Introducing Patrick Dolan, Alfi’s Newest Board Member

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In joining Alfi’s board of directors, Patrick Dolan adds a wealth of valuable industry experience and knowledge. His unique background and insight will help guide Alfi in its newest and most exciting phase yet.

“We are excited to welcome Patrick and Allen to our board of directors as we continue our journey of delivering a more dynamic platform and experience for the digital out-of-home industry, advertisers, and consumers alike. They bring decades of leadership in key areas, such as advertising, finance, strategy implementation, and technology development, that are vital to our future operations and growth strategy,” said Peter Bordes, Interim CEO, and Board Member.

“We’re confident that they will be outstanding independent directors, bringing relevant experience and perspectives in areas essential to our business and governance and making the interests of our shareholders and stakeholders a priority as we further advance our vision of combining artificial intelligence and edge computing together to create the next generation digital-out-of-home advertising platform,” continued Bordes.

Explore our exclusive Q&A session below with new board member Dolan. 

For 13 years from September 2007 to January 2021, Dolan served within a variety of pivotal roles at the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) – the leading global trade association for the digital marketing and media industry. The IAB is responsible for developing industry standards, conducting research, and providing industry representation in Washington, D.C. 

Dolan joined the IAB in 2007 as its Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. He was subsequently promoted to IAB’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, and in 2017 was named President of the association. 

During his time at IAB, Dolan founded the Data Council and Data Center of Excellence, co-founded its Video and Mobile Centers of Excellence, and acted as a founding executive board member of the IAB Tech Lab. He contributed to the expansion of the Digital Content NewFronts – the world’s largest digital content marketplace – and established the IAB Podcast Upfronts and IAB’s Digital Sales Certification Program. 

Before joining the IAB, Dolan held leadership roles at the advertising technology company DoubleClick (later acquired by Google), and Hearst/Cisneros joint venture cable channel, Locomotion. Dolan was responsible for the channel’s successful spin-off – which aired in 15 countries – and its sale to Sony. 

During his time at DoubleClick, Dolan established the company’s international headquarters in Dublin and integrated Oracle Financials into the Dynamic Advertising, Reporting, and Targeting (DART) digital ad serving platform.  He also participated in pioneering work on behavioral retargeting, developing digital marketing segments based on clickstream data and other data-driven behavioral advertising products.  

Mr. Dolan received his BA in Economics from the University of Virginia and his MBA from Virginia Commonwealth University. Currently, Dolan sits on Alfi’s board and provides advising and consulting services. 

Getting to know Patrick Dolan

We got the chance to sit down with Dolan and talk about the kind of future he envisions for digital out-of-home advertising and Alfi. 

Knowing what you know today, what are three things you would tell your younger self about your career?

That’s a great question. I would say to take chances. These are all kinds of iterations of the same idea but take chances. Take risks. Pursue what you like to do because you’re going to spend a lot of time doing it.

I would also tell my younger self to look into investing in Google. Or Apple! 

But more importantly, I think to look at where the future is going. Look at the new technologies and the new ways of doing business, along with the new media. That is what I did, and it worked out alright. 

Tell us more about your experiences working at DoubleClick. 

I was there very early on when DoubleClick was barely a year old. It was an exhilarating time, and the company grew quickly. Four years later, we had peaked at about 2,500 employees by the time I left. 

I got to do a lot of very interesting and varied things. I worked in the international finance part of the business. I set up their headquarters in Dublin. I built some early technology for billing, creating dashboards for the available data. 

I was in the engineering department to integrate Oracle financials into the DART system for a short time. While I was doing that, I was on a team that built a version of AdSense for AltaVista before Google did. We ran it for about a month and shut it down. That’s a whole other story.

Then I started working with Abacus, a data company that DoubleClick bought, which became the core of its data efforts. We developed technology that was basically the foundation of all programmatic advertising. It was interest-based, data-driven advertising, using retargeting technology and data to create meaningful advertising. They were the key elements of what became programmatic. We were just a couple of years earlier than that whole phenomenon. 

So, it was a great four years. I learned a lot, and I was involved in many other parts of the business, including M&A activity. I was also on the team that integrated @plan, a research business, into a new line of business for DoubleClick. It was great.

How do you feel about Alfi?

I’m excited about Alfi. When I heard about what they did, I thought this is a really smart idea. I’m very interested in AI. I feel that if you can put some intelligence into a screen based on the characteristics of the person in front of it, without being invasive, in terms of privacy, it could be a great way to interact with them, provide more meaningful messages, and create a better experience. 

A good user experience is an important component of creating media and informing people about whatever it happens to be that you want to inform them about – a political message, an ad for a product or service, PSA, or a non-profit. 

I’m excited to be part of the team, learn more about the company and its technology, and see where it goes. I hope to make it go far.

Let’s go back to your time with the Interactive Advertising Bureau. How do you think that experience prepared you for this new chapter at Alfi?

Since the IAB represents the digital media and marketing industry, my experience there gave me a very good understanding of the whole ecosystem, its interconnectedness of the digital advertising supply chain how the supply chain delivers messages on digital advertising platforms. Understanding where Alfi is now, where it could be in the future, and how it can integrate into the larger digital media ecosystem is important in helping Alfi grow.

How do you feel about privacy concerns going on in the entire advertising industry right now?

There needs to be a federal law because, currently, there is a patchwork of different rules and requirements. This fragmented landscape costs money and creates headaches for people trying to do business in these different states. So there needs to be a federal law to unify the rules. 

Privacy must be protected, regulation is essential, but there needs to be a framework for companies to operate without being too restricted and stifling innovation. 

I think that legislators aren’t the best technologists, so it’s important to include some form of self-regulation and create safe harbors. While I was at the IAB, we established the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) and its Your Ad Choices program in conjunction with the other major industry trade groups.  The DAA is a self-regulatory program with rules that companies agree to abide by (the safe harbor), and then if you are out of compliance, there are enforcement and penalties.  Elements of a program like the DAA and its Ad Choices program should be considered when crafting federal legislation. 

Where do you see digital out-of-home advertising in 5 years?

I think it’s going to be everywhere. I think it’s making its way from Billboards and taxis and Ubers into other retail spaces. 

So stores – instead of having placards and static signage – will have digital displays that are going to be much more dynamic. This is where Alfi has an exciting opportunity to power those screens. 

Outdoors and more spaces in the city are going to be more informative and provide utility.  There will be a nice balance between information, advertising, and other types of messages. 

You’re starting to see that in New York. There’s a whole new set of digital displays in the subways that are very informative. They provide a lot of utility with the weather, train arrival times, local attractions but also advertising messages, I see more of that. I also think autonomous vehicles will become a reality, and there will be more opportunities to have displays featured in them as well. 

Are you saying that we’re definitely headed towards a planet that looks like Blade Runner or Minority Report?

I love Blade Runner, by the way, if you want to put it in those terms. It’s a great movie, but they make it look sinister, and I think it would be a little more delightful in reality and a lot more useful. 

I think you’re going to have more interaction with these digital screens. You will be able to interact with them.  If you don’t feel like you want to get messages, maybe you can dark them out or just say, I don’t want to see that type of message. Or change what I’m seeing. I think there will be more interactions with the screens, as well. You’ll be able to tell the screen: Show me buttercups and daisies – or classic art; they need to provide utility, surprise, and delight, or people will reject them.

Advertising and messages can be part of the experience, but it does not have to be all of it, and it shouldn’t be all of it. 

Where do you see Alfi fit into the future of DOOH in five years? 

I think Alfi is on the path of realizing that sort of future that I just laid out there. 

Their software powers more screens, and there are bold new ways to interact with these screens. I think now you’re seeing that it can determine some characteristics on who is in front of it, informing the content they’re seeing. That is just the beginning. I am sure that Alfi will build more features into their technology. 

You’re going to see a lot more of this idea of interacting with screens – telling it what you like and what you don’t like – which will create the opportunity for much better experiences. 

Alfi is thrilled to have Patrick Dolan joining its ranks. We look forward to seeing all that this partnership will yield. Connect with Patrick on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram.

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