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CMO50 2016 #26-50: Amanda McGregor, SBS

  • Name Amanda McGregor
  • Title Director of marketing
  • Company SBS
  • Commenced role August 2014
  • Reporting Line Chief content officer
  • Member of the Executive Team Yes
  • Marketing Function 90 staff, 6 direct reports
  • Industry Sector Media and entertainment
  • 2015 ranking 25
  • Related

    Brand Post

    When asked for her proudest moment in the last 12 months, SBS director of marketing, Amanda McGregor, admits it’s just too hard to pin down.

    “I am constantly impressed by the incredible and brilliant work the SBS marketing team delivers every day,” she tells CMO.

    A major area of emphasis for McGregor in the last 12-24 months has been evolving the campaign briefing process to not only include extensive qualitative and quantitative consumption, behavioural and affinity learnings, but also first-party data insights.

    “This effectively allows us to create a vivid, multi-dimensional picture of our audience in real time, and in turn, fundamentally shapes how we bring our brand to life for those audiences,” she says. “It also ensures iterative learnings are deployed across all future campaigns and are cumulative across our ongoing, go-to-market strategy.”

    One of the activities helping SBS understand not only the most important segments of its audience, but also how to talk to them in the most relevant and engaging way, is a bespoke audience study into perceptions of the SBS On Demand platform. Using first-party data, the marketing team worked to reach these customers in spaces where they naturally spend their time, both on and off network. This was then translated into the brief for the subsequent SBS On Demand campaign.

    The resulting campaign delivered some of the largest audiences on record for SBS On Demand as well as a significant uptick in awareness and understanding of the brand and product.

    “We were further able to glean a number of actionable insights from the campaign post-analysis which will flow back through the business and help inform everything from the acquisition of content to our future go to market strategies,” McGregor states in her CMO50 submission.

    From the CMO50 submission

    Innovative marketing

    Innovation is always top of mind for the marketing team, and McGregor highlights work to launch the new SBS series, The Family Law, as an example.

    The team faced the challenge of broadening the appeal and impact of an all Australian-Asian series which McGregor says could have potentially been seen as niche among a younger, mainstream audience.

    A first-in-market, Facebook pre-release of episode one of the series delivered 1.1 million video views and reached 2.2 million Australians. Combined with a broader social engagement campaign and extensive roll out of bespoke social and digital content, this generated extensive buzz and word-of-mouth recommendation ahead of the TV premiere.

    Data- and technology-led approach

    McGregor says SBS has recently embarked on the next phase of its data and insights strategy, aimed at further embracing best-practice customer experience practices and enhance ambitions to be a world-leading, audience-centric organisation.

    “In an era of data abundance, the ability to sift through the numbers and create a meaningful dialogue with customers and audiences will become an increasingly important competitive advantage,” McGregor says.

    Ensuring ongoing relevance to contemporary multicultural Australia is a key focus for marketing and the wider business. Because utilising audience insights is ultimately a long-term project that will impact how SBS as a whole delivers meaningful, one-to-one engagement with audiences, the project necessitates meaningful engagement and involvement from across the organisation.

    “People, process and cultural change will be required to further drive authentic customer-centric behaviours within the organisation and new measurements will be required to deep dive on customer engagement and loyalty,” she says.

    As an example of data in action, McGregor points to a pilot project in March using personality targeting to introduce new viewers to the SBS On Demand platform. “We wanted to see if we could connect specific audience personas with different movies and shows, and then entice new viewers to watch these programs by targeting similar audiences with a tailored EDM campaign,” she explains.

    In collaboration with Roy Morgan, SBS tagged different kinds of programs on the platform. This gave it the ability to see what types of audiences were watching them based on Roy Morgan’s Helix Personas and using attitudinal traits and behaviours. EDMs were then developed to appeal to specific segments.

    The pilot created a clear uplift in SBS’s On Demand unique audience, and target personas had up to 65 per cent increase in cumulative unique audience within the first 48 hours of the campaign, McGregor says. There were also a number of actionable insights delivered to business.

    The impact on ways of working was also significant. The work required technology to be deployed by teams across tech and marketing that hadn’t previously worked together in such a way, she says. It also introduced a new currency with which to engage the On Demand team.

    Fostering capability

    In 2016, SBS marketing embarked on an ongoing change program with the intent of identifying opportunities for iterative operational improvement as well as identifying and addressing existing and emerging capabilities gaps.

    With a significant proportion of marketing investment going to digital channels, it’s critical teams are appropriately upskilled, and McGregor has put an emphasis on lifting knowledge around influencer outreach and engagement, digital and social asset production, interpreting data in real time, and responding accordingly.

    Most recently, the team held a series of social media workshops designed to highlight best-practice in social for key disciplines including communications, publicity, campaign management, creative development and production.

    Team output has also increased exponentially to support emerging campaign and ‘always on’ marketing models.

    “We are keeping a keen eye on tempering this with a focus on team and individual resilience and wellbeing,” McGregor says. “This is particularly critical for us at SBS, where our teams are fundamentally purpose-driven and incredibly passionate about giving our all to everything we do.”


    SBS’s unique charter encourages the marketing team to be as creative and innovative as possible. To do this, McGregor says staff work to an overarching operating principle of ‘inclusion’.

    “Our content lends itself to developing high impact, provocative campaigns designed to spark national conversations and debate around a particular topical theme or series,” she says. “This approach provides an inspiring springboard for our creative teams and not only informs concept ideation but also flows through to our media, social and stakeholder engagement strategies.”

    Constantly “mindful of the moment” in SBS marketing, McGregor says her team is working hard across disciplines to reach the right audiences, with the right message at the right time.

    A recent example she points to is SBS’s provocative Hanson documentary: Hanson; Please Explain. During its activities, organic social posts achieved a reach of 4.3 million, underlining the need to be responsive and agile and ensure the delivery of fit-for-purpose content across key platforms.

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