Christmas at Nine

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In a year truly like no other it’s more important than ever to have a partner in business to deliver real outcomes as we move towards the Christmas season. A partner who understands your customer, understands your business objectives, and understands how to leverage the power of big content moments to connect your brand with millions of Australians this festive season.

We understand changing consumer

A summer of bushfires and floods, coupled with a year of lockdowns and uncertainty, has seen consumers reset their priorities, looking at new ways to celebrate this year. In “Unboxing a Christmas like no other”, bespoke research conducted by The Lab in partnership with Powered by Nine, three key themes emerged. Simple things, made more meaningful and the Australian way.

Christmas this year will see Australians looking to simple festive moments that connect them to their family, their community and their nation. Nine’s Christmas content responds to our audiences’ needs and offers unique opportunities for your brand.

Take a closer look at “Unboxing a Christmas like no other”

Emerging themes from Nine's Christmas

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Let’s hear from 9Honey's Jo Abi as she discusses how the past 12 months will influence the festive season this year. 

Deeper insights to inform your Christmas

At Nine, we have deep consumer insights helping you to plan better and buy smarter, ensuring your brand makes it under the tree, on the Christmas table or the shopping list, ahead of your competitors. We know when our audiences are looking for inspiration, starting to plan their Christmas spend, and when the buying begins. These insights, combined with our national consumer sentiment study, will ensure your marketing dollars go further this festive season.

Discover more consumer insights from Nine’s national consumer sentiment study Consumer Pulse.

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The biggest Christmas

At Nine, we understand consumers deeply: their motivations, preferences, content interests and behaviours, across a dynamic content ecosystem from broadcast to radio, print and digital. We have an unrivalled slate of cross-platform content which will position your brand front and centre with millions of Australians as the key Christmas period draws closer.

To find out how your brand can leverage the power of to drive genuine business outcomes, request more information

Source: Unboxing a Christmas like no other, Christmas research, Nine and The Lab, 2020 N=1,000 Australians, Nine's Consumer Pulse consumer sentiment study 2020, for more information visit https://www.nineforbrands.com.au/methodology/.

Mi3 – Effective Advertising

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In the second of Mi3’s Fourcast 2021 series in partnership with Nine, McDonald’s Director of Marketing Jo FeeneySaatchi & Saatchi CEO Anthony GregorioBrand Traction Director Jon Bradshaw and Nine Director of Effectiveness Jonathan Fox debate the role of creativity in driving effectiveness and where brand marketers go for 2021.

“I think there needs to be more of a focus on some of the fundamentals, [ensuring ads are] simple, emotional, well branded; making sure that the quality of creative improves over time.”

- Jonathan Fox, Director of Effectiveness, Nine

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Rather read than watch?

A full transcript of the interview can be viewed below.

Paul McIntyre: "Welcome to Mi3’s marketing series, Future Fourcast. I’m Paul McIntyre, Executive Editor of Mi3, and this is the second episode in our four-part series, which dives into some of the key themes marketers and the broader industry will need to keep a watch on for 2021. Thanks to Nine for partnering on the series."

 

"Today we’re going to talk about what’s cool for some and irrelevant for plenty, until they realise it can really jolt business results when it’s done right. We are talking creative and effectiveness. Is the industry too obsessed by media channel and audience shifts between channels and platforms at the expense of the creative work, which actually moves people to buy, or doesn’t because it’s messed up? With us today is Jo Feeney, director of marketing at McDonald’s, Anthony Gregorio, Saatchi and Saatchi CEO, Brand Traction’s Jon Bradshaw, who has worked across Mazda, Diageo, Lion and Virgin in his long career, and Jonathan Fox, director of effectiveness at Nine. Welcome to you all."

 

Paul McIntyre: "Now I’m going to put all of you on the spot with a quick poll. Is Darrell Lea’s recent parody of the iconic Cadbury gorilla ad effective? For the audience who may not have seen it, Darrell Lea used an orangutan drumming to the beat of George Michael’s track Freedom in a rainforest to promote its noble decision not to use rainforest-busting plantation palm oil, which is destroying, of course, the habitat of orangutans. Jo Feeney, what’s your hunch on this one? Did it work? Is it effective?"

Jo Feeney: "In simple terms, it’s a no from me, Paul. I think they have a really important message that they were trying to get across, so it was almost overshadowed by the fact that it is a parody of a super-iconic piece of creative. I think the branding wasn’t strong, and they could have done a much better job of actually landing the message if they’d done it in their own way, not being a follower of a different brand strategy. I don’t know that the insight linked to what they were trying to do. I think it was asking Aussies to overthink what was probably a really important message for them, or equally a message that maybe not a lot of Australians care as much about. So for those reasons I don’t think it’s super-effective. I think it’s not the first time. I think Darrell Lea tried to imitate other advertising and that’s a bit of a watch-out for them potentially. So it’s a no."

Paul McIntyre: "Thumbs down from Jo Feeney. Jon Bradshaw, what’s your sense on this one?"

Jon Bradshaw: "Slightly reluctant thumbs down from me because I really liked the work, but that’s just a view of the creative idea. I think at an advertising level for most of the reasons Jo was talking about, I’m the same. I think the branding is really light in quite a long ad, and that’s a real problem. I think the message is overly complicated for your laidback in the sofa, scrolling through YouTube viewer, and also chocolates, the most impulsive of the FMCG categories. Really all you’re trying to do is get those distinctive brand assets in the head of someone when they walk into a store. It’s just working too hard unfortunately."

Paul McIntyre: "Anthony Gregorio, what’s your take on this one?"

 

Anthony Gregorio: "I have to agree with Jo and Jon. I think the message  it delivered, okay, it did it in an engaging way, admittedly mimicking a key competitor. I think if I was advising Darrell Lea, I’d have to say you fouled on the long-term brand effect with this spot. I agree with Jon that I don’t know that consumers wanting to buy chocolate  care that much about these issues in a TV sense, but I would tell them don’t spend money recreating a competitive ad – spend the money on building your own assets and differentiation. So to me it’s a foul on a number of counts."

 

Paul McIntyre: "Jon Fox?"

Jonathan Fox: "I’m afraid it’s four out of four, Paul. I’ve been spending some time trying to unpack the key elements of creative effectiveness. I’ve landed on three really important things, simple, emotional, and well-branded. And I think all of you guys have touched on that, which is the branding. As Jon mentioned, it comes very late in the ad. It doesn’t necessarily mean putting a logo on everything. You’ve got to have key, distinctive brand assets. So I think there’s a danger of misattribution here, and ultimately you end up growing the category leader, although in this instance it’s not that obvious that it’s confectionery and it’s about chocolate or other confectionery goods. So I think Cadburys is likely to benefit from this."

Paul McIntyre: "Right. So Jo Feeney, you touched on the fact that it wasn’t original and I guess my question is, and I’m the amateur amongst the four of you, do the punters even care if it was not original? Yes, in industry terms and in advertising, we award new thinking, new executions. Do people care that it wasn’t original? And I guess we’ll start there with that question."

Jo Feeney: "I think sometimes we underestimate, and sometimes we overestimate, consumers and how they absorb the advertising. And I think they do when there’s something iconic. I think they think, “Why are you doing that? Why are you replicating another brand so exactly?” I think there’s one way to do that, which is now there aren’t many new or unique insights,  a lot of advertising has potentially shared X insights. Sorry, but it’s the execution  that differs. So in this case, I do think there are a lot of people who would recognise that spot as a reflection and a direct replication of Cadbury. I think that actually makes them look like a real follower and not a leader, and brands have to be careful of that. When you’re replicating or remaking your own work, that’s different. But when it’s a direct take of someone else’s work, it’s a real watch-out for brands. And I think consumers pick up on that."

Paul McIntyre: "The brand purpose of it, the authentic part of trying to do some good stuff for the world and the environment in this case – I recognise that’s a big move for a company like this. You also suggest that it’s not landing, or people don’t necessarily care about that either?"

 

Jo Feeney: "I think Jon tapped into that – when you’re looking at the product, and it’s an in-house product, and if you’re the only person in the market who hasn’t followed that path, for example. If everyone was removing palm oil and you hadn’t been, absolutely, it’s a real watch-out to make sure you’re doing that. It’s a hygiene factor I think. And I guess you would like to think that they’d done their research. But working in the industry with similar products in some ways, sometimes I think we already overthink what people really pay attention to. Sometimes we overthink what’s going tip them over the edge to buying your product. How many people weren’t buying Darrell Lea because of palm oil? I’m not sure, but I think we sometimes overthink that as well."

 

Paul McIntyre: "Jon Bradshaw."

Jon Bradshaw: "I’ve thought about familiarity in advertising a lot. It’s one of the most complicated bits. We actually like things are familiar. There is a reason why there’s a hundred Marvel Avengers films, but you’ve got to do it with the other side of that coin, which is really distinctively, so that it’s your version of the familiar. I talk about distinctively familiar and it’s a real challenge. It’s why advertising is difficult, right? Because you want both of those things to lean on things that people can process in a low attention way, but also do it in a way that’s clearly from you, clearly about your product, and clearly in your category. And this ad’s working, using parody, which is a thing we all understand as a mechanism. But it’s making the audience work very hard to understand what the parody is, and why it should be funny, and how that connects to chocolate, and how that connects to Darrell Lea in particular."

Paul McIntyre: "Anthony Gregorio, you’re the CEO of a creative agency. You like originality, and it’s historically what ad agencies do, it’s got to be big ideas that are brand new. To my earlier question, do the punters care that it’s not original? It’s important for you and your industry, but to the punters?"

Anthony Gregorio: "I think it’s less a question about originality and what works for the brand. I suspect that some of the people that may have watched that ad could have taken that message out for their competitor. Like,  Cadbury are no longer using palm oil because it was such a well-known ad for a segment of the audience that would remember it. Parodies are a legitimate technique to use, and we’ve used it in the past for clients. But ultimately the fundamental tenet of creating a brand and creating preference for a brand is creating differentiation for that brand to your key competitors."

Paul McIntyre: "Well, if you pardon the pun, there’s our sugar-hit conversation. We’ll move on. Jo Feeney, you’ve been judging the advertising council’s effectiveness awards of late. What are some of the key observations you’ve made so far on the entries and this broader conversation we’re having about creative effectiveness?"

 

Jo Feeney: "It’s been a real pleasure to be able to judge some of those awards and see some of the great work that’s out there in the industry. For me personally it was such a reminder that you don’t need shiny new things to be able to shape and shift a brand and drive growth. I think  too often we think we have to have a brand new product or something that’s different to drive growth. It was a great reminder, certainly from a long-term effectiveness point of view, that we don’t need some of those things. What we do need is great advertising, a great insight, and things that really resonate with consumers, that connect with them. So what I saw, and the best work we saw, was that which was born out of a real truth, a real human truth, and executed in a great way that drove that impact, relevance and emotion. Emotion is such a big part of some of those longer-term pieces that drives the effectiveness."

 

Paul McIntyre: "Jo, I think you’ve done some econometric work at McDonald’s which says maybe 50 per cent of the effectiveness of a media channel is the creative. Is that the number we’re looking at?"

Jo Feeney: "Absolutely. It could even be a little bit more on the creative side. My media manager at the time said, “What? What creative has got more to play in?” When you think about ROMS and ROI, etcetera, and the creative component of that is significant. From a McDonald’s point of view, I’m part of a global creative council team, and we’ve been talking about this for the last couple of years, how do we make our work far more effective from a creative point of view. Creative excellence is a topic that’s critical for us,  something we’ve been working on to build. How do we make sure our work is more creatively excellent, so that it gives us a much better return more broadly? So absolutely, creative plays a far bigger part, dare I say it, then even the media component, which I think is a new level of understanding for a lot of people."

Paul McIntyre: "Well, it would. It’s going to smash a whole bunch of perceptions about how things work. Jon Bradshaw, is there too much of an obsession by industry about media channel and audience trends versus creative and impact? And why is that? Is it the same for marketers and or is marketers as guilty as the rest of us for that?"

Jon Bradshaw: "The answer is both, because of course the answer is both, right? And there’s other work that echoes exactly what Jo is saying, about half is to do with the creative itself and the other half is where you put it. And to a surprisingly little amount, the brand that’s being advertised in the first place. Big brands advertising works harder because they’re big brands. That’s just a slightly sad truth. But yeah, I think we are obsessed as an industry with media. We on the Mi3 podcast have talked more about media than anything else in the last 18 months, two years, so we’re guilty of perpetuating the obsessive interrogation of the complexity that is media. And it is only half of the advertising equation at least. It’s like it’s refreshing to be here to be less than in different."

 

Paul McIntyre: "Anthony Gregorio, you’ve got some very well known brands in your portfolio, Arnott’s , St George Bank and Toyota to name a few. Where are they at in their thinking around creative and what's been happening for them through COVID? What’s been the conversation there?"

 

Anthony Gregorio: "They’re all doubling down, for one of the better ways of putting it, around creating not just short-term but long-term campaigns. And I think as Jo and Jon have mentioned, creative is about half the effect. But actually when you get creative right, it has much more than just half the impact. It can have a huge multiplier effect. One of the great things about the conversation is that there’s a ream of evidence from great academics, Peter Field, Les Binet and others, that proves that when you get a campaign right, if a campaign is highly awarded, one of the stats is that it’s eight times more likely to drive a general business result over lesser rewarded campaigns, and 16 times more likely to drive greater profitability for a brand. That’s data you can’t afford to ignore as a marketer. And smart marketers obviously don’t ignore that."

Anthony Gregorio: "So I think the other thing that is unusual for this time, and actually a great opportunity, is that it’s all about share at the moment. If you’re in a category that’s facing some declines, share is  crucial. And you’re never going to get a better time when competitors might be distracted, competitors might not be spending as much, they might not be focused on brand building, and these are the things that, if you can focus on the job at hand, you can really drive an advantage in the marketplace."

Paul McIntyre: "Are you having those conversations? Are they landing with your clients?"

Anthony Gregorio: "Absolutely. And it’s tough because there’s always competing agendas in organisations. But I think the brands you mentioned all have incredibly strong marketing functions and smart marketers who have a seat at the table, and can argue their point well."

Paul McIntyre: "So Jonathan Fox, back to the media conversation. You’re in the hot seat now because you’re in a media company with a creative effectiveness remit. How was that working? What are the conversations you’re having with the market around that?"

Jonathan Fox: "I view my role as an in-house consultant, advising brands on how to effectively advertise, making sure they really nail those fundamentals around simple, emotional, well-branded. And then if I think about, I sit within  Powered, Nine’s marketing solutions division, and they have the goal of creating big ideas that make advertising famous. And when I think about fame, it’s not necessarily awards, which are great and good recognition, not fame amongst the marketing community, but fame amongst consumers by having those really big, bold ideas."

 

Jonathan Fox: "Nine recently announced at their Upfront the State of Originality, which is a very exciting new call to arms amongst the creative community, to make sure that people are willing to take a bit more risk and try and almost create Australia’s own version of say the Super Bowl or the Christmas ads in the UK, to create those really big famous advertising events. So Nine are giving away a million dollars worth of advertising across TV, radio, publishing and digital. And that will be based on the winner of the most creative ad that will be aired within State of Origin in 2021."

 

Paul McIntyre: "So what does that do for you? You’re going to go for that million bucks? Any interest? And what do you make of it by the way?"

Anthony Gregorio: "I think anything that stimulates the opportunity to create great work is a good initiative.  We’ll certainly talk to our clients about spots that might go well."

Paul McIntyre: "I’m personally thinking of doing something myself, because I’m quite creative, and I’ll give the million dollars to charity or whatever it is. But listen, Jon Fox, what else is on the effective  horizon for you? I think there’s some interesting stuff that came out from Professor Karen Nelson Field in the last week around attention, I think that’s got your attention. What do you make of that? In a creative context as well."

Jonathan Fox: "Really exciting stuff. I’ve been following what Karen has been doing for a while. A new attention, active attention metric. Trying to move from buying an opportunity to actually buying someone’s attention. And I think that could create a step change to provide that accountability for planners to start realising the right channels to really gauge or to gain a consumer’s attention."

Jonathan Fox: "I think to link that back into the creative it will be interesting to see how the quality of the creative starts to impact on attention, because intuitively we know the ads that start with a bit of a bang and capture your attention should be more effective. It’d be really interesting to see that link between creative and attention."

Paul McIntyre: "Jo Feeney, what’s been your focus at Macca’s through COVID around creative and messaging? And what does that look like in the next 12 months? I think you’re definitely a fan of what has been talked about here before, Peter Field and Les Binet work on short-form retail style ads versus long-term investment branding. What’s been happening with you and where’s the investment mix  going?"

 

Jo Feeney: "I am a big Liz and Peter fan. I think Anthony touched on that previously as well. And I think what we’ve seen through COVID in particular, we all know we’re feeling beings, that’s the heart of who we are. And I think where we focused is leaning into that from a brand point of view. So we’ve leaned into our brand proposition in a bigger way. What we’ve seen is a shift in some of the other more retail-focused work that we’ve done. I talked a little bit before about tonality, and I think just being aware of how consumers are feeling. Not shifting to the point where you’re actually saying, “Hey, it’s COVID times and therefore we’re doing this.” I think it’s just being cognisant of what you need to be telling people and how you need to be making them feel."

 

Jo Feeney: "We’ve been very importantly focused on reassurance and trust, building those trust messages and making people feel safe during this time. So we built some work around that. We’ve seen our trust scores go up during this time. Shares we talked about is critical. So making sure that we’re investing in the right way from a media point of view has also been really important. All of those things combined is how we focused."

Jo Feeney : "And it’s not about changing your strategy, it’s about making sure your strategy is still on the right course. I think we’ve seen things accelerate because of COVID. So far bigger investment in digital channels, just because of the way we’ve had to interact with consumers. And I don’t see that changing, I think that will continue to accelerate, the growth and delivery platforms, etcetera. Three years have come into one and we’ve accelerated in a big way. So I think just leaning into the right things, but making sure that the work you’re doing is connecting with the consumer."

Paul McIntyre: "Jo, give us an example.  of what temptation you’ve had to resist in terms of the tonality and creative execution. Where could you have gone, but didn’t? And then how does the creative look?"

 

Jo Feeney: "An example is our brand, sorry, our value work, where our platform was the song I Need a Dollar, a famous Aloe Blacc track. We reassessed and thought  is that the right message to be giving people during this time, where people are struggling and there’s a lot of hardship? So we adjusted that and we have continued to do that during COVID. We’ve actually seen a really positive response to that, which is one example of how we’ve pivoted. And the longer-term focus on our brand work over the last couple of years, seeing a compounding impact on the creative effectiveness of our retail work. So I guess leading perfectly into the long and short of it, as Liz and Peter would talk to, it’s really coming true for us as a business."

 

Paul McIntyre: "Anthony, how are your blue chip clients viewing the next 12 months? Are they the preparing for more activity in the market? And you’ve sort of touched on it, but how forward are they getting? How aggressive?"

Anthony Gregorio: "I think all our big clients are now in a recovery mindset and they are exactly like Jo   at McDonald’s, focusing on short and long-term and not one at the expense of the other. It’s a funny quote, but I think it was a guy called Hugh Jonson at PepsiCo who said, “Any idiot can do short-term and any idiot can do long-term. The trick is doing both.” That is really what Macca’s is doing, what the likes of Toyota and Westpac group and Arnott’s some of our other clients are doing, because if you take your eye off that ball you’re going to suffer, whether it’s short-term or long-term. Our job as marketers is to ensure that a business doesn’t get into that position."

Paul McIntyre: "Jon Bradshaw, what’s your hunch? And what happens in the next 12 months on the creative front, more of the same, or will we get better or worse? And what are  the conversations you’re having with brands?"

Jon Bradshaw: "Look, I think we’re getting better, but I think we’re getting better slowly, and this room is a fabulous confirmation. Advice from people all agreed on the same stuff who have read the right books and have thought the right thoughts. We’re not normal, this is not what [crosstalk 00:23:35] talked about or looks like. So I’m really conscious that I can’t get out of my bubble to find out what the real world’s really like, but I am seeing more people talking about Lez and Peter’s work, Byron Sharp’s work, Mark Ritson continuing to stir the pot in an appropriate kind of way that at least gets people engaging with these concepts."

Jon Bradshaw: "So I would hope we’d see improvement, but I’m not expecting anything dramatic. For a marketer, it’s such a small amount of their job, the advertising bit, for most marketers, and yet when you come to do it, it’s a huge amount of the budget that you’re playing with. The fear of mucking that up is enormous, so the market is hyper-cautious."

 

Jon Bradshaw: "My experience of a large percentage of the creative community, present company excepted, is that they really care about the famous and the motive bit of it, but less about the branding and the message bit of it. And the clients, the reverse. They’re obsessing about whether the message is exactly right, and getting the brand in the right place, and missing the fact that if the thing is interesting and engaging, then it’s not going to work in the first week. And all of these forces are pushing against what is happening, which is that most people go, “Oh, hang on. This is a bit more complicated than I thought it was. And we need to think about it a bit harder, and we need more subtlety and thought in the way we do this thing.” So I’m seeing improvement, but I think it’s a long road, not a fast transformation."

 

Paul McIntyre: "Jo Feeney, fair points there?"

Jo Feeney: "A hundred per cent. I’m nodding furiously because I couldn’t agree with Jon more. I think when you look at an ad and it’s amazing, no one thinks about the work and the thought and the strategy that goes into actually building that great creative. So I couldn’t agree more.?

Paul McIntyre: "That’s it for our second edition in the Forecast 2021 series. We’ll have another in two weeks, so stay tuned. Thank you, Jo, Jon Bradshaw, Anthony, and Jon Fox. You’ve got a big job to do cracking this message into the media and media sector. So good luck with that and stay safe. Thank you."

 

For further information, contact your Nine representative, or complete the form below. A member of the team will be in touch.

Under the hood of Nine and Adobe’s data partnership

Nine recently launched its new Audience Match product, in partnership with leading technology company Adobe, that allows marketers to unlock Nine’s ecosystem of more than 13 million signed-in users.

Audience Match is designed to enable Nine to help brands in activating people-based audiences across all of our properties, with Coles signing on as the launch partner.

In recent weeks, a number of senior marketers have wanted more information about the partnership and the opportunities it unlocks within Nine’s rich, brand-safe content environment.

In this video, Adobe’s Suzanne Steele, Coles’ Lisa Ronson, OMD’s Melissa Hey and Nine’s Michael Stephenson sit down with Mi3’s Paul McIntyre to discuss both the opportunity in Nine and Adobe’s audience-matching product and more broadly the opportunity that exists through a move to a more people-based marketing approach.

Rather read than watch? A full transcript of the interview can be viewed below.

Paul McIntyre, Executive Editor, Mi3: “Welcome to Mi3’s new marketing series, Future Forecast. This four-part series will deep dive into some of the key themes marketers and the broader industry will need to keep a watch on for 2021. Thanks to Nine for partnering on the series.

‘Today we're going to talk about what most companies and marketers are moving on at light speed, particularly through COVID: that’s data, digital transformation, customer experience and targeting. And we’ll get to that hot topic of a post-cookie world too. With us today is Lisa Ronson, CMO at Coles, who among other things recently entered the era of the printed supermarket catalogue. A massive move in my mind. We’ll hear from Lisa on that and where she sees broader digital transformation headed at Coles. We also have Adobe’s managing director, Suzanne Steele, Nine’s chief sales officer, Michael Stephenson, and OMD national chief investment officer Melissa Hey. Welcome to you all. Let’s get straight to it.

“Lisa Ronson, you’ve made a couple of big calls of late that I’m aware of, at least. You dropped printed catalogues and you were the first company to sign up to this new alliance between Nine and Adobe on people-based marketing. Just give us a sense on what’s happening at Coles when you say digital transformation.

Lisa Ronson, Chief Marketing Officer, Coles: “Well Paul, it’s all about having a very clear purpose and that’s to sustainably feed all Australians so they can live healthier and happier lives. So, a key part of that is serving up to them the content, when they need it and what they need. And it varies during different parts of the day, different seasons. So, this is really for us all about better targeting, more personalisation and serving the right content to the right customer at the right time.”

Paul McIntyre: “How long, Lisa, have you been on that journey? You’ve been at Coles for how long, and has it started before then? But what’s been the timeline on that?”

Lisa Ronson: “I’ve been at Coles now for 18 months and the transformation started before I joined. But it’s safe to say like a lot of organisations, with what’s been going on in the world for the last nine months, digital adoption has been at light speed. And so we know that our customers are engaging with digital channels more than they ever have been before, and Suzanne can probably talk to the stats on that, she would see it, and also Michael. And so we’ve probably fast-tracked a lot of the decisions we would have made in time – we’ve just made them at a different pace.”

Paul McIntyre: “And what are the key areas of focus for you that fast-tracked, Lisa? What areas have been on your radar?”

Lisa Ronson: “Well, you talked about the catalogue. We’ve been printing a catalogue for 50 or more years and walking it to letter boxes around Australia, and we’ve stopped doing that. We still have printed catalogues available in store if our customers need them. But we found that our customers were really engaging with both specials and value and also wanting to get a bit of inspiration as well. So we’ve moved from just talking about price on its own. We talk about solutions now. So price is so important to customers and that will continue. But what we’re trying to do is provide the right content that provides really great value for our customers, and the inspiration that they want for dinner and what they’re going to cook tonight and at the weekends.”

Paul McIntyre: “So, Suzanne Steele, digital transformation and customer experience is part of Adobe’s big mantra in the market. What have you seen happening in the past six months with companies through COVID? What are they doing? And I guess, what are the hotspots in digital transformation that you’ve seen in the last six months?”

Suzanne Steele: “Thanks, Paul. I think what we’re seeing is really organisations who were somewhere on their digital transformation journey are the companies and businesses that have truly proved to be much more resilient during this time. And we’ve seen projects being delivered in light speed that in the past would have taken 18 months or two to three years.

I can give you some examples of that. Obviously grocery retailers like Coles are big customers of Adobe as are all of the big banks. But for other organisations that really have stepped it up, take Petbarn, for example. They moved to all of their stores having to become distribution centres more or less overnight at the beginning of COVID. And they saw online sales go up by 43 per cent. They put in place their experience-driven commerce solution and it paid for itself within two weeks.”

Paul McIntyre: “How quickly did they move on that? And I guess they’ve used Adobe for that roll out?”

Suzanne Steele: “Yes, they did use Adobe. We were already working with them with Experience Cloud, but the eCommerce solution was fairly new. So that was stood up within six weeks.”

Paul McIntyre: “And other examples, Suzanne, more broadly these hot spots. Are there similar initiatives like Petbarn that a lot of others have been doing?”

Suzanne Steele: “Yeah. Certainly experience-driven commerce is where it’s at. Another example of that is 99 Bikes. They saw record sales in April of 2020 when we couldn’t do very much except one-hour exercise. So they were selling as many as 1500 bikes a day and their revenue in April reached 3.1 million, which was more than double the previous December. And December is typically their biggest sales month. So real innovation from customers.”

Paul McIntyre: “Is that across the board? Large blue-chip companies doing this, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises? And what’s the different response? Are they doing it differently according to company size?”

Suzanne Steele: “I think everybody who needed to move to have a digital front door moved really quickly if they hadn’t already done it. And to be honest, that is across the board, other than those companies who went into hibernation, and we know who they are. Even the New South Wales Department of Education, who had been on a digital transformation journey for 13 months leading up to the bushfires and COVID, migrated 2,200 school websites over a period of 13 months. It was a huge lift for them. They were able to then broadcast closure alerts during the bushfires and also during COVID. So it is really across all segments.

Paul McIntyre: “It’s fascinating to start to see in retrospect how companies and organisations are rolling it out. Lisa let’s get to those big moves you’ve made around catalogues and then the Nine Adobe licence. How hard was it to make that call on eliminating the printed catalogue? And why were you first on this people- based marketing initiative.

“For those that are not aware, Nine is putting about 13 million registered users across TV, newspaper or news media and radio assets into Adobe's data set. It’ll allow blue-chip marketers, at least like banks and retailers, telcos and eCommerce operations to load their customer databases into Adobe Audience Manager and experience platforms to target and personalise communications in premium content environments, like they do already with Facebook and Google. But first Lisa again. How big was that call to make on catalogue? Was there a lot of debate internally?”

Lisa Ronson: “Like any big decision in an organization there’s a lot of debate. But one of our values is to be completely customer-obsessed. So the insights we got from our customers were that their preference was to engage with us digitally so they could get that content and the solutions they were looking for. And now they can go onto our digital catalogue, we’ve got a contents page, they can pick what they want to go to and look for. It’s actually easier to engage digitally than it is to sometimes leaf through the whole paper catalogue. But they’re still available in store. We have stopped printing millions of catalogues per week that we’re not walking to letter boxes. Because we found that most households were preferring to use digital channels rather than their traditional channels. And so we just pivoted to cater to that customer need and desire. When you’re making decisions on the basis of the customer it’s not that difficult.”

Paul McIntyre: “Well, it’s interesting. I mean the risk to the randomness sometimes of discovery in the catalogue, even my 13-year-old will go through a printed catalogue and discover that there’s some sort of device he wants, and then the lobbying starts. That sort of discovery process though is obviously a small part of how people consume catalogues or look for what they want.”

Lisa Ronson: “Given the age of your son, Paul, he’ll probably find that discovery digitally anyway. So you’re not off the hook. Sorry about that.”

Paul McIntyre: “Thanks for the tip.”

Lisa Ronson: “We just want to engage with our customers in the channels and the way they want to be engaged. And you asked about the Nine-Adobe partnership. It was an extension of a partnership. We’ve had a longstanding partnership with Nine and Adobe, so it’s really about being effective per personalisation. And this gives us that effective personalisation at scale. Given that we cater to the majority of the Australian market, that scale is really important to us. So for us, with customer insights and being customer-focused, it was a no-brainer.”

Paul McIntyre: “Melissa, you work with Coles on this and it’s brought a media strategy. What’s your take on the Nine-Adobe initiative and what it means for brands more broadly? Are we going to see more of these sorts of initiatives and moves?”

Melissa Hey, National Head of Trading, OMD: “I think it’s a great opportunity for all of our clients. It’s something new in market. And I guess the opportunity with the scale and getting into premium Australian content is where the interest lies. We haven’t previously had that opportunity with YouTube and Facebook. Also, you’re not sure on the safety side of it as well. So there’s also the brand safety aspect as well on the premium content. There’s a lot of interest from clients.

“I think how they use it though will be very different. It depends on where each client is that on their digital transformation. And I must say it’s actually not just the digital transformation. I think it’ a journey because we’ve just seen over these last eight months that people are having to change and adopt very quickly. I think that’s going to be a continuation and we’ll be seeing a lot of clients adapting and changing. And it’s not just a once sort of ‘set and forget’, it’s a continuing updating that roadmap for your digital ecosystem.”

Paul McIntyre: “The interest in clients, Mel, across the board on what Nine has done. Has it triggered some broader interest as to how they use people-based marketing? Beyond what we see with wall gardens and Google and Facebook?”

Melissa Hey: “Yeah, there’s interest in wanting to understand how it can work. I think that’s the biggest point that we’ve seen, and a lot of inquiries coming in from clients, how they can use it. Each one will adapt differently. Because at the moment it’s still at scale, but it’s not necessarily one-to-one marketing. It’s still quite broad, but it is addressable, so it’s really important. And each client is going to probably use it differently, but they still have to understand all the elements that are available for them. We take each client on an individual basis.”

Paul McIntyre: “Lisa, give us a sense of how you’re going to use this Adobe-Nine match-up and in what areas, what ways?”

Lisa Ronson: “Well, as I said before, we’ve got such great, rich content that our customers are really looking for. So, for us, using the partnership is all about the greater personalisation, using the data that Nine have across their broader audience so we can get those messages and that content out to our customers when they need it and when they are looking for it. It’s our strategy of right customer, right message, right time. And this just helps us do that. We are constantly looking for ways that we can better target and provide better service to our customers and this is just one part of our overall marketing strategy to do that.”

Paul McIntyre: “Mel, you mentioned it’s an opportunity for clients around premium content. We haven’t seen this before. What’s the sense on benchmarking Google and Facebook against the premium content player like Nine? What are your expectations around the effectiveness of this and the difference in performance?”

Melissa Hey: “This is the really exciting part I think for clients, to be able to start to really see the engagement levels, because we’ve always predicted that premium content does provide higher engagement. Having this opportunity now, we can do some testing to actually confirm that and get the insights, especially with what’s being talked about in the market today around engagement, and not every viewing is equal. So I think this is a really good opportunity for clients to test that theory.”

Paul McIntyre: “What has been the reaction from the market so far? It’s still early days.”

Michael Stephenson, Nine’s Chief Sales Officer: “I think people are still getting their heads around it because what we’ve created alongside Suzanne and Adobe is actually quite simple. What we do know is that people-based marketing and addressability are critical for advertisers, they’re big emerging themes. They will be critical to short, medium and long-term business growth. And at Nine, that’s what we're all about. How can we partner with the likes of Adobe and others to deliver better business outcomes for clients?

“So as a result of that, the incoming poster announcement at our Upfronts just on two weeks ago has been quite overwhelming. What brands are realising is that this is actually quite easy to do. If you’re an Adobe Audience Manager customer, you can simply upload your data segments and your audiences into the platform and match them with ours, you can activate via an email, and it can be up and running within 24 hours. Then you’ll continue to transact and buy those audiences the same way that you do today using Facebook and Google. There’s an amazing part of the process which brings a big smile to my face. Would I like to choose Facebook, Google or Nine, sitting within the platform that makes buying our audiences in our premium environments very, very easy?”

Paul McIntyre: “Well, to Mel’s point, it does for the first time put a premium content company up against Google and Facebook to test effectiveness. How do you think you’ll go?”

Michael Stephenson: “I think really, really well. We have proven at an industry level through Think TV, the power of advertising on television and the combination of linear TV and BVOD. Of course, BVOD brings together the very best of television with the very best of digital. And what we’ve been able to do or what we’ve enabled advertisers to be able to do with the Adobe partnership is not target at scale within that premium BVOD environment to start with. Then into the first quarter of next year we’ll roll that out across our broader digital ecosystem. But I think this is kind of next evolution of people-based marketing to deliver better outcomes for brands. And I’m positive that brands advertising in an environment where consumers are more engaged, deeply connected to the content, will deliver business outcomes. Nine are committed to working with brands to make that happen.”

Paul McIntyre: “Mel, what’s your hunch on how this is going to go? And how will someone choose Facebook and Google over Nine or vice versa? What's your sense there?”

Melissa Hey: “I think it will depend on the campaign, but we’d need to test it as well. It’s a massive opportunity. The definite positive is the brand safety. At the moment, we have a lot of discussion in market on social channels around what is happening and how do you actually manage that. So you’ve got brand safety brand suitability, and the responsibility as well of where you want to be. So it really does benefit Nine in that premium content, having it there as a first choice, because you are assured of brand safety and the security around it.”

Paul McIntyre: “The great argument with traditional media companies is reach. And now we’re starting to get to some personalisation. Does that affect even how media agencies think and operate, and plan reach and personalisation? It gets a whole lot more targeted, doesn’t it?”

Melissa Hey: “Definitely. Reach is always going to play a big role. It’s actually about reaching, and we’ve mentioned that Nine has the scale there with 13 million users to be able to compete with YouTube and Facebook. Because usually you go there for the next reach step, to get the consumer-centric or the personalisation message out there.”

Paul McIntyre: “Lisa, the budget allocations for how you execute on this now when you’ve got big reach, big mass brand campaigns and personalisation. Does it affect how you allocate your budgets in the next 12 months, two years, that whole scenario?”

Lisa Ronson: “Absolutely. We’re constantly iterating how we spend our budget because we want to be customer-centric. People based marketing will force brands to be more customer-centric and think about how their above the line or long-term communications work with their below the line, short-term communications. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all. I think the mix will constantly iterate and change. It depends on time of the year as well, what people are doing at the time, whether they’re out and about or at home. Customer-based marketing and people-based marketing will force us to become more customer-centric and that’s always a good thing.

Paul McIntyre: “Finally, a wrap-up for this whole white-hot theme around the end of cookies in the digital world and a move to people-based marketing. What could it look like in two years’ time, Lisa, that whole notion of being post-cookies and people-based?”

Lisa Ronson: “I think it’s more conversations around customer centricity. Brands are really focused on their own first-party data, how they can build better connections and better loyalty with their customers. And I think we saw that in the EU post-GDPR. A lot of brands went to their own first-party data, what they knew about their customers to better service their customers. So again, it’s all about customer centricity, being more targeted and delivering the content that our customers are looking for at the right time.”

Paul McIntyre: “Suzanne, I guess this is in your sweet spot too, between cookies and people-based, and it’s where Adobe is headed or is. What’s your sense of what companies are going to be doing in the next 12 months, two years in this whole area?”

Suzanne Steele: “I think data is king and content is queen. And I think as consumers, their having frictionless customer experiences is going to be the answer. I absolutely that receiving relevant and timely content that’s non-invasive is what customers are expecting now.”

Paul McIntyre: “It’s a big change though, Suzanne, because the industry is built essentially on an infrastructure of cookies in the digital scene. There must be some very quick moving going on about what the hell we do now. Are seeing that?”

Suzanne Steele: “Yeah, we are. Adobe has been planning for this for quite some time. That’s why innovations like custom destinations that we’re doing with Nine have been fast-tracked.”

Paul McIntyre: “Mel, again for media agencies and digital, the whole industry has been based on cookies. What does people-based mean for you, your company, and also the industry? It’ll be quite a radical change. I guess there’s a lot of smoking tyres.”

Melissa Hey: “I think so, but we've been planning for this for a while too. I think all marketers have been looking to be able to do personalisation and be more targeted to get engagement. The marks become so fragmented that engagement is key. So everybody, and I would say the majority of clients, have been working on their first-party data to ensure that they can do personalisation. So whilst it’s coming quickly, cookies being taken out, I think clients are getting prepared and have been for a while, because they wanted to move into the space of personalisation and ensuring engagement with their customers.”

Paul McIntyre: “So, Michael. Suzanne said data’s king, content’s queen. What does it say to you for Nine in terms of cookies and people-based? You’re clearly moving there, but what’s the big picture?”

Michael Stephenson: “At Nine we are a content, data and technology company, and it’s in that order. So I would say content is king and data is queen. But the two of them are clearly very important in terms of how they must work together. In February 2016, we launched Nine Now and asked consumers to sign into that platform. So we have also been building towards this point for just on four years, and there's 13 million signed-in users now in our digital ecosystem. That’s important because first-party data will become the currency of the future.

“And the theme I think we see play out over the course of the next couple of years is addressability and people-based marketing at scale. Where we won’t go is down to such an individual level whereby you target such small groups, because that won't allow us to deliver business outcomes. And at the end of the day, all of these things are designed to make sure that Coles and all of our other customers ultimately deliver greater business outcomes and increased sales or whatever their particular KPI is. So all of these things work together to get us to that end point.”

Paul McIntyre: “So is there any clue on what’s next from you in terms of people-based marketing beyond Adobe, Michael?”

Michael Stephenson: “Our relationship today is with Suzanne and Adobe, and they’ve been amazing partners forever. But who knows where these things evolve for both Suzanne’s business and ours. For the immediate future, we’re obsessed by getting this right. A significant number of Australia’s largest advertisers are on the Adobe platform. And like I said, the incoming already post their upfronts has been quite overwhelming. So, it's how do we get this up and running and make it operational, so that all the advertisers in Australia that have a first-party data asset can take advantage of our premium environments to deliver better outcomes.”

Paul McIntyre: “Lisa, I’ve got to ask a final cheeky question. Suzanne says that data’s king and content’s queen. Michael says content’s king and data’s queen. Which way are you going to go?

Lisa Ronson: “I'm saying they’re both queen, but I would. But I think in summary, Stepho just knocked it on the head. Then when he was talking about customer centricity and it’s about growth, this is all about growth.”

Paul McIntyre: “Great points. Well, that’s it for our first edition in the Forecast 2021 series. We’ll have another in two weeks. So stay tuned. Thank you to Lisa, Suzanne, Mel and Michael, and stay safe.”

This content was originally published on Mi-3.com.au.

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