Carat’s been busy switching things up in the office this past week with a number of promotions sweeping the company.
Late last week it was announced CEO Simon Ryan was pushed up to lead parent company Dentsu Aegis Network. B&T understands he’s continuing to fill the CEO of Carat role until another CEO is sourced. Other promotions include a change up of the exec team; Adriana Colaneri was promoted to CMO (chief marketing officer), Sam Hegg to CSO (chief strategy officer), Sarah James to CDO (chief digital officer) and Ashley Earnshaw to CIO (chief investment officer).
Phew, that was a lot of acronymns. And while the four will no doubt be having new business cards made up, we had a chat with them for the lowdown of what the agency has in store for the next few year. Focuses include getting the business to 100 per cent digital by 2020, pushing the agency through more of adland and staying on top of everything that’s happening.
While Carat is dedicated to getting the agency to eventually be 100 per cent, all four quickly assured me it doesn’t mean the agency is done with buying print media. Rather, it means the agency is going to push all parts of their thinking around digital and having a digital focus.
It means for channels that previously were once analog – such as TV, radio and even some print – the agency can put more emphasis and thinking behind the digital elements of these mediums.
The new chief digital officer Sarah James explained it best: “It’s about having a digital mindset. We’re not saying that everything we buy is going to be digital by 2020, because that’s not a reality. But what we are saying is that the way that we think across all business units is going to be thinking first with digital.”
From a strategy point of view, Hegg said he’s working closely alongside James and Colaneri to get Carat more digitally focused, with part of that strategy being to have a greater focus on data and analytics and bringing back the human aspect of data.
“There’s a lot of work we’re doing locally and globally that behind every data point there’s a human,” he explained. “We want to really harness our insights, not just within Carat, but within the wider Dentsu Aegis Network around data and really understanding people, not just understanding data.
“We really want to be the agency that understands audiences better than anyone else.”
Education in the market is one of the immediate changes James said they were embarking on to become more digital – pulling experience from the global Carat team. Aside from the actually ad tech opportunities – such as programmatic and viewability – new chief investment officer Earnshaw said convergence is going to be a big topic for many brands and businesses to get their heads around, as well as making sure the agency isn’t siloed in how it approaches new ways of thinking. He uses the TV industry as an example.
“Now we’ve got the TV landscape and the video landscape, and you’ve got streaming in the middle, we want to make sure our investment and implementation teams are at the forefront of convergence, and that we’re not siloed,” he said.
Aside from the digital aspect, fresh CMO Colanari wants to use the newly set marketing budget to differentiate Carat in the saturated media agency landscape.
“For many years I think we’ve been perceived as boutique agency and now after our huge growth trajectory it’s time for us to act like a market leader,” she said.
“We really believe there’s a perceived lack of differentiation amongst media agencies in the market and marketing is a really huge opportunity to change that and position our brand as different in the market.
“I think clients would find it difficult because we’re all talking about a lot of the same issues.”
The culture of the agency is another area of focus, added Colaneri, as the agency wants to make sure it remains flexible when it comes to external activities people do or when they become parents.
It all comes down to leadership, added strategy officer Hegg.
“We really want to be leading our clients into the next stage of the digital landscape,” he said. “We want to be leading the category and creating positivity around media within marketing.
“My role as chief strategy officer is to make sure we have the structure, processes and the tools…to make that happen.”
But staying on top of the plethora of offerings constantly popping up is a struggle. There’s no trick way of making sure you know everything, said the four, it just comes down to constantly talking with people, reading and researching.
“It’s a challenge of probably anyone that works in media agencies,” said Hegg, “the vulgar sea of content out there that you can form opinions and build your knowledge on.
“We have internal resources, both local and global, and subscriptions to pretty much anything you can have subscriptions for. We spend a lot of time debating points of view internally as well.”
From a personal perspective, James said she is a keen Twitter and LinkedIn user. “It’s a twice daily check in,” she said, “because in the digital world that’s the only way you can really keep up.”
You’ve just got to have a passion for it, said Hegg. “If you’re not excited by where media’s going, you’re going to get left behind.”
A previous version of this article stated Ashely Earnshaw was head of investment. He is chief investment officer.