In this exclusive “Masters of Media” series, Integral Ad Science (IAS) speaks to the Movers and Shakers of the Southeast Asia advertising industry, on all matters digital.
Laura Wall is currently the Head of Programmatic at Shopper Media Group. She’s extremely experienced in broadcast media having worked in both London and Sydney covering cinema, newspapers, digital and most recently OOH.
Integral Ad Science (IAS): Laura, please tell us about your digital advertising journey and your current role
Laura: I have worked in media for over 13 years, starting in radio at Nova in 2007. I gained experience in broadcast media in both London and Sydney covering cinema, newspapers, digital and most recently OOH. Throughout my career, I have seen the evolution of digital and data-driven media and I am incredibly passionate about how data helps us to communicate better across a diverse range of audiences. My interest in programmatic OOH really solidified after returning from maternity leave, which has led to my current role driving the programmatic OOH journey for Shopper Media Group. The power of broadcast media using audience data is very exciting.
IAS: How has the COVID-19 impacted consumer behaviours with regards to retail industry at large?
Laura: COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on consumer’s lives, driving consumers to behave differently and many Australians adapting to the ‘new normal’. Nationwide lockdowns, job losses, and general uncertainty about the future have meant consumers are more conscious about their spending. While some retailers are seeing demand fall and consumers shift to e-commerce, others are seeing unprecedented spikes in demand. Grocery retailers have had to deal with supply issues as consumers stock up on essentials. Some shoppers have increased their use of online channels but with many living locally and people preparing more meals at home, local shopping centres have provided a safe and convenient place to visit with many shoppers now visiting with the same frequency as they did pre-COVID. I have been lucky to be working at Shopper Media at this time where essential retail has continued to attract and grow local audiences in convenience-based shopping environments.
IAS: What changes do you expect in spending habits over the holiday season?
Laura: Whilst 2020 has changed many things, in a recent study by Shopper Media, summer this year is likely to see consumers keen to entertain or travel locally while adhering to the restrictions in their state. The study showed that consumers are likely to stockpile food and alcohol for entertaining, with 57% buying more alcohol in summer than at any other time of year. People still want to enjoy the holiday season, and celebrate with friends and family, probably more so than ever before. So, whilst we might see a shift in how consumers buy products online versus instore, consumers will still be splurging on goods for the festive and summer season. Coming weeks will determine whether reduced restrictions lead to more of the festive and summer fun centered around our homes rather than at bars and restaurants.
IAS: Any tips for marketers navigating the new normal?
Laura: I think now more than ever it is important for brands to connect with consumers with the right tone in the right environments. We have seen consumer behaviours changing faster than ever before due to COVID-19 and therefore there is an increasing need to stay in touch with consumer sentiment and behaviours throughout these changing times. More than ever it will be important for marketers to relate to their audience and be nimble and useful as consumers work out what it means for them.
IAS: What are the key initiatives pertaining to digital media quality your company is prioritizing currently? E.g. ad fraud, viewability, brand suitability
Laura: We are working closely with the IAB to create standards for the measurement of OOH. We have also been working with verification businesses over the last 3 years. Without consistent verification and measurement, its will be difficult to build trust in the medium.
IAS: What is the future of programmatic DOOH in Australia?
Laura: The DOOH space is exciting. We have seen significant growth in the last 5 years with the digitisation of static panels, which now represent 54% of the OOH market. This has been a driving factor for programmatic trading in OOH. In the coming years, we will see greater adoption of programmatic within OOH. The use data matched with technology means that brands can now access one of the best broadcast mediums, utilising data to optimise campaigns, and ensure they are reaching the right audience at the right time.
IAS: What’s your favourite book/podcast/movie and why?
Laura: I just can’t go past Love Actually. I have watched it every Christmas since its release, I am a total sucker for true romance.
IAS: What is your advice to the fresh talent in the industry?
Laura: Don’t ever stop learning. Be inquisitive, ask questions and have fun. When you are young you may be driven to get that next promotion and feel highly motivated by money – but knowledge is the most important currency. Don’t be afraid to change direction throughout your career, and always look for opportunities within the company you work for and the industry in general. I am so grateful for the wide variety of experiences I’ve had both here and overseas. If you asked me three years ago what role I would be doing in the future, I don’t think I would have guessed I would be in my current role. So my advice would be open to new opportunities and always be brave to try something new.