Carat Scholarship: 'A New York State of Mind'


Carat Melbourne Digital Executive, Jo Kappl - one of our 2015 Carat Scholarship winners - compares her recent experiences in the Carat New York office to life in the Australian media industry.

Image Source: Hanover Holidays

In January, I had the great pleasure of traveling to New York as part of the Carat Scholarship program to spend four weeks working with the Dannon team in the 42nd Street office.

In one short, action-packed month, it became clear how the difference in both demand and sheer scale in the US, when compared to Australia, has driven the evolution of a very different agency structure. 

While working at Carat Melbourne, I have had the opportunity to work across a large range of disciplines, starting my role as an offline coordinator, then slowly transitioning to a hybrid role, before finding my place in digital. I have gained visibility and experience across the entire media campaign process, from strategy to planning and buying, right through to implementation and reporting. 

One thing that became very clear to me during my first week working in the New York office was that due to the scale of campaigns in the US, being able to work across all aspects of a campaign is not possible.

With media budgets and demand in the US far exceeding that of Australia - due in large to the difference in population size and offerings in market - it is simply not feasible for planning teams to be involved in the implementation side of any of the media buy.

Instead, the media buying is allocated to designated teams that specialise in buying a single media discipline: national TV, radio, print, digital, search etc.

This lead to (one of) my most exciting discoveries during my time in New York - that our Carat NY office has its own in-house Ad Operations team, which typically only exist within publishers in Australia. 

As someone who has spent many hours trafficking campaigns, the idea that a team existed with the sole purpose of traffic and reporting was music to my ears.

This method of work distribution has led to an increase in prevalence of 'specialisms' within the media landscape. While we see this developing locally through agencies like our search specialist partners, iProspect, it is already very much the established way of working in Carat New York.

This specialism is crucial in a market that's population exceeds 318 million, and includes a seemingly never ending list of publishers, if we are to ensure high quality, creative, and innovative work.  

My time in New York was primarily spent working with the Planners and Digital execution team - the role most similar to mine back in Australia.

I had exposure to a range of different disciplines and the people in charge of them, including the National TV buyer for the Dannon team. Their role consisted exclusively of implementing national TV buys - certainly enough to keep them busy - with little contact with any other aspects of the campaigns.

Though this may seem unusual for someone from the Australian media market, the specialist buyer’s passion for their roles was evident through the depth of knowledge of the market's capabilities and the internal tools.

My time in New York was obviously an unforgettable experience, not only professionally, but also personally. 

I got through the Jonas Blizzard, experienced a New York Holiday party and had more ‘lunch and learns’ then I ever thought possible. I was also fortunate enough to experience some of the true New York lifestyle, attending basketball and ice hockey games, Broadway shows and off Broadway shows, comedy clubs and famous restaurants.

I'm so grateful for the experience and would recommend it anyone and everyone!

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