Marketing, and 6. Product and prioritization of everything we have to do.

What did you do before joining Lotame?

I worked for a division of the Army.  One of my Statistics professors had a colleague who was working on some interesting projects there, so I joined the team.  Here is a brief write-up on that, if you want to learn more!

You work closely with our aiTV solution. How do you think this solution sets Lotame apart from our competitors?

Our differentiation revolves around a few items: 1. The combination of the assets we have – the TV viewership firehose (from 8M Smart TVs), the 1B digital IDs we have 3rd party data on, the 40+ branded providers whose data we have tied to those digital IDs, the core DMP where we can collect and ingest 1st party data, and the device graph that ties all of the data together.  2. The data science we layer on – having these assets is only one part of the solution.  We need to continue to add intelligence to the data to make the data more valuable and actionable.  3. Our nimbleness – we work quickly and can attack new projects within a week’s timeframe due to how we structured our team and engineers.  4. Our digital expertise and omni-channel approach – sure, there are others who do similar things in TV… and there are others who do similar things in digital.. But, we have the assets and knowledge to do those things in both worlds, combined.  5. Our vision – we are forward-thinkers… some of us are from the digital space (guilty) and some of us are from the TV space… but, ALL of us are innovators who are constantly asking the tough industry questions and working on the solutions to those questions.

Since you work with so many clients, what is one of the most important things a client looks for in a DMP? How does Lotame differ?

Honestly – I think it is for the salesperson/company to LISTEN to them.  Almost all DMPs have essentially the same tech and features.  One DMP may be stronger with one feature, but the cores are close enough and what clients can get out of them is close enough to the same.  So, as a salesperson, I rely on understanding all of the products and tech we have to offer and do “solution selling” – putting together the most appropriate package to solve the pain points of the client.  If I were to boil down the Lotame differentiators, I would go with 1. Customer service, 2. Flexibility, 3. In-house device graph, 4. Lotame Data Exchange, 5. 100% focus on DMP

Where do you see the AdTech industry (or TV industry) headed in the next 5-10 years?

I see both AdTech and TV industries merging to start.  They will not be separate industries.  After that, I think they will grow and innovate as the technology and content consumption continues to change (wearable technology, IP-delivered TV content, self-driving cars, etc.).  I think AI (artificial intelligence) will become more prominent in the space as well.

Tell us something we don’t already know about you.

I’m very much an open book – maybe to my detriment.  So, I am not sure what others don’t know 😉  I’m just a genuine dude who would classify himself as both jock and nerd whose mind never stops thinking and analyzing.