Uncovering Seven Network’s marketing secrets

CMO

Having spent nearly a decade at Seven, Ana Bacic, Marketing Director, Seven Network, leads a team of national and state based marketers, responsible for the development and implementation of Seven West Media strategies and campaigns across the company’s TV brands and platforms.

Ana and her team have helped launch some of Seven’s most successful franchises including My Kitchen Rules and Packed to the Rafters. Her previous work in both full service and media agencies drives Ana to be a very hands-on marketer, passionate about developing her team’s holistic communications skills.

1. Seven has been Australia’s most watched network for the 10th year in a row. How has the marketing function contributed to sustaining this?

At Seven, we pride ourselves on presenting the best content to our audience. Regardless of the genre of programming, or the calibre of broadcast delivery, every aspect of what we do, is considered day in and day out by not just our marketing team, but the organisation as a whole.

A little over ten years ago, our international programming partnerships, delivered a suit of programs that shifted our entertainment portfolio and offered a marketing opportunity that would prove to invigorate brand Seven.

We set out to capture not only the minds, but hearts of Australian audiences. Local productions followed that showed we really were in touch with the Australian viewer, driving massive viewership across all time zones, and as our research showed, significantly elevated positive brand attribution to the master Seven brand. The calibre of programming, how it was programed, how it was marketed essentially underpinned a perception of quality that only Seven could deliver. As marketers our role has always been to ensure we speak to our audience about content that will engage, inform and entertain. This ensures our master brand, acts like a stamp of approval for whatever content or platform we offer Australia.

2. You have been involved in launching some of the network’s most successful television franchises including the hugely appreciated My Kitchen Rules series. Can you give us some insight into your process of marketing a new series?

MKR is often referred to as Seven’s ‘Juggernaut’, and while we work hard marketing all our other projects, MKR comes with its own ‘unique’ challenges each and every year. Now in its 8th season and being the biggest show on Australian television for the last five, neither producing a series like MKR, nor marketing it comes easy. Like all Seven Productions, the various communication and creative teams at Seven work very closely on MKR. While the show itself is only on air four or so months, the work continues behind the scenes all year round.

From casting to creating a marketing strategy that will ensure individual narratives are connecting with particular audiences, there is no other show in this market, that delivers the scale of audience, nor the breadth and depth of audiences that MKR does.

It is easily our biggest marketing investment, purely because it is launched out of summer, where we need to drive more awareness with campaigns beyond our own channels. So much so that when it

hits the air, it is capturing children, older generations, males, females, fifth generation and first generation Australians, and everyone in between.

I often tell my media, social and creative teams, imagine this is the last campaign we do, and this is what you’ll be remembered for…. Now go get em. And I say it, each and every year

3. How do you ensure Seven’s marketing helps the network stand out from competitors?

I’ve been at Seven for ten years now, and the thing that struck me very quickly in the piece was the way our everyday audience described Seven. Every marketer strives to build a brand that their ‘target audience’ is connected to in a positive way. To have people speak passionately about your brand and engage with it day in day out, is what I consider the Holy Grail as a marketer.

Our audience speaks passionately about Seven, and with that passion comes an inherent expectation. Expectation of a quality, accessibility and great storytelling. Our marketing is designed to showcase the very best content and delivery platforms at any point in time. We are very careful to deliver a creative message tailored to not just the particular target audience we’re after, but also the best use of the format or asset.

Although we get a report card every morning with ratings, at Seven particularly in the marketing team, we’re not just ratings obsessed – we are audience obsessed… all 17million that we reach every single month with our focus on delivering content everywhere, across our increasing digital footprint and our partnerships. That’s how different our business is today, and that’s how differently we behave vs a decade ago. We are no longer just ‘Channel Seven’. We are the organisation, the storytellers that provide Australian and now more so global audiences with the best content, made available wherever they are, wherever they want to watch it.

4. In today’s digital environment, what role does data play in helping Seven understand their audience better?

People often (too easily) criticise TV for a lack of audience accountability. We at Seven argue that we are still one of the most robustly measured mediums in the country. Measurement, that is constantly evolving for us, constantly updating with the audience trends and habits, is what keeps us ahead of the curve in our business. Understanding not just how many people watch content, but who they are, where they are, how often they watch and on what devices, how latent some viewing on particular genres may be, how the editorial extensions of our brands helps to sell more magazines, or engage more newspaper readers, or drive people to social and digital media, and how they are engaging with us in any other way.

You don’t speak to 17 million Australians as we do every month, without looking at the data and drawing insight to their journey with you. And while in our business it’s all too easy just to talk about the number of people we reach, what is much more valuable is the level of engagement these 17 million people have with Seven. What drives that engagement and what does that mean for our business and our partners?

The fact of the matter is, we can now more than ever follow a user’s journey, and by watching the data daily as we do, by combining automation with old fashioned marketing practice and common

sense, we can apply a very natural and enticing content offering to both our consumer audience and our business partners alike. The depth of data helps us not only drive large or smaller specific audiences to a particular event, or destination, but it also helps us develop more content most appropriate to the available audience. Content that is varied by occasion or audience, and content that is optimised for the platform upon which it’s going to be consumed.

5. Lastly, as avid consumers of Australian television, we’ve seen a major trend in dating/romance shows across all channels. Do you see this trend sustaining into the future and can our readers expect more such offering from Seven in the new year?

Powerful storytelling can sometimes drive a trend well beyond its organic curve. The current appetite for dating shows (or the relationship genre overall), is being driven predominantly by young women under the age of 40.

These shows generate water cooler gossip, which in the current ‘always on social world’ drives a must-see viewing occasion, or at the very least a ‘must know about it’ response because these women want to watch it live and talk about it. It a great moment in sport, these shows tend to be “noisier” than other genres. Noisier because of their audience, and also because these shows often challenge social norms, and a fascination people have about what goes on behind closed doors. These shows drive social commentary, whether it be online, on traditional media like radio, or even via direct face to face interactions. My job is often the subject of general conversation with tradespeople, housewives, exercise buddies and business professionals alike.

Finding a show that people want to watch immediately, not record and watch later is important for free to air broadcasters because we are all trying to dominate that watercooler moment.

Like cooking and renovation, dating is an important entertainment genre in Seven’s schedule. We’re currently seeing great success with our new show Bride and Prejudice, and we have a second series of Seven Year Switch in post production. Plus we have more First Dates and we’re looking closely at a few other formats. The audience are enjoying it and we plan to have something servicing the relationship appetite in our schedule for a large chunk of the year.

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