The ABC is part of most Aussies’ lives – at one time or another. So how does the broadcaster tailor its content across generations and geographies? Leisa Bacon, Director of Audiences for the ABC, shares the national icon’s brand story and marketing journey.
Eighty per cent of Australians trust the ABC above all other media. It’s been a fixture in almost every Aussie’s life from Bananas in Pyjamas, Play School, and Blinky Bill all the way through to Behind The News, QandA, and Four Corners. No matter who you are, there’s ABC content that caters specifically for you.
Of course, when you’re a national broadcaster like the ABC and you put out a lot of content, it’s pushed out across a lot of channels.
So, how do you deliver a cohesive customer journey, and how do you ensure your messages and content reach people in all walks of life?
Leisa Bacon, Director of Audiences at the ABC, is responsible for the customer journey across the broadcaster’s numerous distribution channels – channels that have been evolving over the last couple of decades. She’s helping the ABC evolve from a traditional broadcasting model to an audience-centred, digital-native content creator.
“I think the challenge for ABC has been that we’re here for everybody, so we need to appeal to all Australians,” Leisa said.
“At the moment we reach 70% of Australia on a weekly basis. So that’s 30% of Australia that we don’t have. There’s still a few people out there. Three in ten people that I need to attract with a particular content offer because we want to reach all Australians.”
Her role centres on ensuring that the ABC’s audiences remain at the centre of everything the ABC does.
“My team is responsible for making sure that everything that we do, we’re doing with an audience focus,” Leisa said.
In fact, her role was specifically created for her to seek out people that the ABC doesn’t reach and create strategies to address them.
Drawing on their legacy as one of Australia’s most important forces in the evolution of Australian homegrown broadcasting, the ABC is looking to the future.
“Fast-forward about ten years, and we found that the main way people would interact with us would be digital and would be cross platform,” Leisa said.
“So what we needed to start to understand was how audiences would move across platforms. How we make those journeys be easier for them and how we better line up the content so that if you’re really interested in something, we have a really easy pathway for you into something else,” she said.
The most important thing Leisa believes she’s learned over the last few years is not to rely on your previous learnings, because the industry is changing so quickly.
“Audience behaviour is moving so quickly that what you used to think was the formula for success, is no longer the formula for success.” she said.
“I think increasingly as a marketer, you have to make sure that you’re treating every campaign as a separate opportunity to talk to people. In fact, there is no formula for success anymore,” Leisa said.
Lifelong learning is one of Leisa’s great passions. She encourages her team to “always get out there”, have new experiences and try to shake things up every so often.
“The real success stories come from treating every single customer as special. Every single campaign as special and new. And thinking about what is the right way to reach an audience with the information and data that you have,” Leisa said.
Tune in to this episode of the new and improved CMO Show, as Mark and Nicole talk AI recommendation engines, post-it notes and binge watching.
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The CMO Show production team
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Transcript: Leisa Bacon on marketing the ABC
Hosts: Mark Jones and Nicole Manktelow
Guest: Leisa Bacon
Nicole Manktelow: Welcome to the CMO show. I’m your host, Nicole Manktelow.
Mark Jones: And I’m Mark Jones.
Nicole Manktelow: And we are talking to one of the biggest brands in Australian cultural identity, the ABC.
Mark Jones: I’d have to say it’s the biggest brand in national broadcasting.
Nicole Manktelow: Well, yes.
Mark Jones: It is the ABC and our wonderful guest today is Leisa Bacon, who’s director of audiences at ABC.
Nicole Manktelow: Oh my God. What an amazing job this woman has, in charge of all of that customer journey across numerous platforms and platforms that have been evolving over the last couple of decades to be more varied than ever. Incredible task and wonderful insight. I feel like me and you, you’re a bit of a fan of the old public broadcaster? It’s nice to talk to somebody about the job, getting those communication all sorted out across the different platforms.
Mark Jones: Exactly right. And I’ve got to say, those of us in marketing, one of our biggest challenges is segmentation, this quest for our persona. Who are we reaching a bit hurt? Her problem of course is that, well, I’m reaching everybody. Everybody’s different. Right through the generations and different platforms. So this concept of fragmentation from a channel point of view, technology point of view, and just the sheer diversity of interests in the Australian community. This is actually her problem.
Nicole Manktelow: Also storytelling. How do you get a story to thread throughout. So while you’re trying to segment your market, you’re also trying to tell a story that exists across different platforms.
Mark Jones: Right. So if nothing else, one of the things you might get out of today’s show is that your job so much easier.
Nicole Manktelow Mine?
Mark Jones: Speaking to our dear listeners.
Nicole Manktelow: Undoubted, well, we hope it is because I think her job is pretty hard.
Mark Jones: Exactly right. Let’s hear from Leisa Bacon.
Mark Jones: Let’s start at the top which is your title Director of Audiences. There’s a strong plural there and I’m curious to know what the audiences look like.
Leisa Bacon: First of all, let me take a step back and say why. Why do I have a title that’s Director of Audiences? And I think it was a tangible decision our managing director made when she came in. She did a bit of a shake up of the executive ranks at ABC, and said she really wanted audiences to be at the centre of everything we do. And she wanted to make sure that somebody was responsible for ensuring that happened. So, that became me.
Leisa Bacon: So what that really means is my team’s responsible for making sure that everything that we do, we’re doing with an audience focus. So whether it’s commissioning decisions whether it’s marketing activities whether it’s how we research our audiences it’s all being done with the context of the people who listen and consume our products. It’s really important to us. And I want to understand them.
Nicole Manktelow: I’ve got to ask this silly, silly question. You’ve been a broadcaster for donkey’s years haven’t audiences always been that important?
Leisa Bacon: A great question. I think it’s fair to say for a long time content makers were incredibly passionate about what they do. They’re very focused on what they do. And don’t get me wrong they normally have a very loyal following. Particularly if you take something like radio. I think the challenge for ABC going forward has been we’re here for everybody so we need to appeal to all Australians.
Leisa Bacon: So we need to be consciously looking at people we don’t reach and have strategies for those. The main focus for me is looking at who don’t we currently talk to and let’s develop strategies to reach those. It’s probably a more holistic thing. Not just looking at the content we make but what content should we make and who is that for?
Nicole Manktelow: Well there goes my question because I was going to ask you how many actual audiences do you have but you’re actually counting the ones you don’t have yet.
Leisa Bacon: I’m trying to. So at the moment we reach 70% of Australia on a weekly basis. So that’s 30% of Australia that we don’t have. And that’s thinking about all of our platforms. So that 70% crosses TV radio and all our digital platforms. So there’s still a few people out there. Three in ten people that I need to attract with a particular content offer because we want to reach all Australians.
Mark Jones:It’s quite an interesting team you mentioned marketing, and content development and research and so on. How do you organise all of that. You’re an internal agency is that the way to think of it?
Leisa Bacon: Yeah look we have an internal agency. It’s part of that team. We have an internal creative agency called ABC Made who are fantastic. Kudos to our Creative Director at the moment who’s just come back from winning an award in New York. But we also have I guess think of them as shared services where we work across the content division. So we do research for all the content divisions.
Leisa Bacon: We obviously do marketing across all the different types of content that we do. We also look at I guess the end-to-end audience experience. So we do a lot of journey mapping. We do a lot of more design and development to look at the different pathways and make sure it’s easy and seamless for our audience as possible.
Mark Jones: We’re asking lots of I guess it might seem obvious questions to you but it’s really an interesting type of role. It’s quite unique isn’t it? That sort of the thing doesn’t typically function in large organisations to the extent that possibly you do.
Leisa Bacon: I think that’s a good observation. So the previous managing director when I started he actually created the role. Prior to that it was very siloed so the marketing teams and designers et cetera worked across each of the divisions, and then he brought me in to bring everyone together and take a whole of ABC approach.
Leisa Bacon: Knowing that in the future, so fast-forward about ten years, the main way people would interact with us would be digital and would be cross platform. So what we needed to start to understand was how audiences would move across platforms. How we make those journeys be easier for them and how we better line up the content so that if you’re really interested in something we have a really easy pathway for you into something else.
Leisa Bacon: So it was I guess started with the future in mind. I wouldn’t say it hasn’t been without its challenges. With any big organisation there’s a lot of different cultures in different divisions. So you’re bringing people together and they’re continuing to work with different cultures throughout ABC. But it’s certainly been an interesting journey.
Mark Jones: Who would be your main stakeholders that you work with across the business so outside of your team?
Leisa Bacon: Yeah the content directors, so we have three content directors. One for news, one for entertainment and specialist and one for regional and local. They’re the main stakeholders for pretty much my whole team. And they are fantastic. They’re very passionate content makers.
Leisa Bacon: They have great teams. And you know with all things a lot of what we have to do is work out what the priorities are and we do our prioritisation relative to the size of audience and the impact that we can make. Sometimes that’s slightly different to have how they’re setting priorities so we spent a lot of time on that alignment and making sure we’re both achieving the right things for ABC.
Nicole Manktelow: I’m curious about one, the massive cultural difference that I can only imagine there is between say Grandstand and the people who make Play School. That sort of audience variation, demographics, the whole thing. The way they consume when they consume that’s not a small task. Have you come up against push back from internal stakeholders?
Leisa Bacon: Look I think it’s fair to say we’re on a journey. While I’m the biggest advocate for what I call a master brand approach so I’m very passionate. The ABC sort of sits at the top of everything that we do and is therefore the most important thing that we do. Making sure people understand our content is from the ABC is as important as that particular programme because from a search perspective and how you will ultimately discover and find content that will become more and more important. That being said we have brands that sit under that which are from a trust and a value in a particular audience perspective as strong as the ABC in some aspects. One of those brands is kids. So ABC Kids it talks to a particular audience. It does it in a particular way, and we will never lose sight of that. That being said the access point for that brand is parents, and we have other content for those parents. So helping those parents understand the other things the ABC offers is part of my job and what’s really important. So it’s more taking the approach that the ABC has lots of content for people and our job is to help you understand the other content you might be interested in beyond just what you came to us for. So it’s not trying to in any way compromise the offer for each of those sub brands that sit underneath the programme brands but it’s saying if we have the whole of ABC approach we can find more things for our audience to enjoy and that’s got to be a better outcome.
Mark Jones: My head hurts just thinking about that actually.
Nicole Manktelow: I was trying to imagine all of the things that you do as post-it notes on a wall. And the wall was really big in my mind was thinking about plotting out all of the touch points all of the ways you can get the content and all the audiences.
Leisa Bacon: You know it’s funny you say that because journey mapping we do with post-it notes.
Nicole Manktelow: That’s a big wall.
Leisa Bacon: It is a huge wall. So a whole if you ever come visit me in the office I would encourage you to, we have a whole wall it used to be one you could write on and then I discovered the best of way of doing it was post-it notes because you can take them on and off. We do a lot of our journey mapping so if somebody’s coming in here what might be the next pathway that we want to take them on? And I have a great team of experience designers and they specialise in this and they are so good at it. But they live with post-it notes. So we have a lot of post-it notes.
Nicole Manktelow: Right now I’m feeling the retro love. I feel endorsed. I feel…
Mark Jones: You’re feeling the analogue validation aren’t you?
Nicole Manktelow: Absolutely.
Mark Jones: I wonder whether the metaphor for that post-it note wall is the Netflix recommendation engine. Like you might be interested in this. Are you looking to sort of replicate that from a user perspective internally? Is that where you’re going?
Leisa Bacon: I don’t think there’d be any marketer in the world at the moment who doesn’t look at Netflix somewhat enviously. And so they’re very much the gold standard in how do recommendations algorithms. Look we are in the area at the moment if you go to our video on iView a story in news one of our podcasts we will often have an onward journey which is a recommendation based on either what’s trending or what other people like you might enjoy but we’re a long way off where they are.
Mark Jones: Yeah right.
Leisa Bacon: And on top of that we have more breadth of content so some of our journeys aren’t going to be direct as that. And therefore, we need to think a bit differently because the ABC is a multi-platform broadcaster. We don’t just have video content and we’re really keen for our audiences to understand more about what we do as a whole.
Leisa Bacon: So how we make that more practical and seamless that’s a challenge we haven’t found anyone else has cracked. So that’s where we’re mainly doing a lot of our journey mapping. It’s not just like for like content. It’s thinking about so if you’ve just enjoyed, we just launched a podcast Unravel. If you really liked that podcast we actually have news stories. We have some video content. How do we help you find that other content in a really seamless way?
Nicole Manktelow: So I’ve noticed on that radio for example the breakfast announcers will talk about the podcasts that are happening. I wouldn’t say it’s promotion but I think-
Mark Jones: It’s cross promo.
Nicole Manktelow: … it’s more acknowledgment of the content of around there and binge watching. You can actually do that now.
Mark Jones: 10:20 Hooray. Binge on the ABC.
Nicole Manktelow: 10:20 But you’re hedging your bets. Right? Because there are people who still like to get together and watch something on a particular night. And yet you can still do that as well. I heard that you’ve launched something – binge content online? Or you could just watch the movie pilot that night.
Leisa Bacon: 10:47 Yeah so I think increasingly I don’t think of it as hedging our bets. I think of it as appealing to different audiences. So if I take something like Mystery Road we launched Mystery Road a couple of weeks ago on a Sunday night. Great audience one of the top rated shows for the night, but we also put all those episodes binge back-to-back that night. And we had whole different audience come in and literally watch back-to-back episodes of Mystery Road. In fact, I was saying to the producer the other night, I couldn’t believe how many people must have stayed up all night watching that show. Because by the next morning we had people viewing all six episodes.
Leisa Bacon: 11:23 So it’s like wow there’s a completely different behaviour out there. Obviously a different demographic because a lot of us can’t stay up all night watching TV. So I think it’s different audiences and increasingly at the ABC we want to make sure we’re reaching more people. So we’ve got to have the right offer for the right audience. And that’s often a different platform offer.
Leisa Bacon: 11:43 So the podcast example so sometimes you either miss the show that you want to listen or there’s different context experience like you’re on the bus to work and therefore how do we provide that content for you in way you can consume it? So podcasting as you well know as exemplified here it’s a big and emerging platform because it fulfils a need that live radio can’t always fulfil. You’re travelling you don’t always have radio access but you still want to listen to audio content. We want to make sure we have the right offer for you in the right context.
Mark Jones: It strikes me that as you think through all these new ways that audiences will consume content. In ways that we haven’t really imagined yet. There’s an infinite number of possibilities and so I have to ask the obviously AI question.
Mark Jones: How do you imagine the technology will help shape that because there will be, if you feel like, a learning platform that goes on behind the scenes on all this. You’re taking all this data, what people watch maybe even give them an opportunity to create an account where they can in a Netflix style start training it. The whole permission thing and how far down that path are you? At least in your thinking and planning?
Leisa Bacon: Yeah look you can sign on now on many of the ABC products but we don’t yet have the value proposition to make it like an increasingly a bigger part of the ABC experience at the moment. So what we’re doing behind the scenes is making sure that we have the right recommendation engines, the content for bringing. Everything set up so when we get to the point that it’s optional that you sign on, you want to because you know the value exchange for signing on will mean that the content experience is so much better.
Leisa Bacon: We’re not in that position yet. But are we working on that? Of course we are. I would say anyone involved in digital content at the moment is working on that if not somewhere down the track and I do think to your point the AI engines that will operate in the background once you have sign on and once you understand the different types of content someone’s consuming so you can actually surface more of that content that’s just going to be a space that grows and grows and grows.
Leisa Bacon: And we’re certainly building the back end for that. I guess the challenge for organisations like us and content providers though is unlike Netflix that rely heavily on a very big back catalogue so much of our content is fresh and new each week. And recommendations engines to date are primarily built on behaviour. So here’s a behaviour that we’ve seen before and therefore let’s surface other content that represents that behaviour. When things are always new and always changing it actually adds a completely different dynamic. We’re still looking at what does that mean and it might just simply be about how you take content relative to genres and other things of interest but it becomes less behaviour based and tag based so there’s a few things to work through that.
Nicole Manktelow: Yeah I’m curious how much historical behaviour you need in order to make a decent recommendation. How much of that and making sure the people who are tagging the content are being granular enough and also sticking to it. In any media organisation tagging you’re in hurry and it’s like ‘just shove just stick crime on it’ and off you go.
Mark Jones: Be consistent.
Nicole Manktelow: Not really sufficient.
Leisa Bacon: Yeah and that is going to be one of the big challenges again for all media organisations. I mean you’re recommendations engine will only be as good as your ability to tag your content in consistent ways, which means having really good training for all your content makers who are putting in all that content and really good systems to actually serve that up. But look there are many challenges in this area for all of us. This is probably one of the easier ones to solve. I think there are some bigger ones.
Nicole Manktelow: Okay. What are they?
Mark Jones: Well you certainly got our … yeah what are they?
Leisa Bacon: Data privacy I think is a really big thing. And really understanding what people will want in the future as they become more and more aware of what our organisations have been doing with their data and therefore, wanting to manage and control their own data.
Leisa Bacon: We have a new data privacy officer because obviously there are new regulations coming in from July 1. And we’ve been looking at being really clear with our audience members exactly what data we would keep and giving them options as well so we’re doing a lot of work in that space. What we’re building in is how audiences use our platforms and what we use them for.
Mark Jones: Along those lines though talk to us a little bit about marketing because obviously marketing still just as important to the ABC as it is for any organisation. In the context of really diverse audiences and these platforms, how does it work? What do you do? I think of it as a lot of it is quite useful in the sense that other shows that you might like to know about what’s coming up a new programme, a new series or whatever ostensibly cross promotional activities how do you plan for that how do you think about it?
Leisa Bacon: Yeah so we make so much content at the ABC so the first thing is we prioritise. And we prioritise relative scale of audience and also the earlier point I mentioned we’re often trying to find unique audiences. Audiences that don’t frequently come to the ABC. So if we have content that’s going to appeal to unique audiences that also helps with our prioritisation. We produce way too much content to be marketing all of it. So the prioritisation process, a really important process.
Leisa Bacon: For the whole team and then once we’ve set priorities the really priorities we call them national conversations so we want everyone talking about them. So they’re cross platform. So when we’re planning out the marketing activity for those it’s thinking about how do we best use our own platform so our biggest marketing asset is our own platforms. We have airtime obviously on TV, on radio, we have some digital assets. We have some E-News. We have a lot social assets. So we very much think holistically about all of the ABC touch points and how do we best map out the journey to discover the content.
Mark Jones: Could we use an example. The Employable Me Show which was just fantastic and I’m completely biassed because my brother-in-law was one of the people profiled from Xceptional, an agency they employ people actually software development firm that employs people on the spectrum, Autism spectrum. And obviously I saw a lot of the promotions from that from a family point of view because I knew it was coming up but then I started seeing it everywhere. Right? And it was clearly a national conversation. It was on radio. It was on TV it was on the digital. It was on the social. It was everywhere. Right? So using that as example how did you orchestrate all of that? What’s the thinking that goes into it?
Leisa Bacon: Yeah Employable Me is an interesting one because it’s an amazing piece of content. And it’s really important issue that we wanted a lot of people to be aware of. So it’s the kind of thing that really for me makes a public broadcaster. So we wanted everybody to be talking about it. So we just look at what is the best way for us to ensure that audiences can hear about it and find this type of content. So we do a lot with, we have an amazing in-house publicity team and they very much look at who are the right people to talk about this both our own on air presenters as well as well external and with a show like employable me we were amazed at the response we got. A lot of what you’re talking about is actually the publicity efforts that were generated because once people became aware of the content they thought, “Wow this is so good.” This is the sort of thing more and more organisations should be doing.
Leisa Bacon: So we had a lot of publicity around both form our own on air presenters but also a number of generally commercial presenters were happy to talk about that show. We also used our own media assets so if I think about how if something is a priority how we then map that out we sort of do owned, earned, paid. Paid is very little so I’m just going to focus on owned and earned. But owned is very much how do we map out that content across our own platform. So there were obviously promotions for our TV channel.
Leisa Bacon: We had some radio promotions. We certainly mentioned it in our E-Newsletters and we had a great campaign run by the publicity team to get the story out as far and wide as possible and we had content going out on a couple of our social platforms as well. So we were really looking at how do we build that as we get nearer to what we call the TX date. So the first on air date although again with a show like Employable Me a lot of the consumption for that show was on iView.
Leisa Bacon: So it sort of got a build to the TX or on air date but then once it’s gone on air most of our communication is directing you to iView because we want you to be able to catch up on watch it whenever you have time to. Our campaigns tend to be multi-pronged. It’s sort of building to a release date and then once it’s released it’s building up the digital platforms.
Mark Jones: Right. So in marketing parlance we’d probably say it was a campaign launch.
Leisa Bacon: Yes.
Mark Jones: Okay, well that’s really interesting to hear just the sheer complexity of that just form a channels point of view is a really interesting example of how to thread a narrative through so many different communication platforms. This one of the biggest challenges we face in marketing.
Mark Jones: Have you got a question you’d like us to answer on the show? Just tweet us @TheCMOShow or #TheCMOShow. We’d love to hear from you.
Candice Witton: Hey guys, it’s Candice your producer here. Today I talk to three individuals, three generations of Australians on their relationship with the ABC. we’re taking a little trip down memory lane.
Sue: My name is Sue Elks and I’m 62 years of age.
Candice Witton: When did you first start watching the ABC?
Sue: I think when my parents first got a television in the late 1950s, we were living in Sydney in Maroubra and we were the first people in out street to get a television. I remember every Sunday night, all the neighbours would come into watch the television.
Sue: I just love when Countdown came along. I was in my late teens and it was just a revelation. It showed all the new music, all the young bands and of course it led then to going and seeing a lot of live bands as well.
Sue: I then transferred a lot to radio and that was fantastic. When the children were young I used to go to classic FM radio and listen to all the classic pieces which was great because it sent the kids to sleep.
Sue: The first thing is, as soon as I get up, I turn on the ABC radio national and hear all the latest news. Depending on what I’m going to do, if I want a very calm, serene time in the morning, I’ll put on a classic FM. If I’m going to cook, which I love doing, I put on Triple J. And then at night, I’ll always tune in to the ABC news.
Kate Elks: Hi, my name is Kate and I’m 36.
Kate Elks: I’ve been watching the ABC since I was a kid. Like most Australians, I think. We lived on the side of a hill and we didn’t actually get TV reception, so Dad would have to get on the roof with the aerial and fiddle around to sometimes pick up channel 10. Apart from that it was just ABC. I watched Play School. I still remember Noni Hazlehurst. And I also watched Rage religiously growing up.
Kate Elks: These days I listen to, or consume the ABC in loads of ways. So I still watch ABC TV, but I watch it via the app. On my smart TV. I live stream Triple J whenever I’m working from home. I also listen to Triple J in the car, long may it live. It’s still a brand that I’m, you know, hugely, hugely fond of and I’m really stoked that I’m also passing that onto my son.
Kate Elks: So in an average day, the ABC kind of goes wherever I am. So I might start the day, don’t judge me, by putting something on the app for my son to watch before we go to school and then I listen to Triple J in the car, when I get to the office I might be listening to a podcast via probably via iTunes and then Triple J again in the car on the way home. And maybe some iView after dinner. So ABC everywhere I am all the time.
Alex Elks: Hi my name’s Alex and I’m three. It’s breakfast time. This is daddy’s iPad. This one’s the ABC. I can choose this one
Candice Witton: So there we have it, a bit of an insight into how the ABC, a legacy organisation, has evolved from a traditional broadcaster into a more audience-centric, multi-platform part of everyday Australian life. Let’s hand back to Mark and Nicole who talk to Lisa more about the evolution of ABC iView.
Nicole Manktelow: I just wanted to call out iView is ten years-old.
Leisa Bacon: Yes.
Nicole Manktelow: And to me I still feel like it’s relatively new and I guess it is But ten years I feel like a lot of the other broadcasters and media outlets stull playing with a digital platform still coming up with names for their products still trying to figure out what they might deliver. But iView is really kind of got its couch groove in.
Leisa Bacon: Look I personally love iView and I’m not sure if you’ve been on in the last week but we’ve launched our new look and feel for iView when you go on. It’s a lot cleaner. It’s beautiful. And so even though you’ve launched any digital product you continue to have iterate and build over time. The product that was iView ten years ago is very different to the product that’s iView today.
Leisa Bacon: And I would hope that it’s a far better audience experience today. We also over the years have released tailored options of iView for different audiences so obviously you’ve got iView for kids and you’ve got Made which are a more tailored video experience for a specific audience and you can tell for example when you go into the kids’ iView that it’s all about colours and bigger images you don’t really have to read as much it’s much easier for you to navigate through.
Nicole Manktelow: The app that my two-year-old loves on my phone which is the kids’ appropriate which is Yellow which plays Hey Dougie. Is that iView?
Leisa Bacon: Yes. That’s our kids’ iView.
Nicole Manktelow: We don’t know about what it is we just know it’s the Yellow one and we press that and happiness flows.
Leisa Bacon: And it’s a really lovely safe environment too. I get a lot of feedback when we go out and talk to different audience members and some of the best feedback you get is from mums going it’s so nice to have a safe environment where I can just put my kid down I know that they can watch a few videos and they’re not going to come across any difficult content.
Mark Jones: If you were to think about some advice you might have for other CMOs. We think a lot about customers whereas you think about audiences and in my mind they’re the same thing, particularly if you’re producing content as a big brand and you know that form previous work experience of your own. So what would your advice be given what you’ve learned about the sheer complexity there must be a few threads of wisdom that come through all of that.
Leisa Bacon: Yeah look my biggest learning certainly in the last few years has been not to rely on the things that you previously learnt because the industry is moving so quickly. Audience behaviour consumer behaviour is moving so quickly that what you used to think was the formula for success, you know your 30 second ad at an average frequency of three that’s no longer the formula for success. And I think increasingly as a marketer you have to make sure that you’re treating every campaign as a separate opportunity to talk to people and making sure that you interrogate what you are doing and why you’re doing it and who your audience is and the context that they’re in and the best way to reach them and not thinking there’s a magic formula.
Leisa Bacon: Because there isn’t. The real success stories that you see play out when people have actually taken the time to actually think about what they’re trying to do and create a completely new pathway or a complete new way of doing things and I think that’s where real success comes from. It comes from treating every single customer as special. Every campaign as special and new. And thinking about what is the right way to reach that audience with that particular information. Understanding with all the data that you now have, a lot more about where they are and what they’re doing and being contextually important to them.
Leisa Bacon: I’m very passionate about what I call sort of lifelong learning with my team. You’ve got to always be out there. You’ve got to trial new things. So we have a 70-20-10 rule. So 70% of a campaign can be traditionally how we map it out. 20% should be trying something that is a bit new. And 10% go for gold. Just do something we’ve never done. Really experiment because that is the only way that you create really great ideas. You give people permission do something that’s completely new that doesn’t have to have an ROI because not everything will. And sometimes you’ve got to get a couple of learnings to develop a new way of doing something.
Mark Jones: And hopefully that’s where you’ll find these hidden audience members.
Leisa Bacon: Completely yeah. Very much so.
Mark Jones: Yeah that’s great.
Nicole Manktelow: How do you empower your staff to come up with the crazy 10%? I’m going to say crazy because you’re trying to get them outside the box. I hate that phrase. Nevermind. How do you empower them for that to say okay I think we should be doing augmented reality or we should do an event and it needs to be something quite different. How do you say of go for it?
Leisa Bacon: We have a, the great thing about the ABC is we have a really very creative culture. So generally people who work there are working there because they are very passionate about what they do and they really love the content. So it’s actually not hard to get them to come up with create ideas if anything they often come up with these amazing ideas wow you want to this? That’s fantastic. That may be difficult.
Leisa Bacon: So I’ve never had the trouble of not being able to get them to come up with great ideas. We do a lot of brainstorming. So before we launch a campaign we bring everyone together we do a briefing on the content and then everyone gets to come up with crazy ideas. And some of the ideas that come out of that are amazing but we if anything we often don’t have the money or the resource to do that because we have quite a lot of content so we try to do these small scale experiments.
Nicole Manktelow: There’s a great happy smile on your face. Obviously it’s part of the perk of the job.
Leisa Bacon: It is.
Mark Jones: Well I reckon we could probably keep asking you questions for the rest of the day given how interesting the subject matter and the brand but I think we should wrap it up. I don’t know if you’ve been warned but we do have rapid fire questions where we get to know you a little bit.
Nicole Manktelow: The spotlight goes on. And we make it very intense.
Leisa Bacon: Okay.
Mark Jones: We’ll just race through a few if you’re ready for that.
Leisa Bacon: Okay.
Mark Jones: What’s your greatest frustration?
Leisa Bacon: Time. I never have enough.
Nicole Manktelow: Clearly.
Leisa Bacon: By the time you do your job and because so much of my job is also understanding the content and I have a seven year-old and a husband managing my time is literally the hardest thing that I find every day. My greatest frustration is I don’t have enough of it. I need more. I need more hours.
Mark Jones: And if there’s one thing you could change about marketing or media what would it be?
Leisa Bacon: I think I would want people that go into marketing today to realise that it’s so much more than marketing perse. Your job is to understand consumers and to do everything you can to meet their needs. Traditionally how we thought about marketing which is more advertising. I think that’s a thing of the past.
Leisa Bacon: And the better that you come out of university or work my job is to really understand people and really make sure that everything I do with my organisation is built on that basis to best meet their needs and better serve their needs. I think you’d have a better starting point where as too many people still think of marketing as it’s the advertising. For me it’s not it. It’s really understanding people. And if you really understand people then you can do an awesome job. But you’ve got to invest that time and effort up front.
Mark Jones: That’s fantastic.
Nicole Manktelow: It was such a pleasure to speak with you.
Mark Jones: Yes thank you so much.
Leisa Bacon: So lovely to meet you. Thank you
Mark Jones: Leisa Bacon, Director of Audiences ABC, thank you so much again for being our guest on the CMO Show.
Leisa Bacon: Thanks guys lovely to meet you.
Mark Jones: Leisa Bacon, how about that?
Nicole Manktelow: Oh my God. She’s amazing. The amount of content that woman consumes, I don’t know how she fits it in, into a single 24 hour period. That’s a lot of stories.
Mark Jones: Yeah. I’m still reflecting on this sort of diversity of audience and segmenting that and the data that you need. And I think really the journey that she’s going on to try and make sense of it all.
Nicole Manktelow: I find it fascinating that they can, imagine having a goal where you’ve already got about 70 percent of everyone and you’re just trying to reach the 30 left. And that’s, I dunno, I just find that really fascinating.
Mark Jones: And you know, I’ve talked to other marketers about this problem. It’s the, I’ve got to keep my existing audience and customers happy, and then there’s this untapped, the great unwashed, those who don’t yet, you know, view, watch, consume our content, or buy our product.
Nicole Manktelow: But for God’s sake, don’t take your hands off the wheel for the other 70 percent.
Mark Jones: Exactly. Right. Because we have emotions and feelings, right? This is the ABC after all.
Nicole Manktelow: Very deeply, deeply feeling emotions.
Mark Jones: So brand loyalty really matters. You know, we think and feel, in fact, I got to say, just as an aside, my parents and my in-laws, they have really deep feelings about the ABC, right? Some of the conversations are like, oh, the content’s changed. It’s not what it used to be, you know. Where’s all my old English dramas…
Nicole Manktelow: Just changing the kinds of subjects covered in, say the radio programming across regional Australia has been very contentious.
Mark Jones: Right.
Nicole Manktelow: People, they care.
Mark Jones: Right. So being able to sort of balance this kind of traditional and also, you know, audience and then you know what’s coming in the future and how to… It’s complicated.
Nicole Manktelow: But also she’s got this wonderful opportunity to play with things like binge watching. Because you can run a show on television and have people turn up for the event of, you know, it’s all every night that particular night of the week, but then you can also give them the luxury of just getting into it right now.
Mark Jones: So thank you very much for joining us on this episode of the CMO show. It’s great to have you with us. As always, please do subscribe and tell your friends. And until next time.
Mark Jones: One of the interesting things that I’m reflecting on about the ABC is this question of loyalty. Howard Schultz says, if people believe they share values with a company they will stay loyal to the brand. And I’ve got to say as a kid who grew up on Play School and all sorts of programmes, it’s been this formative brand from the very beginning for me, and it carries through to today, and I suspect for many of you as well. So how do you take that idea of brand loyalty and not forgetting the past, not forgetting the history of your customers. And what are the things that are most important to them. How can you retain that heritage and how can you build on it to create something new?
Mark Jones: The CMO Show is a podcast produced by Filtered Media and a quick shoutout to our incredible team Candice Witton, Charlotte Goodwin, Ewan Miller…
Nicole Manktelow: …and our engineering wizards: Tom Henderson and Daniel Marr.
Mark Jones: You guys are the best!