Digital Transformation in Australian Media Companies – where are you on the journey?

Speak to any senior executive or board member of a media company and no one questions the importance of digital.

Everyone agrees that the disruption has happened or is happening.  The question is: what are you doing about it and fundamentally, at what scale and speed?

I think scale and speed are key.  There are some companies that tick the box of digital because they have apps or active social pages.  There are others that recognize that digital is more than just another channel and that the entire business model and process has to change fundamentally.

Within media, the principles are straight forward.  Create integrated (digital) content and sell an integrated solution.

You need to create a culture where creating different types of content for multiple platforms is just what you do.  So for a business like SCA, the transformation has been content teams recognizing and embracing that posting on Instagram, shooting a video and making a podcast is just part of the daily routine in addition to the broadcast.

The equivalent is true of sales, where you keep true to the discipline of a strong brief – target audience, key audience, business problem, communication goals etc – but one where the sales team have a strong understanding of both broadcast and digital platforms.  Often the best solutions to sell include a mix of the above.  All underpinned with the right levels of data that allows campaigns to be optimized as you go.

My observation so far is that different companies have different appetites forscale and speed depending on their market circumstances.  In print, where the platform is still burning, we’ve seen revenues halve over 5 years.  I’ve heard enough stories now of both content and sales teams literally clambering over themselves to learn digital because they have no choice.  The challenge is then ensuring you have the right levels of capability and process to create content and sell it at scale.  The other challenge is organization – two separate teams or one brand team working across multiple platforms?  I know what I would choose.

That’s not easy and not without risk.  Digital content & sales simply requires more work in the short and medium term and the platforms are always changing.  Facebook can change an algorithm or introduce a new function that changes everything.  Not to mention the new platforms that come up every month. The new reality is that digital is complicated and we just all need to come to terms with that.  We can and must create structures and processes that keep things straight-forward.  Digital leads should know that they have the responsibility to keep the language simple and the processes clean.

The new discipline that has emerged is product management.  You can have great content but if it’s not a seamless experience of finding what you want then you, the consumer will switch to another product.  It is one of the reasons that Netflix wins consumers with its apps & platforms.  Or, if you take a sport like NRL or AFL, the content on an app can be quite similar to the consumer but its the user experience that often drives the NPS (Net Promoter Score) score.  The best apps in this space combine both great content with fabulous UX (user experience).  Strong product management is a core component of any digital transformation program.

The other key discipline you must have is a data capability.  Just yesterday, Transport for London, announced their call for partners who can help them monetize the vast amount of consumer data they have.  In media, we all need to move to a world where we know our consumers on first name terms.  Who they are, where they live and their behavioral data from our digital products?  The insight and value this is creating is not just important but is something that clients now start to expect.

So time to shift from making digital a fringe exercise to a major engine that drives transformation for your business.  Where are you on your journey?

 About: Vijay Solanki

Vijay is currently the Director of Digital & Innovation with Southern Cross Austereo.

Prior he was Philips Senior Director – Global Digital Innovation at their HQ in Amsterdam. His radio experience goes back to 1999 with Capital Radio, later launching Shazam. He’s been involved with digital strategy for other brands like Castrol and Blackberry and the growth of

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