Inside Carat’s vision to be 100% digital by 2020 with Chief Digital Officer Sarah James


Carat Australia’s chief digital officer Sarah James gives The Newspaper Works an insider’s view of the Carat's 100% digital vision, how publishers can remain relevant, and the scarcity of video programmatic inventory.


To check out the video interview, click here.

It has been just over seven months since agency Carat, part of the Dentsu Aegis Network, embarked on its vision for 100 per cent digital by 2020, with 60 per cent to be underpinned by data and analytics and 40 per cent programmatic.

Chief digital officer Sarah James has been a driving force behind the vision and said while there were physical elements involved, it was really about a mindset change: viewing everything through a digital lens.

“Even if its working with press, it’s around thinking about how we can digitise those assets and start to automate the way that we’re buying with those assets,” she said.

Ms James said automation would allow teams to produce more integrated and holistic thinking when responding to client’s briefs, rather than worrying about buying and implementation of each different channel.

As such, the vision involves a change in language. Rather than talking about digital planners vs traditional planners, they talk about planners, hybrids who work cross-channel.

There also is a huge education effort underway, both internally and with key publishers and clients.

Ms James is keen to stress that the vision doesn’t mean Carat will give print the flick by 2020.

“So when we talk to being 100 per cent digital, by no means do we talk to being 100 per cent digital in terms of our investment,” she said.

“I think a way that newspaper publishers can continue with this strategy is by thinking around convergence and coming to us with convergent ideas and storytelling. So working with Fairfax and News already, what we’re seeing is a real shift in the way that they’re bringing to us ideas. So we can no longer think of traditionally just having press and digital if we’re thinking about those publishers. It has to be one idea that is brought to us that will contain both channels within it.”

While Carat aims for 40 per cent programmatic by 2020 there is a potential hurdle in the current scarcity of video programmatic inventory.

Catch-up TV, for example, can sell up to three months in advance.

“Everyone’s looking for video inventory,” Ms James said.

“We’re seeing a lot of publishers looking at their global partners and global content partners to try to bring inventory into Australia as well as partnering with influencers and blogger networks to try and get more inventory that they can monetise.

Explaining the scarcity of programmatic video inventory, Ms James said there was volume but not necessarily premium inventory.

Ms James explains YouTube dominates the video landscape, at 70 per cent, with the last 30 per cent consisting of “a lot of short form content of which we only want the premium”.

“So that’s where the scarcity is. There is volume of inventory but it’s not all the inventory that we want,” she said.

Carat is also looking at bolstering data and analytics to ensure that every touch point that it buys and for which it plans has a true measurement that can be used to create a point of ROI.

“So no longer can we be running campaigns where we’re presenting several different channels with several different measures of success. We need to have a clear understanding from the output of what that analysis will be when we’re tracking the campaign,” she said.

This article originally appeared on The Newspaper Works

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