Sarah Gilchriest, COO, Circus Street sponsors of Digital Sales Team of the Year 2016
1. What is your view on the current state of the online publishing industry?
Let’s start with a statistic: The Guardian received one billion page views in the whole month of June, while Snapchat is averaging ten times that per day with their video content. Attention is a precious commodity in today’s ad-funded world and let’s face it – online publishing isn’t the only girl at the dance anymore.
It’s not just non-traditional media that’s increasing the pressure on online publishing; digital is squeezing online publishing from all sides, with technology changing the way people access information and filter through the mass of content available every day. But it’s not all doom and gloom. Digital offers up a huge opportunity for online publishers, and for those who evolve with the times, there are immense commercial spoils to be won. All of the companies nominated for AOP awards are rising to the challenges of digital, and demonstrating what success looks like for online publishers in a digital world.
2. What challenges do you see that digital sales teams will be facing over the next five years – and how should they be preparing for those challenges?
The biggest challenge for digital sales teams over the next five years will be to adapt and grow to take advantage of this new media world. A huge part of facing this challenge head on will be dealing with the relentless pace of change in the media landscape. We believe that the best way to prepare for success is to continually train your digital sales team so that they have an intuitive understanding of the new and different options they are selling against, an appreciation of how trends and technology are affecting what advertisers are looking for, and giving them the confidence to deliver truly innovative solutions.
With more and more ads being sold programmatically, it will be the sales teams that can prove their value – by showing a human touch that is more in tune with their audiences and more creative in terms of what they can deliver – that will ultimately produce successful campaigns for advertisers and secure bigger budgets.
3. Why is recognising excellence in the skills defined by the AOP Digital Publishing Awards categories so important for the online publishing sector at this time?
It’s always important to recognise the success of the people within your organisation, but as more and more automation arrives into the sector, identifying those who can exhibit the creative and innovative thinking that will ensure the continued commercial success of your business is paramount. After all, any online publishing company is dependent on its digital sales team to drive revenue. Recognising and rewarding the people that have the skills to drive your company’s success – now and in the future – is key to retaining those team members.
4. Why is it important to see evidence of innovation, and evidence of results in digital sales teams?
In business, innovation is worthless if it doesn’t provide commercial benefit, and commercial success can’t last without innovation. You need both innovation and results to succeed. These two qualities account for the present and future of the commercial success of any organisation.
5. There are categories for what some may call the “unsung heroes” in digital publishing in the commercial excellence section of the AOP Awards – for advertising operations, data teams and digital sales teams. Why is it important to recognise these teams?
Any company that doesn’t appreciate the contribution of their data team or their sales team doesn’t understand the direction the industry is going. They might not be producing the content that gets a thousand retweets but they are crucial to ongoing commercial achievement. As succeeding in the digital landscape involves more and more collaboration across teams to provide new solutions in a constantly changing market, failure to recognise the importance of all departments, will mean failure to understand their potential to work together.