1. What Lisa Wilkinson’s departure means for junior women in media

    October 17, 2017 by admin

    Lisa Wilkinson’s departure from The Today Show has sent a tremor through the nation. Both her co-hosts and viewers were shocked to see her depart so abruptly, and the alleged reason why is nothing short of jaw dropping.

    It’s hard enough being a small fry in the ‘man’s world’ that is media, but this puts it in a whole new light.

    Nine has stormed the ratings this year with The Block and Ninja Warrior, along with recently announcing they’re bringing Love Island Down Under, so it’s safe to say they’re not short of a bob of two. This begs the question: why is one of Australia’s leading journalists at one of Australia’s leading networks still fighting for equal pay?

    Though I could ramble on about what total bullshit all of the above is, I think there’s a deeper issue here. As a young female in the industry with just about a year under my belt, Nine’s inability to “meet the expectation of Lisa Wilkinson and her manager on a contract renewal for a further period” says we still have a long way to go. And that’s terrifying.

    While I’m not privy to her contract with Nine or Stefanovic’s JD, the situation in general paints a bleak outlook for juniors entering the industry. It’s 2017, not 1918, or even 1957 for that matter. I know we’re one of the last countries in the world to take action on marriage equality (don’t even get me started), but surely we’re not this backwards?

    A quick look at Lisa’s impressive resume reveals an extraordinary list of accolades, including editor of Dolly at the age of 21 before becoming international editor-in-chief of Cleo.

    At 21 I was still navigating my way through uni, let alone editing a national magazine, so if someone as accomplished as Lisa has to negotiate the same pay as her equally-as-accomplished male co-host instead of just being offered it, what chance have the rest of us got?

    In saying this, I’m not trying to belittle my skills, or those of my peers. I’m confident in my ability to do a cracking job when I turn up to work every day, and am sure all other juniors in the industry have the same attitude.

    Wilkinson during her days as editor of CLEO magazine

    I’m simply pointing out that if someone with Lisa’s credentials is unable to come to an agreement about pay with her employer, the bottom of the ladder is a daunting place to be.

    Australia’s leading networks need to remember the next Lisa Wilkinson has to come from somewhere, and a situation such as this doesn’t do much to inspire the future generation of media folk.

    The top is arguably the best place to be when it comes to making a stand on equal pay, and while I’m not in a position to change things, I hope someone who is can help paint a more positive picture for our future.

    This article originally appeared on Mumbrella.

  2. Slick, cookie-cutter digital customer experience fails to differentiate brands

    September 30, 2017 by admin


    The last thing any marketer wants is for their brand to look and feel just like the competitor. However, our industry’s current focus on streamlining customer experience via tech platforms risks exactly that.

    The scramble for next generation customer experiences (CX) has agencies, consultancies and marketers making brand interactions more intuitive. Innovating to find more efficiency is an important part of refining customer experiences, but it offers no competitive advantage if everyone else follows a category-generic playbook.

    Brands using technology as their differentiator run the risk of creating generic interfaces and experiences. We’ve all heard about the out-of-the-box solutions that vendors promise will fix everything. Smooth and integrated customer experiences might create satisfied punters, but this is only half the battle. Brands looking for proper ROI need to consider emotional motivators when devising strategies to win and retain high-value customers.

    When you hear about companies setting up a ‘design thinking team’ or ‘an innovation team’, you have to wonder what the strategic objective is. Are they just there to make platforms and processes better? Or are they driving at something deeper? I tend to worry there’s a lot of, ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ afoot – innovation towards greater CX efficiency, without overarching emotional purpose or vision that knits the experience together.

    Modern CX requires customer intelligence around emotion, psychology and context to add competitive value. Building great big platforms around guesswork or the business capability, rather than the customer, would be repeating past behaviour.

    Next-generation CX is about knowing who the customer will be, not who the business wants them to be. Foresight is more valuable than insight, because it forever pulls CX back to the customer’s motivations and behaviours, forcing brands to stop thinking about themselves.

    When creating quality customer experiences, emotional motivators offer a guiding objective that can be threaded through each touch point along the customer journey. A 2016 study from Harvard Business Review found consumers exhibit around 40 emotional motivators across most brand interactions (with varying intensity). In no particular order, the most prevalent include desire for ‘a sense of belonging, ‘to succeed in life’, ‘to feel secure’ ‘to have a sense of freedom’ and ‘to have confidence in the future’.

    The study also goes on to explain that brand relationships transition through four stages: (1) being unconnected (2) being highly satisfied (3) perceiving brand differentiation (4) being fully connected. At ‘fully connected’, the customer feels a meaningful relationship with the brand through one or more key emotional motivators, like the ones listed above. Through extensive research and case study analysis, Harvard Business Review concluded customers in this category are twice as valuable to the brand as ‘highly satisfied customers’ over the lifetime of the relationship.

    Furthermore, moving a customer from the ‘highly satisfied’ category to ‘fully connected’ is three times more valuable than moving them from ‘unconnected’ to ‘highly satisfied’. Fully connected customers spend more, are less price sensitive, pay more attention to brand comms, and are much more likely to recommend the brand to others.

    Importantly, the research shows that while slick platforms might keep a customer satisfied, that customer’s value stagnates unless they feel a deeper connection to the brand.

    The value of pushing for enhanced emotional connection is huge. The industry’s current focus on innovation and efficiency risks overlooking that value, and creating a world where brands offer a seamless experience but not a differentiated one.

    Focussing on emotion enables the ability to deliver CX that impacts a person’s heuristics (how they make intuitive, simple decisions). It’s accepted that heuristics inform habits and bed down patterns of behaviour to create a cumulative advantage for businesses. Sustained differentiation is good for business.

    Today’s digital experiences have core features that customers have come to expect, like intelligent recommendations, online self-service or chatbots and predictive search terms. As brands rush to bring themselves into line with those expectations, everyone is pretty much working from the same formula – make it simple and clean. Sooner or later, we’re going to nail that methodology and everyone is gonna be pretty slick, and pretty samey.

    Elevating your brand above the competition is soon going to take more than technology platforms. If CX is the new battleground, emotion is the not-so-secret weapon. Your partner, agency or consultant’s ability to unlock that power is what will create a truly unique customer experience. This process takes research, time, and crucially, expertise that does not yet exist in great quantity.

    The alternative is a future of marketing governed by efficiency and technology. Easy to navigate, boring to experience.

    This article originally appeared on Mumbrella.

  3. Media sales teams fail advertisers by not picking up the phone

    September 29, 2017 by admin

    I want you to step back and remember 2007. Some of you reading this will be like “Dude, I was 12.” However, just in case your rocks had already dropped, you are probably remembering a happy time. At that time I was running the Consumer Finance Sections at Fairfax, we closed 100 sections a year every year.

    Over three years I honed a skill that I think, by-and-large, has been lost – the skill of media sales. I’d like to think that I was pretty good at it, but I wasn’t alone. There was a massive floor of us, chasing ad dollars, grinding the phone, whipping up interest.

    Things have changed. Technology coupled with a breadth of advertising opportunity has done three things. One, it has simplified navigating an extremely confusing advertising mix. Two, it has homogenised campaigns potentially for the worse. Three, many of us have forgotten the most important tool of them all – how to sell stuff.

    Sure, the days of six-hour lunches may be no longer viable, but I’m genuinely worried that a culture of automation is killing the skill of the sales person forever. Powerful electronic communication tools, combined with automated trading and smart data have no doubt improved all our lives.

    I just think that sometimes, we have to pick up the phone and have a conversation to find out exactly why advertisers, and their agencies, are buying media. ‘Sales’ may have become a dirty word to some, but it’s ultimately about understanding needs, and delivering upon them.

    To offer the best campaigns, sales teams need to know the niggle, i.e. the business problem they’re trying to solve. Today it seems media sales teams don’t want to make phone calls, and agency staff don’t want to pick them up. It’s creating a knowledge gap that’s harming media effectiveness and wasting advertisers’ money.

    Instead of sales calls, we now have emails. In these emails, we send briefs and pitches, often accompanied with a 20-page PowerPoint deck. From the sales side, young reps jam emails full of product features and benefits. They hope what they’ve prepared is enough, but they can’t be sure. It’s a process filled with uncertainty. They don’t know the human elements; they don’t know the advertisers’ concerns.

    Often times, it’s through conversations that the real need behind an advertiser campaign gets discovered. It comes up organically over the phone, or over a coffee, or a drink.

    These little details are typically left out of the brief because they don’t match the tone of a formal document. When sales staff don’t pick up the phone, and don’t cultivate personal relationships with their agency contacts, they can fail to build an understanding of the real underlying campaign drivers.

    This knowledge gap causes pitches to suffer across all vendors and advertisers don’t get as much insight, innovation or value.

    I got a good piece of advice once. Good salespeople don’t sell, they create an ‘opportunity to buy’. To create a compelling ‘opportunity to buy’, sales reps have to understand the advertiser’s business problem. They have to earn the right to respond to genuine demand. You’re far more likely to do that with an honest phone call than over a sterile email.

    All business is ultimately based on relationships, and the media industry needs to remember this. Of course, digital disruption is here, and is very real. It’s creating opportunities to trade that we could have once only dreamed of. But however hard we try, robots can’t cut a deal like a well-placed and commercial salesperson. Let’s not let the skill slip away forever.

    So all you sales reps out there – pick up the phone and start grinding. And all you agency girls and guys, be up for the chat. You’ll be amazed with what we can do.

    This article originally appeared on Mumbrella.

  4. The programmatic witch hunt is confusing transparency with business

    August 18, 2017 by admin


    It seems that it is all the rage to have an opinion about digital transparency these days. Without pointing fingers, it appears that commentators on both sides of the digital fence are continually waxing lyrical about the imminent cliff digital media may, or may not be, hurtling towards.

    But as an interested observer, it has struck me that unless we expect Samsung, Apple or indeed any successful business to start providing a detailed breakdown of their profit margins on the price tags of their products, we might want to cut the programmatic industry a break.

    The current conversation around programmatic transparency has taken a wrong turn. It’s gone from helpfully pushing for transparent trading, to spitefully suggesting transparent business models. If martech companies caved to these demands, they would likely be the only private industry in the world to do so.

    Clearly, transparency is a good thing. Programmatic traders should be clear with clients about what media they buy, and why they buy it. They should be open about what exchanges they use, and how effective their methods are. When it comes to publishers, inventory, targeting and engagement, they should be open with agencies and advertisers. This approach creates a better environment for everyone involved. On this front, the industry can still improve.

    But lately, the conversation around transparency has morphed into something unexpected. It’s become a call for selected businesses to be publicly transparent with how they make money. This is something a smart company would simply never do.

    Working in media is about adding value. Each stage of creating, producing and planning a marketing campaign is part of a long chain of investments from advertisers, all designed to eventually make more money than they cost.

    Forgive the lesson in capitalism, but I fail to see why the programmatic industry should be asked to exist outside the same rules as everyone else.

    Look at car manufacturing. At every step of the supply chain, from steel mine, to assembly plant, to car dealership, each supplier marks up the price of their skills and service to cover their costs and make money from the efficiency and quality they bring to the production process.

    Would you ask a car manufacturer to explain why they mark up their prices?

    The cost most people pay for phones or cars is less than it would cost for the average individual to buy the raw materials and personally make the product. Electronics companies, car companies, nearly all companies, add value to the world in this way. They make specialist products available to the market at a price that represents value to consumers.

    Any brand marketer who has brought their programmatic trading operations in-house would probably agree to the value of having a martech provider doing the heavy lifting for you.

    And just like any manufacturer might have special technology that allows them to make certain material much cheaper than its competitors, I’m sure the same exists in programmatic trading. As long as the net result is still a quality product or outcome for the customer, no harm no foul.

    It’s this competitive edge that pundits and grandstanders are trying to take away from programmatic businesses. Rather than celebrate the ingenuity required to bring in campaign results on a budget, they want martech providers to explain themselves. It’s puzzling.

    Unless we’re all expecting manufacturers to start breaking down their manufacturing and distribution costs on the retail price tag, asking the same of programmatic businesses might be a bit much.

    I agree entirely that transparency and honesty is an essential commodity in media trading, but we should focus on the kind of transparency that adds value and proves ROI. Asking for total transparency and singling out certain businesses and undermines the entire industry. Where would it stop?

    This article originally appeared on Mumbrella.

  5. Online Privacy: What’s Changing, & Why You Need To Know About It

    August 8, 2017 by admin

    With the EU poised to introduce new far-reaching privacy laws, Blis group head Tom Gregory (pictured below) explores the knock-on effect this will have for advertisers and consumers, and how Aussie marketers can benefit from learning about the changes ahead of the curve.

    Tom Gregory

    Whilst it has not necessarily been headline news in Australia, in Europe the EU is currently poised to introduce new far-reaching privacy laws. Known as GDPR (General Data Privacy Regulation), these new laws seek to further secure consumer privacy in a rapidly evolving digital age. It’s major stuff, and the implementation and adoption is bound to have knock-on effects for marketers and advertisers around the world. These changes light the way for future Australian regulation, and smart marketers will start learning about them sooner rather than later.

    Firstly, don’t panic. Overall commentary expects the net effects of the rule change to be positive for the advertising industry. And importantly, even with Brexit looming, the UK has decided it will adopt the GDPR. This decision indicates the laws are widely held to be a positive step, and serves as a likely roadmap for where Australian regulation will head in future. This begs the questions: where are we now? What might change? And why should you care?

    The GDPR will give consumers much more control over how their personal data is handled by all companies. The biggest changes centre around making sure users are equipped with ample information to give ‘informed consent’ to publishers seeking to pass personal information into the advertising ecosystem. Put simply, digital publishers and technology providers who have contact with consumers in the EU will have to spell out how they plan to use a consumer’s private information much more overtly than they do now, and consumers will have to actively accept these terms to authorise their information to be used for advertising purposes.

    While these changes may seem imposing, they will not alter how digital advertising operates. If anything, I believe that giving consumer more buy-in at the initial ‘consent phase’ may actually increase consumer engagement with the advertising they receive. This belief is supported by the results a recent mobile location study conducted on the London Tube. Transport for London (TFL) carefully implemented a mobile listening campaign to assess things like how to improve traffic flow and potential advertising solutions. When they surveyed tube commuters about how they felt about their data being captured, those surveyed indicated they were much more ok with sharing data if it was an “informed decision”. And while there was apprehension about sharing mobile location data (largely owing to its newness), the TFL study concluded that once customers were aware of how it worked and how it stood to benefit them, they would be much more accepting*.

    The aim has always been a fair value exchange between publisher and consumer, and modern trends show consumers are enthusiastic about enhanced levels of personalisation. Giving consumers increased empowerment over the level of personalisation they receive will likely prove a positive step. Additionally, most adtech providers already operate to a high standard when it comes to protecting privacy, and the new laws will complement existing global efforts.

    The new EU test for consent has four key features: consent has to be freely given, it has to be informed, it has to be unambiguous, and it has to be specific. At the moment, global consent standards around personal information don’t have to pass such a stringent set of standards. The aim of these new definitions is to secure the consumer’s right to give ‘informed consent’. Australian marketers will be best served to monitor the success of these definitions when they come into full effect in the EU in May 2018.

    Recently, mobile location data has taken centre stage in the battle for privacy, and with good reason. Location data is one of the strongest indicators of interest and intent, and the majority of consumers already consent share personal information, including location, with app publishers and alike. With mobile media ecosystems continuing to mature, the volume and accuracy of location data continues to multiply. And while the new laws may alter the way information is passed into the advertising bid stream that Blis works with, they largely fit into the independent standards most ad tech players, including Blis, already adhere to.

    As it stands, the Australian location marketing arena already has high standards of government and industry-imposed regulation. Encouragingly, I regularly have conversations with clients about the nature of the data we use, and how we keep things from going ‘big brother’. I thought I’d share the measures already in place.

    Broadly, many programmatic mobile companies are concerned with two key areas:

    1. Intrusiveness: does the amount of data gathered to make a mobile ad relevant to the user make it intrusive? Or are we enriching the user mobile experience by serving them a better standard of advertising?
    2. Anonymity: is targeting a mobile device the same as targeting a mobile phone number? Does knowing one piece of information create a domino effect with other data set? And does that compromise the user’s anonymity to an inappropriate degree?

    Most independent location data technology companies, including Blis, don’t deal in PII (personal pdentifiable information). They work in ‘Non-PII’, and that means separating the user’s online and real-world behaviour from their identity. In short, location data technology businesses don’t gather or collect information like people’s names, phone number or address.

    The geolocation data we use at Blis is proprietary, and makes up a core part of our market offering. This data is also Non-PII, so while we know physically where people are, we don’t know physically who they are. That’s a very important distinction, and one that preserves the anonymity of the consumers stored in our location technology stack.

    While I believe the current regulations are strong, I also think there is always room to make things better, for both consumers and advertisers.

    Australia has traditionally been happy to follow the world’s lead on non-urgent policy matters, and consumer privacy could prove no exception, so Australian marketers would do well to look abroad for hints on what could be heading our way. Although imposing on first look, the GDPR in the EU and UK will be a positive step for those advertising markets, and I would welcome similar regulation in Australia. Local advertising and privacy standards are already high, but consumer protection is always worthy of vigilance.

    This article originally appeared on B&T.

  6. ‘Premium’ has become one of the most overused words in the industry

    August 3, 2017 by admin

    Recently I was attending a panel event featuring a self-described ‘premium publisher’ – whose claim to that title seemed to hinge on them simply being expensive and exclusive. Disappointed with the ensuing discussion, it did occur to me that ‘premium’ has become one of the most overused and least understood terms in the industry.

    The big problem with the word is that it has become shorthand for expensive instead of delivering value. As an industry, we’ve overused the term on so many different fronts that it has lost its meaning: premium partners, premium technology, premium networks.

    We either need to drop it altogether, or agree that there are a multitude of elements which contribute to something being considered ‘premium’, in which cost may (or may not) feature. With the word now so common, there’s an opportunity for brand marketers to start adopting the definition that works best for them.

    Premium should be the term for the cumulative effect of certain criteria being met, based on an individual campaign’s goals. Are your ads brand safe? How transparent are the results? Are they third-party verified, and fundamentally, are you reaching your target audience in a creative and quality environment? A diligent answer to these questions is what should have been under discussion last week. Alarm bells should be ringing if an advertiser can’t answer these questions confidently.

    In corporate terms, a premium is defined as ‘the amount to be paid for coverage under an insurance contract’. The recent discourse around brand safety and viewability make this definition a good place to start for marketers wanting to make up their own mind. Masthead publishers offer insurance against brand calamity where other corners of the digital ecosystem have been known to struggle. They also offer peace of mind around baseline performance metrics. But beyond looking at premium from a ‘brand insurance’ point of view, the definition of one of the media industry’s favourite words becomes a lot more subjective.

    A premium environment can mean two vastly different things when you compare the challenges of marketing luxury cars versus selling toothpaste. The first requires targeted media buying across selected publications in a contextually relevant environment. The second requires massive low-cost scale across readily available ad inventory. Totally different marketing goals should therefore mean an equally variable notion of premium.

    The digital ecosystem now offers an unbelievable level of diversity of publishers, formats and partnerships with third-party verification services. And the technology to prove the effectiveness of innovative digital strategies is more accurate than ever. Given these points, it makes sense for quality to be measured on a scale, rather than as being ‘good’ or ‘bad’, and for the parameters of the measure to differ depending on the needs and expectations of the brand. We don’t accept a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to media strategy, so why are we doing so when it comes to measuring the quality of media purchased within that plan?

    This notion of quality measured against individual need could replace the industry’s current obsession with the term ‘premium’. Third party verification technology from providers like Moat and Integral Ad Science exist to help marketers discover if they’re getting value from their strategy.

    This technology is continuously improving to adapt to new innovations in the market. Trying new things and stepping away from established campaign strategies no longer means flying blind, and marketers need to recalibrate their own measures of success to figure out what kind of media is going to drive the best value for them.

    Whether it’s marketing luxury cars or toothpaste, the definition of premium already varies wildly. Why then does our industry use one term to evaluate all brands and environments? A steadfast definition of premium isn’t universally feasible, but whatever it denotes, it cannot merely reflect an expensive price tag. It’s time we got real and started talking about what quality means to our individual marketing strategies.

    This article originally appeared on Mumbrella Asia.

  7. Global CEOs and ECDs should all be based in Asia, not the West

    June 5, 2017 by admin


    When I arrived in Singapore to lead MullenLowe Profero from Asia Pacific four years ago, there was with a huge sense of opportunity permeating the region.

    The markets in Asia were being talked about as the new business frontiers of the world, and with the unstoppable rise of China, having a global chief executive on the ground seemed to be a natural and logical step.

    However, as I sit here today, there are only two global agency CEOs in the region: myself and Ruth Stubbs of iProspects. What happened? When did all this optimism just fizzle out?

    It seems strange because the growth and opportunity in the region is extraordinary and APAC has continued to outgrow other regions.

    In the first quarter of 2017, India experienced a 7 per cent growth in gross domestic product, China 6.9 per cent and Singapore 2.5 per cent. Meanwhile, the United States only experienced a 0.7 per cent growth in GDP and the United Kingdom a meagre 0.3 per cent.

    New Asia-centric brands such as Alibaba, Huawei, Haier and Bayan Tree Leisure Company have emerged on the world stage outside of the well-known brands from Japan and Korea. Even Hollywood films are jockeying for a world premiere in the world’s second largest box-office territory.Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales was just released in the China on the same day as the US, marking the first premiere of its kind.

    With these kinds of trends, you would think the marketing services communities and brands would be investing here as a growth priority. This begs the question: why on earth aren’t they? Given APAC’s strong economic position compared to the rest of the world, surely now is the time to double down on investment here and bring more talent into a thriving market – not pull back.

    Sadly, brands pulling back is exactly what we are witnessing. Not only is there a limited number of global CEOs, but there has also been a cutback in regional talent. There are a few notable exceptions such as Caspar Schlickum, CEO for APAC at Wunderman, and Joakim ‘Jab’ Borgström, group creative director for BBH. But generally speaking, regional talent isn’t as well established in the market as some may think. International agencies that have opened their doors have done so half-heartedly to provide the minimum requirement for their international client list.

    The picture is confusing as the data says one thing but actions say another. Current investment in this emerging global hub does not match the growth opportunity.

    We’re seeing the seeds of promising signs of growth and economic recovery from the US and Europe, the Middle East and Africa. This, alongside events such as Brexit and the Trump presidency have apparently rattled marketers back into old patterns of behaviour and comfort zones, suggesting that established, slower markets take priority. What we are witnessing is a home-market-first mentality. But ‘America first’ shouldn’t mean APAC last.

    There also appears to be a case of ‘Soho House Syndrome’ – a private members club of Westerners  ruling from afar. Too many decisions about this region are being made in fine dining establishments of Europe and the US. As a result, our part of the world suffers from short-term decision-making so companies are taking one step forward and one step backwards.

    A three-day whirlwind trip to Asia from a visiting CEO will not give their boards the in-depth knowledge needed to make the smartest decision on the region’s potential. Any CEO based in APAC would see the wealth of opportunity here and question why marketing dollars are being prioritised elsewhere.

    All is not lost. Those businesses who do take the time to understand the region can fill the void and make huge gains.

    This may sound a little counter-intuitive to my own business, but I want to see other companies pay a little more attention to what’s happening beyond Western soil. The more talent and strategic investment in this region, the faster it will grow and the better we will all do. We will prosper together.

    Now is the time to relocate those global CEOs, executive creative directors and business leaders into APAC, to live and breathe the opportunity this region presents. Otherwise, a great chance in a flourishing market stands to be sadly wasted.

    This article originally appeared on Mumbrella Asia.