CMO50 2022 #5: Charlotte Valente

  • Name Charlotte Valente
  • Title Chief marketing officer
  • Company Seven West Media
  • Commenced role October 2019
  • Reporting Line Chief executive officer and managing director
  • Member of the Executive Team Yes
  • Marketing Function 120 staff, 5 direct reports
  • Industry Sector Media and entertainment
  • 2021 ranking New to CMO50
  • Related

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    Charlotte Valente is a woman who knows her own mind and where she’s going. “I never look back. Every road I have taken has led me to where I am today, and I am extremely grateful for that. I have no regrets,” she says.

    Informing her career and leadership approach is a belief in stepping outside one’s comfort zone. “I strive to ensure we foster an environment and culture where people feel safe to share thoughts and ideas, challenge the status quo and contribute to change. Without bravery we cannot evolve,” she continues.  

    That doesn’t mean doing it all on your own, however, and Valente maintains a healthy respect for data giving marketing leaders the confidence – and evidence – to act on gut feel. “When you think about it, intuition draws on both objective and subjective information, so to some extent, gut feel is data-driven. Bottom line: You need a healthy balance of both,” she says.

    As CMO of Seven West Media, Valente has had a wealth of opportunity to exhibit these attributes as she’s helped the media broadcasting giant achieve unparalleled years of results off the back of tentpole events such as the Tokyo Olympics, Commonwealth Games, AFL plus strong shows like The Voice and Farmer Wants a Wife. This year, the ASX-listed group reported EBITDA of $342 million, up 35 per cent year-on-year. Within this, Seven Network reported its best pre-tax earnings in 11 years, while digital leapt 129 per cent to $139 million, representing 40 per cent of group earnings. This is largely thanks to an unprecedented 233 per cent growth in registered users (13.5 million) on the group’s streaming service, 7plus.

    Seven Network also became number one for total TV in Australia, boasting a 39.1 per cent revenue share off the back of record-breaking ratings in 2021.  

    Innovative marketing

    A highlight Valente points to is leading the national marketing campaign for Seven’s record-breaking coverage of the Tokyo Olympics, which became the biggest streaming and viewing event in Australian history with more than 20 million watching on Seven and 7plus. She attributes success to an exhaustive data strategy, 12 months in the making, with the group’s entire 5.8m 7plus database filtered to construct detailed audience profiles and viewing preferences across demographics, life-stage, psychographics and attitudinal data points. This informed robust customer segments the team could then target with relevant, personalised and engaging content.

    For lapsed audiences, segments into Seven’s Marketing Cloud were built to deliver maximum re-engagement. This helped Seven gain 1 billion additional minutes of streaming, with a single EDM securing 80,000 new registrations to watch the Matildas. And that was before the Olympics even started, Valente says.

    “Data was used in real time to drive huge audiences to sports they wanted to see and allow advertisers a previously unavailable addressable advertising opportunity to reach more highly defined audiences than ever before,” she says.

    Complementing this were more than 400 pieces of creative assets, as well as a local broadcasting first with TikTok on a daily live show to attract younger viewers to the brand.

    Results included network audience share of 60 per cent, with viewers up 70 per cent from the previous Olympics. 7plus delivered the biggest streaming event to date with 4.74 billion minutes – ahead of Seven’s target of 1 billion minutes. Notably, the group saw a 44 per cent rise in registered, verified digital users to 9.2m.

    “The same data-driven marketing was used for the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games to achieve further record streaming figures and ad revenues for both events,” Valente adds.

    Data-driven maturity

    Underpinning Seven’s growing data prowess and deep audience understanding is 7REDiQ, its customer data platform. Using people-based information, this is profiling audiences against factors such as life stage, household composition, location, affluency and ethnicity. The technology was Valente’s brainchild and is now influencing strategy from how shows are being cast and programs produced to go-to-market strategies.

    “I championed the need for data capture insights across the business to set new standards for marketing effectiveness, drive record levels of digital revenue and enhance the consumer experience,” Valente explains. “I set out a clear vision for the platform to be cutting-edge and bring data to life as never before through advanced visuals – this is no black box.”

    In the last 18 months, digital inventory sold with data overlay has grown from 30 per cent to 85 per cent, while digital ad revenue on 7plus increased by 92 per cent against broadcast growth of 20 per cent. More than 2500 brands are tapping data sets for addressable reach.

    “Nothing exemplifies the seismic shift 7REDiQ has caused more than the ROI for our Olympics marketing strategy which yielded average cost per acquisition of $0.23 – 78 per cent lower than benchmark and 2.6x higher than forecast traffic,” Valente says. “I used the same data marketing for the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games to achieve record streaming figures and ad revenues for both.”

    Valente has additionally been uniting data sets with brave and bold thinking to pursue more innovative and original marketing campaigns. For example, data intelligence shook up Seven’s EDM strategy, leading to a 498.8 per cent increase in volume, 100 per cent increase in open rates to 28.4 per cent and triple-digit increases in users driven directly to 7plus from email marketing.

    “It is a textbook example of an integrated and strategic marketing approach that succeeded on every single level,” Valente says.

    Commercial acumen

    At a more holistic level, Seven was crowned Australia’s Fastest Growing Brand by Brand Finance Australia in January 2022, with 78 per cent growth in brand value to $564m. Commercially, advertising revenue was up 27 per cent year-on-year.

    Valente points out over the last year, more than half of the 20 most watched TV shows were on Seven, including four of the top five. Momentum continued in 2022, with The Voice, for instance, having its biggest season launch since 2015 with a national audience of 1.91m views, up 24 per cent. SAS Australia also launched to 1.19m viewers, increasing its timeslot in the key 25 to 54 demographic by 141 per cent, while the AFL Grand Final achieved 4.1 million viewers.

    “For the first time in three years, Seven was the most watched television network. We shot back to number one in prime time with the highest total audience share since 2018,” Valente says.

    Business smarts

    Leading up to the stellar program of work, Valente conducted a brand review across every aspect of the business, creating a new brand blueprint.

    “I championed what the Seven brand and its content stood for and connected with, making the Seven brand more relevant for everyone across the business and empowering them to stay true to the brand,” Valente says. “My rebrand prompted other areas, including 7News, to review brand to better connect and engage with audiences.”

    A supporting data strategy then brought fresh understanding around audiences, which has since been adopted outside marketing. As Valente puts it, ‘audience centricity’ has become a key pillar in Seven’s corporate strategy and is even used by investors.

    Outside of brand, Valente’s other business initiatives rotate around her position as a gender and diversity champion. “I take pride in being in a position to lead and mentor the next generation of female leaders and helping women into leadership positions,” she comments. Today, 51 per cent of Seven’s leaders are women.

    Over the last 12 months, Valente has become an advocate for UN Women, signed Seven up to the Unstereotype Alliance, a conglomerate dedicated to breaking gender stereotypes in advertising, and created the ‘CMO SWM School’, an internal academy for speakers to share industry insights and personal journeys.

    Leadership impact

    Having organised 14 separate and previously siloed departments into one under her watch, Valente oversees more than 120 people across four divisions and multiple states today, many working remotely. Keeping staff aligned has been critical to marketing success in her three-year tenure.

    Helping Valente realise an engaged team are a suite of new recruitment guidelines across her department, including psychometric testing to eliminate unconscious bias, support for applicants with disabilities, a renewed focus on cultural, age and gender diversity and framework for ‘Women in Leadership’, awareness training for recruiters and revamped induction focused on context and innovation.

    “Diversity and inclusion are both very close to my heart, so I collaborated with my senior leaders to introduce new protocols, from inclusion and respect enshrined in culture to flexibility to accommodate differences, measurable objectives for gender diversity and introduction of two diversity-focused events each year,” Valente says. “Additionally, I launched a mentorship program open to the entire marketing team. Every single pairing completed six months and the feedback was 100 per cent positive. The 2022 scheme is underway with even more taking part.”

    She’s also well-aware of the importance of open communication and empowering people to make and own change.

    “I’ve designed a flat reporting structure that actively encourages everyone to pitch new ideas and feel supported,” Valente says. “Last year, all my senior managers underwent leadership training to help them re-engage their teams and build inclusive cultures after the stress and disruption of lockdowns.

    “Our team engagement scores have never been better and staff retention sits at 85 per cent, way above TV industry average.”


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