CMO interview: Tackling transformation of APN and out-of-home advertising

APN general manager of marketing talks through brand transformation, data-led audience insights and why CMO tenure is a problem


What types of data and insight are you’re endeavouring to provide clients first?

What we do in outdoor is provide audience. And we reach all people; that pool is deep. One of the fundamental changes to our business is moving away from being a real estate agent, to being able to articulate that audience.

If we can demonstrate that we understand that audience and why it adds value to the advertiser, then we’re one step ahead. So we use data to tell a story about your customer – here’s who they are, what they do and how they do it, and here are products that help you influence them along the journey, from transit to billboards. The solution is a means to an end.

Various figures suggest CMO tenure in Australia is shortening. As a CMO yourself, why do you think we’re seeing such a phenomenon?

We actually heard a lot about this when we were working with the Cannes keynote and presentations this year. On one of our panels, featuring agencies, creatives and marketers, we talked about award-winning ideas and how ballsy some of ones that won were. All panellists agreed you need tenure to get some of these ideas to happen. And they’re all about fostering strong relationships between the marketer and their agency. A lack of tenure is eroding some of these opportunities and creative possibilities.

One reason it’s happening is the pace we are moving at. But there’s also so much choice in terms of where we could work. Sometimes it’s people getting burnt out, but also there’s so much agility, people are just trying to keep up and stay a step ahead. It’s not hard to make a big difference quickly these days, so it could also be people getting that gratification sooner and moving on. But it is a challenge.

What are the top attributes modern marketing leaders need to lead today?

Firstly, you need the ability to collaborate and know marketing doesn’t have all the answers. You’re one voice in the business. But if the people in the organisation don’t believe in what we have to say, the message won’t get out there. Collaborating and aligning internally is therefore key.

There’s also something around healthy tension. There’s a lot of talk around whether to bring everything in-house versus doing it yourself. Being challenged by other parties is really healthy in the evolution of the brand.

As we’ve been on the journey with our new brand, we brought in an agency to get a fresh face to embrace what the new looks like. It’s hard when you have a team who’ve been working with a certain brand for a long time to get it and move on straight away. Working with an agency showed the team what’s possible.

As marketers, I also worry we are losing the ability to trust our guts. We now use data as a measure for everything – success as well as why we do something. I was attracted to marketing because I just if something felt right or not.

Trusting your gut is often where best work gets done and where the best work happens.

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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