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DIGITAL MARKETING MATURITY PART 3 | Full interview with Janet Ranola, Paid Media Manager,

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Sonic Branding: [00:00:00] Ashton, Ashton, Ashton Media!

Gavin: [00:00:00] Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Ashton cast. I’m here with Janet Ranola, who’s the paid media Janet, welcome to Ashton cast.

Janet: [00:00:10] Hey. Hello everyone.

Gavin: [00:00:12] How are you going today? You are,

Janet: [00:00:13] yes. Very, very good. Feeling good today. How are you?

Gavin: [00:00:18] Yeah, I’m great. I’m great. And I’m very, I’m very excited.

We’ve had a, it’s the seventh anniversary of Ashton media today. I was just saying to that, to that to you off air, which is, which is quite a milestone. There’s not, not exactly the way we were expecting to celebrate the seven, seven years in business, um, you know, in, in the middle of a global viral pandemic.

Uh, but you know what, it is what it is and, uh, where we can make the best of it. So. Can you tell us a little bit about, uh, who they are and what you do that please?

Janet: [00:00:47] Well, is an online, um, furniture retailer. So we initially sell mattresses in a box and we expanded our product line to include bed sheets, pillows, bed basis, and now we’re also selling furniture items.

So we’ve got sofas now we’ve got sofabed and automations.

Gavin: [00:01:11] Brilliant. And, um, obviously, you know, this is a challenging time for a lot of businesses, but you’re telling me that, you know, has actually been going quite well over this period.

Janet: [00:01:21] Yeah. It’s kind of surprising really, because, um, initially we’re pretty much bracing ourselves for a downturn, um, and, uh, a reduction of the number of transactions because everyone is financially impacted by this pandemic.

But I guess as people actually work from home, and. There’s, there’s practically nothing to do but go online. And, um, they, they wanted to maybe keep themselves busy so they go and see, Oh, maybe I can do some home improvements or I can buy some furniture. And we’ve seen a steady increase in the number of our transactions since late March, and it hasn’t stopped since then.

So I think we’re one of those lucky ones.

Gavin: [00:02:06] Yeah, that’s brilliant. There’s nothing like a good Aussie startup story. And I’ll tell you what, you don’t get more than now.

Janet: [00:02:14] Yes, that is true. And we are actually making sure that we’re also giving back to the community. So, um, I’m not really sure if you’ve seen, um, one of our TV ad that we ran, um, I think mid April and we gave away $200 vouchers, um, uh, from Deliveroo.

Whenever they purchased, um, a furniture item from us so that people can actually just support the local businesses. So koala is actually pretty good at that as well.

Gavin: [00:02:44] Oh, great. Good on you. Good on you. A koala founders and marketing team and everyone who is behind that. So Janet, what do you, what’s your role entail

Janet: [00:02:53] Well, I look after all the paid media activities for koala. So that includes paid search, um, display, which includes programmatic and discovery ads, and um, video. And that includes the YouTube campaign and the programmatic video campaigns as well. Right?

Gavin: [00:03:12] And, um, you know, we’re in a very strange time at the moment.

We’re, we’re in the middle of a, a global viral pandemic. No one has ever seen anything like this before. So, so where were you when you first thought, Oh man, this covert 19 thing is going to be very bad. And what was it that made you think that?

Janet: [00:03:31] I think it actually. In the office at that time, and I was crawling through my news feed and I see that, Oh my God, the number of deaths, the number of fatalities, um, because of this virus is actually increasing, like all around the world, not only in Italy.

And I thought that this is going to be. One of the, probably the worst that I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. So it’s

Gavin: [00:04:06] certainly been a, um, it’s certainly been an interesting ride and so in, everyone’s kind of in, in hibernation at the moment, and we’re actually recording this podcast from, from our homes. Um, so how long have you been working from home for.

Janet: [00:04:20] Like, guess, jeez, think more than two months now. So we started working from home a week before the Australian government, um, introduce all these restrictions. So when they, um, ask everyone that. All the pubs are closed. Restaurants are now only available for takeaway. So we’re already working from home, um, for a week by that time.

So I guess that’s, that would make it like two more than a little over two months.

Gavin: [00:04:53] Two months, two months of Groundhog day. Huh.

Janet: [00:04:58] It’s a lot of getting used to at first because, um, yeah, because I. I usually wanted to, um, have separate spaces for work and, uh, you know, for relaxation and recreation. And now. Work and relaxation are just in one place.

Gavin: [00:05:19] Having everything mixed up together can be, can be really tricky. One of the, one of the challenges of hibernation is that we’ve had to give up a lot of the stuff that we love doing, albeit temporarily, and obviously some of the restrictions are starting to come off now, but what is it that you miss the most?

Janet: [00:05:37] The one thing that I miss the most of course, is traveling. So I, I do love to travel and that’s, that’s the one thing that, Oh, I wanted to see, um, new places, but yeah, it, it, you can’t really do it right now. And another, I think one of the, another thing that I really miss the most is, um, comforting. I mean.

Let’s, let’s be real. We know, we probably know a lot of people who’s been impacted by this virus either because they’ve been laid off or they’ve been stewed down. And it’s kind of like heartbreaking when you see your friends, um, experienced those kinds of things and you can’t even give them a hug, you know, cause, yeah.


Yeah. I think that’s, that’s like the sense of touch is probably like the one of the most comforting things that you can do for a friend and. Unfortunately country to do without right now.

Gavin: [00:06:43] Yeah. Well, soon. Soon. So, fingers crossed. All right. Well, we’ll see how we go. And so in terms of, uh, of the marketplace, you know, what, what are the most immediate differences that we’ve seen in the marketplace after Covid-19?

One of the things that I initially see you when, when I was running the campaign is that. Then in terms of paid display, is that the number of inventory or the number of ad placements has just gone through the roof? I think it’s because a lot of people are going online right now and at the same time, a lot of advertisers are pulling back their budgets.

So you will see that, Oh, my average CPMs are actually dropping and. It’s, it’s not like just a 5% drop. I actually see like a 30, 40% drop in the average CPM, and even in the cost per view for, um, the YouTube campaigns that I’m running, it’s like I usually see an average CPV of around 10 cents and then now it’s down to 3 cents and then it’s like, yes.

And I, I guess that’s, that’s one of the immediate, um, impact of, uh, uh, of this pandemic is there, there’s a lot of supply, but a lot of course, advertisers are still very wary of, you know, stepping up their marketing activities and spending a lot. So you kind of get that, Oh. I guess, uh, it looks like it’s, it’s actually good to do, um, as a, as an eCommerce company, it’s pretty good to, to run those kinds of media right now because he can actually get cheaper traffic.


Gavin: [00:08:35] Brilliant. And so have you have you invested more because it’s cheaper and therefore, you know, that’s how they’ve seen a bit more of an uptick in sales, you think? Or, I mean, how, how does that piece work?

Janet: [00:08:45] It hasn’t, we haven’t really, um. Increased our investments significantly. So it’s pretty bad.

We haven’t really decreased them as well, so it’s pretty much business, a shoe swell for, for us right now. So, and, um, we’re, what we actually did is to optimize our campaigns in such a way that. We wanted to shift our budgets to channels or to marketing platforms that are driving more conversions for us.

So it’s more of a channel optimization, uh, approach that we took instead of like, Oh, we, we know that a lot of people are, um, going to the site, uh, how are we going to, um, do we need to have, uh, uh. I’m increasingly of investment, but we kind of approach it in such a way that how we go, this is the, the, uh, the money that we have.

How are we going to make sure that we get the maximum number of people to convert?

Gavin: [00:09:47] Okay. Yeah. Smart. And, um, you know, obviously we’ve, we’ve had previous global challenges, uh, in our careers before. We’ve had, we’ve had nine 11, and we’ve had, um, the, the GFC. So how have they affected global business.

Janet: [00:10:03] I think then nine, 11 and GFC are, even though they are, um, they have a lot of impact.

Um, E uh, eh, globally as well. I don’t think that it’s. Comparable to this, um, pandemic in a way that it has actually their rate of, um, the, how fast it actually affected everyone is pretty much like nothing that we’ve actually seen. Well, when, um, in the global financial crisis, we actually see that. Okay. Um, it took them about maybe 18, like.

Months too, to be able to see that all the impact, the, the brunt of the impact of the, uh, of, um, the global financial crisis when, whereas in this, um, with, with coronavirus, it actually just took them like weeks to do, to do all the damage that it actually

Gavin: [00:11:07] did. Yes. Yeah. It’s scary. Um, and so who do you think in the marketplace has shown to be well prepared or rapidly adapted to the shift that we’ve seen?

Janet: [00:11:21] To be honest, I don’t think that anyone has actually prepared for this.

I don’t think that anyone like I like, I don’t think that anyone or any. Company or any brand in the end, the world has actually ever saw that, okay, what are we going to do in, in, in, um, in the midst of a pandemic? I don’t think that anyone has actually expected this one to happen, but I think the, there are actually companies that are.

Um, fast enough to adapt to the changes. So, and I guess that’s, that’s one, one thing that is actually commendable is that if you can, um, if a brand can actually pivot immediately to be able to, um, see not only the negative impact, but also the opportunity that it can actually bring to, um, to the brand, then that’s the one that’s actually, um, is thriving right now.

So, um, I think

Gavin: [00:12:27] the brands come to mind when you, when you think about the ones that have adapted swiftly and well,

Janet: [00:12:34] I think apart from the, uh, of course, apart from the, um, online retailers that we’re seeing right now. Um, one, one thing, uh, one brand, um, actually, um, local brand that actually comes to mind would be, um.

Meyer, because that’s one, that’s one. One that I have heard from, from the news that, Oh, if you can remember, Meyer has actually closed all their, um, outlets, mainly because of the pandemic, but, and has to Deanne, thousands and thousands of employees, but they’re online. Um, uh. Online, uh, there e-commerce component is actually has actually thrived, um, during the spear that they were able to, um, rehire, um, some of their employees back to be able to support that, um, of a fletching, um, e-commerce component.


Gavin: [00:13:34] Great. Well done to the team at Maya there. Yeah, I think, you know, I think Coles and Woolies have done a fantastic job coping with such, such huge demand. Um, so, you know, and I think a lot of it has is around digital marketing maturity. So, so what role has digital marketing maturity played in coping with this crisis?

Do you think

Janet: [00:13:55] he played a pivotal role, um, for, for a lot of companies. Um, mainly because when. When you are digitally mature, you’ll be able to, um, serve your customers in any kind of light, in any type of distribution. Because if you’re only, if you’re any other brick and mortar company, you’re only platform of distribution is through your retail outlets.

But if you have, um, but if you have thought of and included, um, an online strategy in, in the business that. You’ll be able to, um, basically adapt to the changes. If in case that your, your other, um, line of distribution that is the retail outlets has actually, is not available, then you’ll be able to, um, reallocate your resources and you will be able to, um, come up with, uh, another strategy to be able to serve your customers through your online platform.


Gavin: [00:14:59] Interesting. And so how do you think a koala dotcoms existing strategy have prepared your response to this crisis?

Janet: [00:15:07] Koala has always been an online company, so I guess there has been no fo for us. There has been no change in the, um, in the way that we actually do business. Um, the only struggles or the only challenges that we actually, um, uh, have is of course, our, um, supply chain.

Maybe because some of them. Of course, some of the factories that we have partnership with, um, has had to close down, mainly because of the virus. So that actually impacts the, um, the production of our products. But we have, um. Well, one thing that is actually, um, really good about, um, our team in supply chain is that they have mitigated the risks and they will, or they are able to reforecast and see what, what are the things that they can actually do to make sure that, um, our, um, supply of products will not be, um.

Significantly affected by, by the, by the pandemic. And at the same time, our logistics as well because of course, delivery, um, is very, very important that you, it’s very important that you are, um, delivering or shipping to. Um, the customers in a timely manner because you don’t fly. Nobody wants to wait for their mattress for four weeks, isn’t it?

Gavin: [00:16:37] And look, I, and that was the question I was going to ask you was about logistics, right? Because, you know, a lot of the logistics companies have been having troubles. So, you know, how have you guys overcome that?

Janet: [00:16:47] Um, I think we. Well, we have established, um, really, really good partnerships with our, um, uh, logistics partner.

So we’ve been, uh, we’ve been, um, with them. Our relationship with them has been in a way that we have made sure that there will be. At least no impact or leave the least impact at all to, um, to our customers. So if there are issues that we won’t be able to do a four hour delivery, then we have to, um, make sure that.

We communicate, um, with the customers and provide them with, um, another, like a delivery schedule and a clear delivery schedule so that we can manage their expectations. But so far we haven’t really had that kind of problem where in week won’t be able to deliver to the customer for like weeks and weeks in a row.

Gavin: [00:17:46] Well, that’s good. That’s good. Nice. Nice to hear. Some little, little success stories in all this challenging time that everybody’s having,

Janet: [00:17:53] but it’s, it’s not exactly like, it’s not a breeze. It’s like all hands on deck for

Gavin: [00:17:58] fresh. Of course. Yeah, absolutely. I think, I think it’s the same for everybody. How has the approach to digital marketing maturity changed in the recent atmosphere?

I guess, you know, from, from a koala perspective, but maybe also from a broader perspective.

Janet: [00:18:15] I think for in terms of how you approach or how you work towards digital maturity, it hasn’t exactly changed, but I think what actually changed is the pace on your way to get there. Because if you’re, if you’re. If you’re only, if you’re a brand that’s, that’s just, um, at the, um, initial stage of your digital transformation.

If you’re just a brand who is just like looking into how are you going to, um, serve your products or sell your products directly to the customers and you’re, you haven’t really implemented this yet, then I think the ha the. How fast can you actually get there is the one that you need to look into, but they, the approach will still be the same.

The reason why I’m actually saying that is because a lot of the companies right now are looking towards how are we going to say to, um, uh, to utilize, um, online? How are we going to leverage this? Um, um. Demand that we are actually seeing because right now for some sectors, there’s an increase in demand, um, for products online.

And how are you going to, um, to answer to that in a very timely manner is actually the one that’s, that’s pretty much a game changer for you. Because if you’re not going to, if you’re slow to the race, then you won’t be able to benefit from that.

Gavin: [00:19:56] Yeah. I think I read this meme a few times when when covert started to kick off, and I think it said something like, um, who, who in your business was the person that was the trigger for your digital transformation strategy?

Was it your CTO? Was it your CMO or is it Covina?

And Toby, it was for everybody. Um, so we’re going to switch it up a little bit here, Janet. So we’re going to do a few little quick fire questions. Um, and we’ll kick off with, who would you look up to as a mentor or role model, muse for your own digital guidance?

Janet: [00:20:37] I think for search engine Mark thing, it will be Brad GEDs and for, um, overall marketing marketing strategy itself.

That would be Fernando Machado, who is the CMO of burger King is really good.

Gavin: [00:20:54] And, um, is there anything in particular about those two? Um, you know, that you really like, let’s say Brad Gates. What, what kind of, what can you, what can you learn from someone like him?

Janet: [00:21:04] I. One of the things that I really like about Brad Getz is how, how he actually, um, tests and how he conducts experiments in, um, paid search.

And these are the things that, um, as, um, as someone who’s pretty much deeply rooted in paid search marketing, this w this one was like. Oh, okay. This, these are the things that you can actually get and apply to your own job, and how are you going to approach it? What are the strategies that you haven’t actually sought of?

So yeah, that’s one of the things that I really like about it.

Gavin: [00:21:43] Yeah. Cool. And so what books, podcast, or media are you consuming right now that’s, that’s helping you with your own personal digital education?

Janet: [00:21:52] For podcasts, there’s, um, the podcast of Neil Patel. Um, that’s digital marketing school and I read a lot of blogs.

Um, PPC hero is one of the, my favorite blogs. Search engine. Um, land is my go to, um, website to, um, get myself updated to all the latest features and all the, the latest happenings in digital marketing.

Gavin: [00:22:21] Cool. And what’s the trend that you’re most excited about in digital? It sounds like you’ve got your finger on the pulse there with, uh, you know, with some of your media consumption.

So what, what are you, what are you most excited about in digital?

Janet: [00:22:34] The most, uh, one of the things that I’m most excited about is machine learning, and the other one is the, um, use of, um, audiences. Um, I’m pretty excited about that.

Gavin: [00:22:47] Yeah. Brilliant. Um, I guess the, you know, machine learning kind of lenses quite nicely to the next one, which is what are your thoughts on AI, both in marketing and beyond?

Janet: [00:22:58] It’s, I think it’s going to be exciting because it’s going to change, um, how we are going to market. Um, to our consumers and it’s going to change the way, um, we’re going to be seeing a lot of interactive ways of how we’re engaging with, um, with our, but

Gavin: [00:23:21] what about beyond marketing? You know, what, what are you, what are your thoughts on, um, on AI in the future?

Let’s just say, you know, crystal ball 10, 20 years from now, right? Cause AI is, you know, growing exponentially. What, what do you think’s going to happen in the wider, wider world, I guess, with AI.

Janet: [00:23:37] Well, I think it’s going to be a, uh, it’s going to be a major part of our lives that is actually like being, like, it’s actually knocking at our doors right now with all of those, um, uh, voice assistant and automations that are happening in, in, in our role right now.

Interesting self driving cars. Why not?

Gavin: [00:24:03] Why not? Who wouldn’t want a self driving car? Right? Self driving car be great. Just get in there, sit down and get, take them wherever you want to go. So we’ve got one more question there for you and then you’re off the hook.

Janet: [00:24:13] So

Gavin: [00:24:13] if you could tell someone 10 years ago about one interesting thing about how digital would turn out now, what would that be?

Janet: [00:24:21] It actually took a pandemic for everyone to take seriously their online marketing

Gavin: [00:24:27] strategy.

Can we expand on that?

Janet: [00:24:38] Yeah. Okay. So I think if I’m going to like tell someone so. It would be like it, it actually, um, the digital marketing and, um, online has actually dramatically changed, um, at this point in time during the wave of the pandemic, mainly because we’ve seen a shift in customer trends that we have never seen before and everyone has just fo, uh, and everyone has just.

Paid attention on what, what is hat on the changes and it made everyone rethink their strategies and it made everyone like focus on what’s what’s really important for them and make sure that they have adapted to the change.

Gavin: [00:25:39] Brilliant. Janet Rinella from we thank you very much for your time and thank you for joining us on AshtonCast.

Janet: [00:25:46] Thank you so much to Gavin. It’s been a pleasure.

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