In this exclusive “Masters of Media” series, Integral Ad Science (IAS) speaks to the Movers and Shakers of the APAC advertising industry on all digital matters.
Mike Delaney is the Head of Digital Strategy for Hearts & Science New Zealand. He has worked in agency media across London, Sydney and more recently New Zealand delivering client-facing digital planning and strategic solutions to brands. His responsibilities include running digital planning, activation, analytics and operations teams in NZ, as well as developing advertising and digital maturity strategies for brands.
IAS: Please tell us about your digital advertising journey and your current role at Hearts & Science.
Mike: I joined the digital advertising industry slightly later in life at the age of 26, when I joined Manning Gottlieb OMD in London as a digital planner. This came after spending earlier years working in movie journalism and media sales in London and Sydney.
At Manning Gottlieb OMD, I was lucky enough to work with some of the most talented people in Europe. I moved to New Zealand just before COVID (!) to join Hearts & Science NZ (also part of Omnicom Media Group) as it was just being formed in the market, and we have rapidly grown ever since.
As the Head of Digital Strategy at Hearts & Science, I oversee our planning, activation, analytics and operations teams, and help our clients set goal-oriented strategies that build meaningful connections with consumers powered by data and technology.
IAS: What are your thoughts on the future of advertising with the convergence of both attention & sustainability in advertising?
Mike: The shift towards the attention-science-based evaluation of media and attention-led planning is admiral because it moves beyond the traditional reach and frequency approach that is increasingly difficult to do well with the increasing audience, channel and format fragmentation.
At Hearts & Science, we are currently, and actively, evaluating partner tools like Amplified Intelligence’s planning tool for clients to help them step beyond reach planning and towards attentive-reach planning for campaigns.
However, we must remember that the current attention-led data available is highly aggregated at channel and format levels. Other variables help determine the quality of media and impression, including context, device, and ad relevance. YouTube, for example, is a gigantic content platform with a vast range of premium and non-premium content that would yield different average view-through rates and audience engagement depending on the creator and content.
Our agency recommendation is to use attention-led planning and measurement solutions as part of broader planning and measurement frameworks for driving effective campaigns.
For sustainability, again, this is a noble ad industry shift that addresses the carbon impact of advertising at all phases in the cycle (production, partner/format selection, serving).
We are currently educating marketers on the carbon impact of their advertising through our carbon impact reports and dashboards, as well as showcasing the latest green media partners, tools and tag products. Brands are slowly recognising there are no processes or boundaries that can’t be improved or upgraded sustainably, including advertising.
Eventually, carbon ad impact measurement will become a standard in media buying and planning in the same way verification solutions like IAS have become standard on media plans, to varying degrees and levels of investment based on the brand.
IAS: As we face economic uncertainty in the APAC region, how do you foresee the future of the advertising industry?
Mike: It’s very unoriginal, but the next few years look challenging for people, businesses, and brands in APAC.
I anticipate cost-cutting for businesses will increase and a doubling-down of optimising operations, consolidating and automating service. Increased deal-making and mergers within the ad tech industry. And most importantly for consumers, depending on the household, we will see increased frugality behaviours like dropping weekly luxuries, cooking in batches for the working week, ring-fencing bigger ticket items and decluttering from various subscription services
IAS: What are some steps that marketers can take to generate ROI and impact in 2023?
Mike: Here are three things marketers can do to improve ROI and impact in 2023:
- Ensure there is a business and marketing strategy in place (even with a 3-6 month outlook) that considers alternative market scenarios, singular priorities and informed by patterns within the business and customer data
- Ensure they have a measurement framework or a measurement maturity roadmap that helps unlock incremental improvements in their business and marketing measurement (moving from ROAS to profitability modelling, for example)
- Simplify marketing initiatives and stay the course with trusted channels, underpinned by leveraging automated performance marketing technologies with a test & learn roadmap to find incremental return increases or investment reductions for dollar savings.
IAS: If there’s one myth related to programmatic, you’d like squashed, what would that be?
Mike: It is a channel or synonymous with Display & Native. A bit like how some say ‘digital’ for the same reasons!
IAS: Any advice for leaders on talent retention and supporting a hybrid workforce?
Mike: Ensure talent and the working environment are number 1 on monthly/quarterly senior leadership agendas in the boardroom and that workplace culture or productivity is not created by simply being in the office more.
Engaging with employees and empowering them to develop cultural occasions over the course of the working month will all lead to longer-term talent retention improvement.
IAS: What’s your favourite book/podcast/movie and why?
Mike: My favourite book is A Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde, my favourite podcast (currently) is The All-in Podcast, and my favourite movie is Chinatown.
IAS: What is your advice to the fresh talent in the industry?
Mike: My advice for fresh talent in the industry is not to be overwhelmed by the rate of change you’ll experience; it’s a natural feature of an industry undergoing massive, accelerating technological change.
I would also advise anyone new to this industry to treat advertising and marketing as a practice, and to learn the fundamentals of core principles and concepts early and often, such as marketing 101, reach & frequency planning, KPIs and measurement, investment and analytics overviews.