Jamie West is the former Deputy MD of Sky Media UK and Group Director of Advanced Advertising Sky. He helped build Sky into a power house in advanced advertising and TV ad sales renowned for addressable and video solutions.
Here are his 3 Tips for media businesses to #RecoverStronger over the next few months.
Tip #1: Use this time to reflect on the fundamentals
The impact of COVID lockdowns has meant that across the media sector we have been forced to reassess our approach to business from the ground up - whether that be how we work as teams, how we interact with existing clients or how we maximise business performance across sales, operating model, technology and partnerships.
Because periods of crisis tend to make us behave differently, instinctively adopting a more defensive and cautious posture, it’s my view that the best course of action is to use this time to press the pause button. Try not to knee jerk solutions and reflect on the important things:
- What do my customers need and how do I super-serve those needs? Customer first and driving for business outcomes are two phrases that should always be front of mind.
- How can I support my team and people through this crisis? They will all have personal journeys and new challenges that they need to overcome.
- Are there ways we can continue to improve how we operate as a business and a team? Creating new efficiencies that will enable an overall increase in speed of operations will go a long way in helping companies get through this pandemic.
While it’s tempting to just focus on short term tactical actions, businesses actually have an unprecedented opportunity to be brave and re-evaluate strategies for the longer term. In particular the traditional operating model of a media company now needs to be rearchitected for two reasons:
- With most people working remotely, automation, alerts and real time yet distanced collaboration are now key to not only retain and but also increase operational efficiency and overall productivity;
- Budgets will be trimmed of all fat. Every pound, dollar and euro will need to be taken off the table. The old operating models must be upgraded to leverage real time data and modern business intelligence tools to ensure every opportunity, no matter how minute, is capitalised on.
Tip #2: Empower teams with the right data and tools for real time monitoring and remote collaborating
Working from home, once an outlier trend, is now a mainstay setup. Water cooler chats, coffee break brainstorms and desk walk-bys are no longer. Being physically separate from your team and working virtually, oftentimes over poor connections, has introduced a new drag on team based work. Furthermore competition in the working day with distractions from housemates and family members means businesses need to develop new ways to retain their effectiveness.
Manually pulling week-old trading reports, holding monthly steering meetings and running your business from spreadsheets just doesn’t cut it anymore.
The world is too complex, dynamic and now remote for such basic and blunt tools.
Building a comprehensive system of real time dashboards powered by a single source of truth coupled with automated alerts and cross stack monitoring is now the difference between leading the market and following the market.
Growth now comes from people working smarter, not harder.
Tip #3: Look to improve 100 things by 1%
At a time when most media companies are battling with lower ad spend from marketeers and increased privacy measures from regulators, you must optimise what inventory you do have. This seems an obvious statement to make but you would be surprised how few companies are excelling in this area.
This is partly because of the very complex nature of digital video ad trading. There are so many potential points of failure that it sometimes leads to teams not knowing where to even look, let alone start.
Furthermore there is no more low lying fruit when it comes to capturing more video ad dollars / pounds / euros. In times of drought you need to dig the well much deeper.
The mindset of operational teams needs to shift towards improving many things by small margins. By focusing on making the best of what you have ensures business performance will continue to tick up without the need to expend scare resource and effort unnecessarily.
The catch is this can only be done with the proper tooling and analytic systems that integrate all components in the stack under one data umbrella.
For example increasing fill rates requires understanding of the dynamics from the interactions of many different systems like the ad server. video platform, SSP and verification vendors.
Or hunting down rogue creatives involves tunnelling the programmatic chain of many 3rd party handoffs.
Technical problem solving and business optimisation is now a multi dimensional challenge, requiring teams to mine deeper into the data than ever before.
And those pockets of opportunity, although more plentiful, are smaller and harder reach by hand alone.
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