Hew Bruce-Gardyne is Head of Business Intelligence at TVSquared. We asked him about his day-to-day role, and how it has been affected by Covid-19.

hew bruce gardyne

Please describe your job: What do you do?

Simply put, I ensure that everything TVSquared does is driven by insight.

As a company scales, this task becomes progressively harder, but even more rewarding. The available data pool grows quickly, and the metrics delivered are not always in a form that can easily aid the decision-making process. That’s my job, to find clarity in the data and provide objective, measurable metrics so we can continue to manage the business effectively.

How has your typical day been impacted in the short term by the pandemic?

The immediate lack of commute has been both a blessing and a challenge. I used to cycle up the (very) steep hill of the New Town in Edinburgh every morning, so while it’s lovely to ease into the morning I’ve definitely had to find more discipline in ensuring I still get regular exercise.

Working remotely brings the newfound opportunity to be overly focused thanks to the lack of general office distractions, although the regular ‘pings’ from Slack are still something to contend with! Overall, you lack the social prompts from colleagues to take a break, so it is all too easy to stay completely tied to your desk for much longer periods – and later in the day – than was the case prior to lockdown.

What are your favourite tools and techniques to help you get your work done at the moment?

As a company, we’ve adapted well to remote working. We have daily ‘stand up’ video calls that have taken on much greater importance, allowing us to stay in touch with what’s going on across teams and to book slots to chat to people on a one-to-one basis.

To ensure we’ve captured the elements we’re missing from an office setting, we’ve developed more active ‘push’ notifications as our usual system monitoring screens are not as easily accessed remotely. We’ve also started using Miro, which is a great platform for capturing, sharing and structuring the unstructured thoughts that would normally live on whiteboard walls throughout the office. The instant messaging platforms we use to stay in contact with colleagues, while useful, do mean you’re often interrupted while in a meeting, which can result in a lot of context switching that can leave you a feeling a little frazzled. Sometimes, however you just have to set the ‘do not disturb’ function on phones and laptops, so if you need to get your head down and focus, you can, without the ubiquitous pinging disturbing a complex train of thought.

Which companies have impressed you during the pandemic?

Supermarkets. While they may be generally unfashionable, supermarkets are a vital element of our modern living and the manner in which they swiftly adapted to work through some very complex consumer behaviour (does anyone remember the toilet paper shortage?) and supply chain problems (the dearth of canned tomatoes?) was exemplary. To keep the shelves stocked and the nation fed when almost all other services were closed was a significant feat of logistics and solid management.

What trends have you seen in the last few weeks in your sector?

Overall, advertisers across the ecosystem are prioritising cost optimisation – looking for ways to make the most out of their media budgets. That means knowing how every single pound/dollar/euro spent contributes back to business outcomes. Another key observation from the past few months has been that direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands, in particular, are thriving on TV. Consumers are buying online more than ever, and DTCs are well-placed to deliver an ecommerce model. To drive brand awareness and site traffic, many of these digital-natives are experimenting with cross-platform TV and realising the performance and incremental reach it can offer. In fact, DTC fitness, DTC education, and DTC beauty/lifestyle have been the highest performing industries among our global client base in recent months.

What changes are you making to help your brand connect with how people are feeling and experiencing the pandemic?

Being a truly global company – our platform works in every country and our team is spread across four continents – we already had an emphasis on consistent connection and collaboration. However, the pandemic posed a unique global challenge and we had to become hyper-focused on ensuring our team’s welfare, while continuing to be a flexible, accessible partner for our clients.

For the TVSquared team, our ‘Culture Club’ initiative launched to ensure there was something for everyone, no matter where they’re based or what level of lockdown they’re experiencing. It includes everything from the Donut Slack extension that, once a week, automatically pairs people in the channel for non-work-related, 15-minute 1:1 calls, to online yoga classes run by members of our team. For our clients, we ensured that service was never disrupted, but also that we were there for them as a resource – whether they needed to go off-air for a while to rejig creatives or if they needed to find different ways to make TV work harder for them. We were there to help them utilise cross-platform TV more effectively and efficiently at a time when reaching audiences had never been more critical.

What advice would you give a marketer right now?

Don’t go ‘dark’. During times of crises, staying on-air helps to maintain brand presence and triggers a ‘memory effect’ with consumers. The long-term impact of going off-air simply isn’t worth the perceived short-term benefits.

Research has shown that 60% of the advertisers who cut all TV ad spend for six months during the 2008 financial crisis and ‘went dark’ actually saw their ‘brand image’ fall by 28% and ‘brand use’ drop by 24%. TVSquared also recently carried out an in-depth study with Effectv (the advertising sales division of Comcast) on how Covid-19 impacted TV advertising.  Among the advertisers analysed, those that stayed on-air had a prolonged impact from TV of 23% more website engagement in subsequent weeks. Those that went off-air saw website visits drop by an average of 20%.

What does long term planning and strategy look like now at your brand?

Short-term, we had to get through Covid-19 by looking after our people, our clients and our business (in that order). As a business, our long-term strategy hasn’t changed and has always been to continue to evolve our product offerings in line with the changing needs of advertisers across the globe. It’s about looking after our people and looking out for our clients always.

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