Aussie agency looks to help brands realise value of owned media assets

Sonder's new MAVmetric tool is about identifying the potential value of owned media assets then helping brands realise it

Jonathan Hopkins (left) and Angus Frazer
Jonathan Hopkins (left) and Angus Frazer

An Australian agency startup focused on helping Australian brands identify the value of their owned media assets and capitalise on it has launched its new tool-based offering to market.

Sonder is a Sydney-based agency specialising in owned-based media asset optimisation. Its software offering, MAVmetric, was launched in 29 countries this week and is designed to help brands realise the value of their own assets and tap new revenue opportunities. The company claims Australian businesses can unlock $49 million every year from the value of their own assets if they better harness them.

Four high-profile brands have started using the new software: KFC, Myer, George Weston Foods and Big4. The software works by applying multiple algorithms to ascertain the value of a company’s owned media assets across digital and physical channels, calculating the annual commercial potential a business could generate as well as how to create additional media asset value.

Sonder was established 18 months ago by founding partner, Jonathan Hopkins, a former CMO and chief strategy and marketing officer for Authentic Entertainment Australia and MCM Media, as well as managing director of strategic agency, razor. His co-partner, Angus Frazer, also boasts of media and marketing experience and was formerly with Dentsu.

According to research undertaken by Sonder across 57 worldwide companies, 96 per cent of businesses use their owned media assets to connect with their customers, yet only 12 per cent actually know the value of their owned assets.

“Often these are an afterthought or considered a cost to the business,” Hopkins said. “A retailer may have stores and think they have to use them for conversion, rather than connection, retention and advocacy tools, which is where we see owned channels.

“That attitude has led to what we call ‘lazy assets’ that are not being leveraged for maximum value extraction by brands.”

There are a few brands, however, who are starting to get on the media monetisation bandwagon internationally, and Hopkins pointed to Red Bull, Mondelez International, Pepsi and Myer as examples of companies actively making money off owned assets.

Frazer said the intention is to “reframe” the way businesses view their own media assets, and he claimed Sonder was one of the first agencies in the world to focus on this space. He also said businesses need to think beyond digital to packaging and in-store infrastructure, which also have powerful media value.

The new MAVmetric tool provides a way of quantifying owned assets in terms of audience footprint and commercial value. It does this by using reference data from 29 markets globally, based around audience metrics for 20 owned media channels. Sonder has calculated a cost per thousand for each channel, taking into account factors such as country of operation, 22 different business categories, six customer demographics, and a brand’s market positioning.

“We started by using reference data from paid media CPMs, then we created algorithms that extrapolate that to owned media assets,” Frazer explained. “There are more than 20 types of owned media assets, but the ones we have are the most common and valuable.”

Frazer said the sweet spot for Sonder is retailers, travel agencies and FMCG brands. Alongside the tool, Sonder is working with clients around scenario planning.

As an example, Hopkins said Sonder is working with Myer to realise its vision around becoming a media business. Its division, Myer Connections, operates as a media owner would, monetising assets such as its Emporium magazine and website, a database and social channels, and has many merchandise partners and suppliers relationships around co-branded opportunities.

“When we started working with them in September, what we found was that inventory was very fragmented across the business in terms of who had control,” Hopkins said. “For example, one person was on the database, one on social, then one focused on media in-store.

“We’re working with Myer on how it brings all this together, and also adding a level of sophistication that wasn’t there before.

“The MAVmetric tool allows Myer to value these assets, way beyond the 20 we listed as we created a bespoke version, and accurately predict annual revenue potential… and we’re working to now actualise that revenue potential.”

Myer GM of marketing, Michael Scott, agreed the tool is actively helping its media ownership cause.

“Our approach has been fragmented and has lacked the necessary level of sophistication,” he said in a statement. “The MAVmetric tool has allowed our business, for the first time, to value every owned asset individually and accurately predict the annual revenue potential. This is creating an entire team focused on monetising our many assets with commercial partners.”

In the case of KFC, the focus is less on monetising media assets and more on realising the value of owned media and then using these strategically as tools to communicate with customers, Hopkins said.

“Part of this is identifying exposure to owned channels to get an audience footprint, then have to leverage this, then how to monetise it,” he said.

Within George Weston Foods, Sonder is working with Tip Top to realise the value of its bread packaging as an advertising asset, which is in front of more than 17 million consumers per month. This is seeing the packaging being utilised to promote relevant and complementary product categories such as spreads and jams.

“The ideas come from the strangest places and often just haven’t been thought of,” Hopkins continued. “Our tool shines a light on these areas and audience sizes they have. People don’t think of themselves as media owners, but this tool shows them the opportunity.”

According to Hopkins, what’s stopping organisations from realising their owned media asset value is often siloed operational models. Another major hurdle is that marketing departments remain largely structured around the advertising component of marketing and not around loyalty and retention, he said.

Frazer said MAVmetric is just the start of Sonder’s platform plans. The company has a roadmap for a number of other digitally-based products that can help brands start to leverage and execute against some of the potential of their owned media assets.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+:google.com/+CmoAu

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