Q&A: 201 Connected Media’s Wouter Hulst on the Future of Self-Service in the Media Industry

5 min readJul 6, 2020


Self-service continues to be a buzzword across the media industry and given the recent advertising industry shifts, it is clear that self-service and ad-buying platforms, which allow media buyers to have their own bidding tools and manage their own data in-house, will play an important role in the future of the industry.

As media buyers call for an increase in transparency, advertising technologies seem to be moving toward a self-service model for media spending. We spoke with Wouter Hulst from 201 Connected Media, an ADvendio implementation partner, specializing in digital media architecture, helping companies to navigate the digital landscape while building and achieving a sustainable business for their clients including bol.com, Zalando, Ahold, RTL, Prisa, eBay, Sanoma and many more, on the future of self-service advertising platforms for the media industry.

Wouter Hulst Media Expertise

Wouter has a wealth of media expertise as he has been active in the industry for more than 15 years. Having launched 201 Connected Media in 2010, his expertise spans across digital media strategy, business intelligence, audience management, privacy compliance, and go-to-market strategies.

What is Self-Service Advertising?

How would you define what a self-serve advertising platform is?

The core principle of self-service allows both customers and clients to access the same information and processes that internal sales teams have access to. By doing so and not restricting access this can help clients and customers to make better informed and data-driven decisions regarding their advertising campaigns. For example, having access to all information can save time and effort by eliminating the back and forth communications between sales reps and clients. Self-service is ultimately opening up your sales & service functions to your end customers.

What is the difference between self-serve and programmatic advertising?

Programmatic advertising incorporates all aspects of media but is most utilized in digital advertising, in particular digital video advertising. Despite its growth over the past number of years, not all inventory is available programmatically with limited options for special deals and therefore standard buying tools or dashboards are not integrated by default to cover all the media buying services that publishers & broadcasters offer.

Self-service on the other hand is a medium to buy all various types of advertising media incorporating both programmatic & traditional media channels.

Why do you think there has been an increased demand for self-serve platforms in the advertising industry?

In my opinion, there has been an increased demand for self-serve platforms as media sales organizations have become more efficient in streamlining their internal processes over the last number of years. Once these processes are streamlined, a self-service platform option becomes a viable solution for their organizations.

It is important that you improve and streamline the processes that you have full control over before you try to improve processes that rely on the actions of others. The demand for self-service platforms is also increasing for two distinct reasons:

Firstly, the insourcing of media buying means using many new tools for advertisers as staff have to manage their own advertising & media buying tasks rather than having agencies manage this for them, and secondly, programmatic advertising drives demand for buying all media online through self-service.

Are self-service platforms good for businesses of all sizes such as SMEs, B2B Enterprises, large corporations?

In my opinion, self-service portals work for businesses of all levels and sizes, however, it should be considered that advertisers often work with a large number of publishers & broadcasters at any one time. Advertisers will not always have the time to log into 15+ different self-serve portals to manage various campaigns.

This means for smaller niche providers getting buy-in and adoption from advertisers may be more difficult due to their size, but the larger you are the greater the chance that advertisers will embrace the ability to manage their own business with you.

This ultimately varies from market to market, for example, if you are a retailer and you want to service your brands you will be large enough to drive that change in process, but if you are a small niche site with general content, changes for you may be too small and this and you may face resistance.

Therefore, I would say that size does matter and if you are not large enough, cooperate with others in order to create scale.

Benefits of Self-Service Platforms For The Media Industry

In your opinion, what are the main benefits of self-service for advertising clients?

The main benefit for advertising clients to self-serve would be the opportunity to gain direct insights into activities and performance on their campaigns. Implemented correctly this will also simplify the communications between seller and buyer if they are also included in the operational processes such as creative uploads, changes, invoices, etc. Therefore the focus should be on the service and then commerce, as only having self-service to allow clients to order online without the service aspect is a small benefit.

What advice would you provide to media buyers looking to enable a self-serve advertising platform?

First ensure your internal processes work, then open them up externally. Focus on client benefits and not only to lower your cost of sales.

Are there any limitations of self-serve platforms for advertisers, publishers, or agencies?

Although customization possibilities of self-service portals are endless, because of this ability there is also the possibility that some difficulties may arise with processes that may need to be fixed, updated, or altered.

Therefore it is important that you are aware of this as it can prove to be a huge benefit to have this knowledge within your team if an issue arises in order to save time and money if working with external third party consultants.

What are the most important features or functionality that media advertisers should be looking for when choosing a self-service advertising portal?

When organizations are looking to choose a self-serve advertising portal, I believe they should look for the following features and functionalities:

  • Material management & uploads
  • Real-time performance insights
  • Streamlined communications between clients & advertising operations
  • Insights on to what service are available
  • Report & Dashboards of annual investments, invoices, and campaigns

The Future of Self-Serve Ad Platforms

What are your predictions for self-service advertising platforms in the media industry?

With advertisers wanting to get control and insights into their advertising spend, a trend over the past 5 years, it is something that has taken some time to develop and for organizations to adapt to this concept. That being said, I would expect that although adoption rates are slow, in the next 2–3 years all major media sales organizations will have their own branded self-service platforms available.

Originally published at www.advendio.com on July 01, 2020




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