For years, Global has delivered out of home and audio ads but to future-proof, it restructured its sales team to have both working in tandem for top campaigns. Mike Gordon, chief commercial officer of Global, explains how he fast-tracked a restructure by around two years.
Global, Europe’s largest radio company, is the owner of digital advertising platform Dax. In January 2020, Dax rebranded with an expanded remit from audio to include the inventory of its significant outdoor advertising landgrab in 2018 and 2019. The move suggested an alignment across the media giant was on the cards.
In the UK, Global Radio operates Capital, Heart, Classic FM, LBC, Smooth, Radio X, and more. It has vast inventory in the out-of-home space too, buyable since February 2020.
For it to enjoy the benefit of these channels, it needed to learn how to make them work in tandem. The recent digisitation of out-of-home and radio has opened up numerous new opportunities for cool creative executions that marketers, and the people selling them, are still coming to grips with. The chief executive of DOOH.com listed some of his favourites this year here.
This year, the OOH industry was one of the channels hardest hit due to the lockdown – although roadside inventory held strong with more people driving now. In audio, in-car commute radio was initially smothered. There was also a surge in at-home listening as well as podcast listening.
During this time of introspection, Global restructured its sales team, appointing Ollie Deane director of commercial outdoor and Dax, and Katie Bowen as director of commercial audio. There were around 600 people in the sales unit, with 66% working nationally and 33% on regional markets, selling across three lanes: radio, outdoor and through Dax.
Chief commercial officer of Global, Mike Gordon, reflects on the issue it had: “When we went out to present to the agencies, we had three swim lanes.“
He says clients are becoming platform-agnostic – and that it is getting harder and harder to argue that one ABC 25-44 adult’s media consumption is similar to another’s, given the fragmenting nature of media consumption. “Fast forward into the middle of Covid-19 and that was exaggerated even further.”
To meet this shift, Gordon “made the decision to do something that I would have done in about two years’ time” and restructure the agency sales team.
The team started with a “blank piece of paper“, pretending there were no legacy structures to shuffle, and looked to build “what works best for partnering major agencies and specialists“.
He claims that 85% of the sales team can now work across all platforms. Its three swimming lanes became one big lane. Specialists remain, but a huge upskilling effort was adopted to ensure that sales were helping to create campaigns that reached across the scope of Global’s holdings.
“It was an enormous amount of work to just structure it and needed huge amounts of upscaling and training, but now we’re presenting back to the agencies with the structure and the feedback is incredibly positive.”
Global’s biggest agency partnerships usually start with a brief or objective. It’s the team’s goal to meld that into an effective campaign across its holdings. Right now, digital audio and digital out of home are seeing new developments in buying, such as syncing (running both at once in close proximity), which Gordon says is “very effective”.
He reflects on some of the changes the team may not have navigated under the old structure. This year, Honda used the Dax listener ID to deliver multiple types of creative (informed by real-time data like geography and weather) to work out what ads are work best in what contexts.
Meanwhile, Vodafone synced large format sites with Routemaster buses. When the vehicles came within 200m of a site, a creative advertising the telco's 5G offering was triggered. “That was really high impact,” says Gordon.
And Mondelez came with a brief to “follow an audience through a day” to drive snacking. The audience journey was mapped out, from radio in the morning (synced with DOOH near shops), as well as sponsorships on radio and podcast, as well as video pre-roll on the global player and Alexa ads.
Global argues it can connect and attribute all of this activity on its platform, using as many devices as possible to make the greatest possible use of its 51 million weekly audiences in the UK.
A final example comes from eBay. Gordon claims that Capital is the largest UK producer of content on TikTok and that this is another channel built out by one of its brands. To create additional value for Capital Breakfast Show sponsor Ebay, it created TikToks with the hosts; the shortf-form creative was delivered through its out-of-home network, too.
So, down to the new pitch from Global. It is looking to take some of the heavy lifting out of these campaigns and connecting them to a coherent media push.
Gordon says: “If you're an agency, you need a huge amount of coordination. We can take all the complexity and manage it ourselves internally.
“Our specialists now have a whole content strategy that they've never been had access to so actually, we upskilled them to have a top-line view as to what is possible by the use of content, content creation video. Social and more. Feedback from the media agencies shows they live that we now have a whole canvas, instead of many canvases.”
And that leaves us at the latest campaign released this week, from GiffGaff, which is building upon its sustainability platform. Showing the breadth of the new approach, the one-year sponsorship will be activated across Global’s portfolio on-air, online and OOH as well as Global's national charity, Make Some Noise, and the Global Academy, a school for talented youths seeking a career in media.