Following the publication of the Ebiquity and FirmDecisions report for the U.S. Association of National Advertisers (ANA) in July 2016, we’ve been talking to many of our advertiser clients about how they get the most from their media and marketing in the most transparent and accountable ways possible. In the first of a series of interviews with marketers in APAC, Ebiquity’s Chief Strategy Officer Nick Manning spoke to Lyndall Campher, Media Director at L’Oréal Australia & New Zealand.

NM: Can you describe your role and responsibilities at L’Oréal Australia & New Zealand?

LC: I have two primary functions. First I act as an in-house media consultant across all of our 25 brands, which include Maybelline, Garnier, Lancôme, YSL, Kérastase, Redken, and La Roche-Posay. Each brand has its own needs and requirements.

My second function is to help set the strategic direction for media that L’Oréal as a group needs to take. Brands – quite naturally – tend to think and operate in their silos, whereas my role requires me to take a bird’s eye view and recommend teams do this or that for the good of the company – for Group benefit. I have lead responsibility for our relationship with our media agency, Carat. In this capacity, I also play an adjudicator role and provide guidance if and when my colleagues or the agency need help – on remuneration, or on tasks that are in or out of scope.

NM: Does your role provide a bridge between marketing and procurement, or replace some of their traditional responsibilities?

LC: Historically, procurement has had limited involvement with media. In the last couple of years, the media team has started to work more closely with procurement on an as-needed basis – to help us deal with agency contract, performance, or remuneration issues. I see myself as a conductor of the whole team, bringing in experts as and when they’re needed.

NM: What are L’Oréal Australia & New Zealand’s key priorities in media and how do these contribute to business success?

LC: On the whole, the Group, brands, and products don’t need any introduction, but the media and advertising needs of our different brands are not the same. While it’s true that as a branded goods company there are common needs across the brands, there are also some profound differences between them.

We have set up separate units within the agency to look after the different brands and to ensure that they all get attention from the agency. Our mass market brands require the most time, but we also need to ensure that our Salon Professional and Luxury brands get appropriate agency airtime.

NM: What outputs do you look for from online advertising and, specifically, programmatic?

LC: At L’Oréal Australia & New Zealand, we currently buy no digital media programmatically. We ran an experiment for six months and found that we were losing at least a third of our media spend on technology costs, overheads, and ‘other’ costs. As a result, we decided to focus on the two major players and built direct relationships with both Facebook and Google. Our ability to do precision-targeting with Facebook is exceptional, so right now we don’t feel the need to work with lots of smaller sites programmatically when we can get such good results ourselves. What’s more, as a branded goods company, we’re not looking for direct customer acquisition, and we also have our owned media channels for building communities and affinity.

NM: Our report for the ANA recommended that advertisers should appoint a Chief Media Officer – a relative rarity these days, particularly in the U.S. market. As someone with that role, how do you feel about the media transparency debate?

LC: You can never get completely on top of transparency, and it is a serious issue for the media industry. I sit in on all major presentations from the agency, and I always have my teams take me through their media plans. I’ve helped develop their skills to ensure they interrogate all the data as much as possible, to ensure that we receive the right counsel for L’Oréal. We need to be sure we’re getting and implementing the right strategies for us, not what’s right for the agencies or the agency groups. Having worked agency-side, I know what to look out for.

NM: So what challenges did you initially find when making the transition from agency-side to client-side?

LC: I was lucky. I’d run the L’Oréal Australia account for six years and understood the culture and corporate structure. I had a great relationship with all my key stakeholders, who became my colleagues. If I’d gone to a bank, say, it would have been very different. And it helps that L’Oréal is very entrepreneurial and feels and acts like an agency.

NM: And finally, what would you like to see media agencies start and stop doing?

LC: I think that agencies can provide many great benefits when they deliver genuinely objective counsel for their clients. Ensuring open and honest conversations happen at all stages of a project is key for us and what we look for from our agencies. In addition, building up the middle level of agencies is something I think is important for them to keep focused on.

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