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How to Build a Platform

When I was a kid, I spent a good deal of my time building a tree house. I collected all of the scrap material from around the neighborhood, brought it to my tree, and nailed it in place. I didn’t have a plan, but I had a grand vision, and that vision drove me to collect more pieces of scrap regardless of how they fit or didn’t fit into the structure. Eventually the tree house was more reflective of the scraps I had collected than of the original vision. I had a grand time in that tree house, but I don’t think it qualified as a dwelling. It wasn’t very safe, and I had to constantly patch it back together as the poorly fitted joints and connections failed. Of course, that is the point of a tree house. It is a pastime. The constant need for maintenance and complete lack of utility are part of the charm. Not so with a media platform.

I am reminded of my tree house when I read that so-and-so holding company has made another acquisition that “further extends their platform.” Those kinds of platforms are not the ones I want to base my business on. When a platform is built of odd features and capabilities collected from the neighborhood, it can’t be stable and probably isn’t very functional. Think of the integration effort that would be needed to truly create a unified platform from disparate architectures and overlapping functionality. When I envision a platform on which I would want to base my business, I see stability, a uniform floor with tightly integrated connections. A good platform is something that was designed as a unit by an engineer from the ground up. It should support whatever is going to be built on it with a minimum of maintenance and adjustment.

When superimposed on Demand Side Platforms, these criteria are manifested in data feeds that integrate directly into a purpose built data warehouse. That data warehouse integrates directly into a set of algorithms. Those algorithms are custom built to operate as a unit with the interactive and dynamic ads that generate the raw response data. It all has to fit together and work as a unit.  A shaky platform won't deliver results and disaster won't be far away, but a good platform can be the basis of remarkable advertising results and a great business.

Bill is a product and marketing executive with experience marketing products and delivering marketing products. Bill started his marketing career managing data mining products at Oracle. He followed the progression of addressable advertising by...

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