Brian Gallagher on how SCA survived ‘monstrous’ year
Southern Cross Austereo’s (SCA) chief sales officer Brian Gallagher has described how the broadcast company navigated the challenges of 2020 – and emerged on the other side.
“It’s been a rocky year, I’d have to say, and I think all the things that we went through at the beginning of the year that we thought were monstrous were very quickly overshadowed by the thing that we’ve all had to go through which is obviously COVID. So it’s been a very disrupted year,” he told the AdNews and Boomtown event ‘Can Advertising Reignite Regional Australia?’
A lot of the work in 2020 for SCA, he said, was around helping local regional businesses through the challenges, as well as getting larger clients to extend their budgets to the regions.
This, he said, involved educating advertisers about regional messaging.
“The discovery for a lot of advertisers around regional markets isn’t so much about focusing on regional markets with a different type of creative or another message. I think the realisation that’s coming is essentially, they’re the same people, 9 million people out there, that are the same as the people that live in other metropolitan areas. And so the discovery that we’re embarking on with most of our new business into those regional markets is just simply emulating their strategy. There’s no major rationale behind changing the commercial message from those brands,” he explained.
The approach, he said, is proving extraordinarily successful.
“We’re having an extraordinary success at the moment converting non-regional media users to regional media usage, and it’s coming down to basics. It’s not complicated. It’s, ‘Your market share in Sydney is X, your market share in New South Wales, for example, is Y, and the difference is ‘Here you’re not advertising’. Where you’re advertising, you’re getting market share’.
“So there’s some really basic planning guidelines that I would suggest. That’s as big a trick as it needs to be. Really have a look at your market, see if you can get the data to segment the market share that you have, and act accordingly, because what you’ll generally find is what you don’t invest, you don’t get.”
Next up, he said, it’s all about being transparent and improving measurement and reporting.
Gallagher with AdNews’ Paige Murphy
“I think what is incumbent upon the regional market itself is to make sure that access to those audiences is as easy and simplified and accountable and as transparent as possible.
“And I think that’s where a lot of the work that’s going on for us is making sure that we’ve got improved audience measurement, and it’s being rolled out to our customers wherever possible trying to simplify access through information, data and systems. And all the development that’s happening now with our firm, for example, is around those sort of enhancements, just to make access as simple and as efficient and as accountable as possible. And I think, for me, that’s going to be the biggest barrier to growth in regional markets from an advertising perspective could be us if we didn’t want to invest in those things and get those things right.”
Earlier this week, Gallagher’s boss, SCA CEO Grant Blackley, spoke at AdNews’ Regional Reignited event, sponsored by SCA, and issued a rallying cry, warning of the catastrophic consequences for regional media if the Federal Government doesn’t intervene.
“We don’t like driving down to Canberra and fundamentally [asking for] handouts saying ‘We need further support’. What we want is we want the rules to be opened up to allow us to organise ourselves and fundamentally create a sustainable model,” Blackley said at the event.
“We don’t want this [these handouts] in perpetuity. We want, as I’ve said earlier, to try and sustain our own businesses on our own merit – however there’s going to be some serious decisions that will be made by certain players – whether we employ the journalists that we do, whether we nationalise more often, whether we sell assets. I don’t think our Government and our communities, and we certainly don’t want that outcome,” he added.