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What's Next in Digital Performance Marketing with Gai Le Roy, IAB Australia


In this season finale of Flex Your Hustle, Michelle Lomas speaks to Gai Le Roy, CEO of IAB Australia.

The IAB is the peak trade association for online advertising in Australia. In their own words, their role is “to support sustainable and diverse investment in digital advertising across all platforms in Australia”. They are just the right kind of parent the digital advertising industry needs, and a large part of why that is, is Gai Le Roy. With a background in research and management, Gai has a wealth of experience and knowledge, and we couldn’t have asked for a stronger guest to finish the season with!

To find out more about the IAB, please visit them here: https://iabaustralia.com.au You can also listen to the IAB’s own podcast here: https://iabaustralia.com.au/iab-australia-podcast

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Episode Transcription

Michelle Lomas: Well, folks, here we are at the end of season one of Flex Your Hustle. It's been a cracker of the first season. Thank you all for listening and sharing the great feedback along the way. We've had some phenomenal guests on the show and shared some really great insights and ideas, but don't worry, we've saved a big one for the finale.

Michelle Lomas: Gai Le Roy is an industry icon. Gai's the CEO and Director of IAB Australia, Australia's peak industry body representing the digital advertising industry. Gai's mission is to represent and work with media owners, agencies, advertisers, and AdTech to drive an effective, diverse, and sustainable industry. Gai leads IAB's program to stimulate online and mobile display, as well as search investment by standardising and simplifying online audience and media.

Michelle Lomas: Something we are all very, very grateful for. Among others, her previous roles include General Manager of Audience Insights and research at Fairfax Media, Insights Manager at Nine MSN, Programs Manager at IAB Australia, and VP Research and Audience Measurement at Nielsen Online. We asked Gai to join the show to share her thoughts on the future of digital and performance marketing and make sense of some of the things we've heard on the show.

Michelle Lomas: We talked about the future of performance media, the talent shortage, what a cookie-less world really means and what to expect from the Metaverse. It's a compelling lesson, so stick around.

Michelle Lomas: Gai, thank you for joining us today.

Gai Le Roy: Thanks, Michelle.

Michelle Lomas: So for some of the people listening, they might have heard of the IAB, they might have been to an event or seen some of your research, but maybe they're not overly familiar with everything that you do, and particularly the impact that you have on the digital marketing industry.

Michelle Lomas: So can you give us a bit of a rundown on who is the IAB and what do you do?

Gai Le Roy: Certainly, I guess I'll start with what the IAB stands for cause I think people often know us, but forget what it stands for.

Michelle Lomas: Yes.

Gai Le Roy: So it's the Interactive Advertising Bureau. Bureau is quite a fun word to have in a-

Michelle Lomas: It is, it's very formal.

Gai Le Roy: Sometimes we get confused with IAS and ING and all the other acronyms.

Michelle Lomas: Yeah.

Gai Le Roy: So we are a industry association, I represent the local chapter. In Australia there are forty-five different IABs around the world. And each country sort of has their own flavour, so we're a network, we have shared resources, shared standards, but we all tailor, um, what we need for the local market and are run by local boards, making sure that the industry can operate efficiently.

Gai Le Roy: That people can invest with confidence. So, way back in the early days, some of the initial work that the IAB did was basically what size should a banner be?

Michelle Lomas: I remember those days actually. Or how do we do third party tracking?

Gai Le Roy: Yeah. But like early on, and particularly when any industry starts, it's sort of organic growth.

Gai Le Roy: And early days there were, like, 20 different sizes of banners, which meant creative agencies, they loved it 'cause they got to create 20 different versions and charge for them. But it wasn't a particularly efficient way, so over the years we keep sort of working on different standards as different formats come out, different ways of operating, policy, measurement, all those sort of, I think they're fun.

Gai Le Roy: Some people don't think they're fun. Then on the flip side, so as any good parent, we allow a bit of growth. So, celebrating new, showcasing great creative, um, community, all those sort of nice, softer feels. I guess they're the, they're the two roles that we play. And over the years as the industry's grown, we've grown our community.

Gai Le Roy: Very early on it was very much about the big publishers who were making most of the money and the main players there. So the Fairfaxs, and News and brands that sort of don't exist anymore, the Yahoo Sevens and Nine MSNs and when Telstra are big in media. But now we're a community about 180 different organisations.

Gai Le Roy: Again, still all the publishers, but AdTech, increasingly agencies who have a lot more in common across particularly data and targeting and advertisers who are both, I guess, there's a few reasons they come to us. It's either they could be in-housing their agency agreements, they could be ensuring that their marketing teams are really across the latest and greatest, and particularly when handling consumer data.

Gai Le Roy: Or they might be monetising their own data sources. Everyone's roles are sort of merged and changed over the years. It's a really important role, i do feel the, and, and the team, I know, feel the responsibility of doing the right thing for the industry. We're really lucky 'cause we get to, um, I'm quite a voyeur, so we get to see all of it happening and hearing what's going on across the field.

Michelle Lomas: Well, you guys are such a voice of authority in the industry in Australia and globally too, obviously because you were tapped into such a big global network and it's obviously because of that fact that you do get to see and work with so many people within the industry. And I know from a benchmark perspective, first place I go, I need some benchmarks on something.

Michelle Lomas: I'm going to IAB and see what's on the website.

Gai Le Roy: That's lovely.

Michelle Lomas: So on this show, we're gonna talk a little bit about some of the trends that are happening in marketing at the moment so that our listeners maybe can sort of tap into what's happening, maybe apply it within their business. But we do love a hustle story on this podcast, obviously.

Michelle Lomas: So I'd love to hear a little bit about you Gai, you've been CEO of IAB for five years now

Gai Le Roy: Around that.

Michelle Lomas: Yeah. Yep. So how did you get into the role?

Gai Le Roy: I'm a CEO that never wanted to be a CEO. I'm an introvert who was just an intellectual snob for many years. So my background's in insights, research, strategy, sociology is my background.

Gai Le Roy: So I just really loved understanding human behaviour trends at large. Worked for many years on the publisher side, trying to work out what content needed to be built, what partnerships needed to be made, getting my head across analytics over the years. So that was my sort of deep area of specialisation.

Gai Le Roy: I thought I would stay in that world forever. You know, I sort of like to think of myself as the, the Chief of Staff, so make the boss look good rather than myself on stage. I always thought the, the CEO had to be like a, a Gary V type or, um, something, horrific, you know, hustler on stage.

Michelle Lomas: I could never see you like Gary V doing those like little LinkedIn videos and-

Gai Le Roy: Exactly.

Michelle Lomas: It's not your style.

Gai Le Roy: But I guess after seeing leaders that I loved and leaders that I thought were in that for the wrong reasons, or they're just the wrong fit. At the ripe old age of, you know, when the kids were older, I went, bugger it, yeah, no, it's my turn.

Gai Le Roy: I can do this. It's a great, not only for me, but an example of being a different type of leader. And I know that's resonated in the community, both female, but also not having to be that classic salesperson on all the time. It's quite a good fit for the brand, so the brand's gotta be credible and I feel like I bring that hopefully.

Michelle Lomas: You definitely do, your reputation in the industry, people trust you.

Gai Le Roy: Yeah.

Michelle Lomas: And you know, they need to trust the IAB and, and you just, you just exude trust.

Gai Le Roy: That's lovely. I feel having worked in digital since about 98, 97, you know, the perspective of trends coming and going, what's gonna stay, what's to be cynical about what not to be cynical about.

Gai Le Roy: Hopefully that sort of longevity in the industry has built my muscle up to do that. But look, I, I've loved being ceo, like, I must say, it was a, a surprise to me how much I, I enjoy it. And, um, again, I think that nurturing feeling that across the industry. But, you know, having, I guess my children are grown up now and sort of outta my hands.

Gai Le Roy: I wouldn't say right outta my hands.

Michelle Lomas: They never are. Totally.

Gai Le Roy: I've got my new, new little baby to look after and, and help grow.

Michelle Lomas: Well, I guess it's just that misconception that a CEO has to be a certain way. Women bring certainly a, a different side of things to the CEO role and I'm glad to hear you doing it.

Michelle Lomas: I love that you started off in that sort of curiosity around human behaviour and that's probably driven you to be the great CEO that you are, 'cause inherently that's what marketing is, right? It's just an analysis on human behaviour and predicting what happens next off the back of that. Right.

Gai Le Roy: Exactly. Understanding partnerships, growth, how people connect.

Michelle Lomas: So let's get into the meaty stuff. What's keeping you up at the moment? What are you curious about? What are some of the trends happening that you are having some really interesting conversations about?

Gai Le Roy: Okay, so I'll start with the philosophically interesting, and then I'll go to the harder bits and pieces.

Gai Le Roy: Over the last year or so, I've been fascinated to see, it's, it's not new, new, but media brands becoming sort of deeper engaged in the commerce space. So offering shopable formats, getting really deeper into that, that commerce offering, and then on the flip side, we're seeing all these big commerce brands wanting to become media brands.

Gai Le Roy: We're seeing Woolies with Cartology, we've seen Cole's media brought out their offering, Walmart Media in the States is huge. So those two worlds sort of, you know, trying to almost mimic each other and meet in the middle, which is offering some amazing innovation for both consumers and brands.

Gai Le Roy: Where they show up, who they show up with, what partnership looks like across the area. That one I just find, find really, really interesting and I'll be interested to see where it eventually ends. Like philosophically, what is a media environment has changed so much from classic content to particularly within affiliate, you've got, you know, Commonwealth Banks, a Publisher and Afterpay, and that just blows my mind sometimes thinking of them that way.

Michelle Lomas: Even Amazon, Amazon do not wanna be seen as a retailer, you know, they wanna be seen as a media platform. Same, same thing. It's like, Oh, I buy everything on Amazon. Like, yeah. It'll be interesting to see as well with that trend what happens to the teams and to experts if all of that starts to merge.

Gai Le Roy: Yes. And you know, the battle for talent at the moment is so hard and how people choose where they wanna work in terms of what they're currently offering, but what that company could offer in the future, in, in terms of product.

Gai Le Roy: Every organisational brand has in the mind what they wanna be seen as, even like the TikTok don't wanna be seen as social media. They're an entertainment something. I forget they're gonna kill me for that. But, you know, everyone's got their own framework on what they, they should be seen as.

Gai Le Roy: So that's the fun stuff, the stuff that keeps me up at night in terms of making sure our industry can operate still. That sounds like a really horrible thing to stay up at night dreaming about. But is I guess on the privacy and tracking side of things and the changes there, and making sure the ecosystem that we've built can change in a effective way and for the right reasons. So obviously consumer scrutiny on data sharing as the industry's grown, both consumer and government scrutiny is growing. There's changes there, we've seen already privacy regulation change in a whole lot of markets as well as some of the Tech companies taking control with stopping tracking, whether that be Apple. Everyone's probably sick of hearing about cookies going away, but all those tech side of things. So making sure that we can create an environment for consumers where it's not too clunky. But also allow marketers to understand what their investment has done in a way that's sophisticated.

Gai Le Roy: So my great fear is that we go back 10 years in terms of very much just looking at last click, looking at really silo pieces of info, having that really cross marketing viewpoint and understanding the marketing science behind that. You know, it's easy or it's affordable for really large companies to sort of invest in market mix modeling and really doing sort of experimental design. It's harder for smaller companies to, to pull those pieces together in a meaningful way. So that's probably the area that we, as an IAB it's sort of cause it goes across targeting, measurement, government work, all of it touches everything that we spend a lot of working on.

Michelle Lomas: It's an important topic, especially, I think there was a lot of panic a couple of years ago when the news came out and then there was this, I think it was almost, uh, 2020 or 2021. It's gonna happen and no one was really prepared for it. But we in Australia seem to have been kind of like delayed in a way.

Michelle Lomas: It's happening a little slower than in the other markets. What learnings are you seeing that maybe some of the smaller brands that are listening today who don't have the infrastructure to be able to prepare as well as some of the bigger brands, what can you tell them?

Gai Le Roy: I think we've learned a lot from the last few years and we've seen different changes in different markets as well as technology, and I think firstly all of this has been naturally going away anyway. So the first thing is don't be too scared 'cause we're already on the path. There'll be some big changes, but it's not like it's, you know,

Michelle Lomas: It's gonna happen overnight.

Gai Le Roy: Exactly.

Michelle Lomas: Yeah.

Gai Le Roy: From a policy point of view in Australia, so when the government change is gonna come in, we're still probably at least 18 months from it being law. Not to say don't prepare earlier, but in terms of that legal change, we're probably looking at that sort of timeframe. Which is probably gonna be not that far out from when Google make the big changes, so there'll be a lot of synergy there. But what I would suggest, so we've seen in Europe GDPR, which is their privacy regulation, being quite painful for consumers and for brands. It's been a very active type of consent, so I'm sure anyone who's gone to a European site has just been clicking away consent notices left, right, and centre, which is sort of meaningless 'cause you're not reading them.

Gai Le Roy: So it's a bad experience for both sides. There's a lot of encouragement in the industry into creating sites, creating UXs that have a lot more of the privacy baked in. People have probably heard the term sort of privacy by design, so if you are a brand, think about that consumer experience.

Gai Le Roy: How can I minimise data processing that I don't need to do and data collection that I'm just collecting for the sake of it. And really being transparent up front rather than sort of trying to give them a notice that's in legal talk that they, they won't understand. So really trusted open relationship and really do think about that user experience and try and build it in rather than having it at the back end where it's just quite painful.

Gai Le Roy: But I'm looking forward to having those sort of user experiences a bit better, I'd suggest anyone read up on what's been called PETs. We love an acronym in this industry, so Privacy Enhancing Technologies. Which there's a range of different types, but get yourself across those and think what works for your business.

Michelle Lomas: And I imagine the flip side of this is that some of your tactics, and I guess probably a better way to put it is your focus on more of your own channels is gonna become increasingly more important because nurturing those leads that you get in your existing companies and and focusing much more on retention will be extremely important given that it will become harder to find and attract new consumers.

Gai Le Roy: I'd say your own brand and channels for two reasons. So yes, that retention piece will be really important, but the trust of your brand, word of mouth will attract new customers as well. When we do any research around consumers concern around data sharing, giving data over, the brand that they're sharing with is really, really important.

Gai Le Roy: Is it a trusted brand? Do they have a relationship? Is it a site they've just gone to once and not going to, again, they're less likely to give information. So think about that brand investment and how you show up and how you communicate with consumers in the same way across all channel.

Michelle Lomas: We were talking about that a little earlier in terms of the need for kind of that increased education, do you think that's a responsibility of brands when consumers are coming to the site to say exactly how their data will be used and how easy it is to, you know, say no, and what that means?

Gai Le Roy: Yeah, and it's, it's both brands and as an industry. So having some consistency across the whole ecosystem will help consumers not have to think. There'll be some things that are almost reasonable usage cases where you don't have to explain that. So we're hoping when we do get privacy reform that some of that really natural analytics stuff that needs to be built in, not only from a commercial point of view, but from a giving the consumer the best experience, personalised experience is a given.

Gai Le Roy: I think the thing that brands really need to think about are those partnerships because if data is being shared in any format with someone else, that is where consumers get jumpy. So really communicating that and partnering with people that you trust.

Michelle Lomas: So let's come back to that merging of upper funnel and lower funnel cause it's a really interesting space and you know, as we start to have the whole merger of brand drives performance and performance drives brand and everything needs to be trackable and accountable and drive to a sale.

Michelle Lomas: What can brands learn about what's happening in this space and some of the cool applications that can happen?

Gai Le Roy: We're at a really interesting time, and I don't want to spook the market, but there's some pressure on the economy and consumer confidence as well, so, firstly, I'm a little bit worried, I'm already seeing people sort of shift to more performance. So performance is obviously good, but almost it's safe. Yeah. But also don't look too desperate. It feels very, you know, if you've got messaging, just make sure there is some brand element in there as well. That would be my first advice, so don't forget about upper funnel spend.

Michelle Lomas: It's so important as well, especially if consumers are becoming much more discerning. Yes, the bottom line, you know, they're gonna pick something based on a need, but they are going to choose a brand that they want to spend their money on if they're not just spending freely.

Michelle Lomas: Right?

Gai Le Roy: Absolutely. There's some, you know, great modeling that everyone can have a look at.

Gai Le Roy: We use a lot of work from analytic partners, so if anyone wants to look up their work and they, they do some great modeling on what that brand investment does from a sales point of view, short term and long term. The great way to sell that into your CFO or the Founder who doesn't wanna spend on the brand side of things.

Gai Le Roy: It has ongoing return, finance, people love hearing that it's gonna give back in year two and year three and brand investment does that. You obviously need a balance of both. Make sure that you've got that in mind.

Michelle Lomas: Mm. That's really good advice. And so, you know what, I guess what's the opportunity?

Michelle Lomas: Like, how can some of the new technology coming in that's making content more shopable, like what are some of the opportunities that brands can tap into?

Gai Le Roy: Yeah, so definitely shopable content is huge and we're seeing it across social and content players as well. You need to think about that creative piece there.

Gai Le Roy: I think we're still learning what works there exactly, 'cause you really wanna make that exciting, but you know, that call to action's still being strong.

Michelle Lomas: It's evolving so fast as well. I feel like we're at that point, you know, like 15 years ago, the whole millennials impacting the way that we see content and engage with content, and now we've got Gen Z coming into the world who are changing that again.

Michelle Lomas: So I feel like we're at this great, really interesting time where everything's moving.

Gai Le Roy: Yeah, but It's the same story, everything's slow and then it's fast. We've been talking about shopable social stuff probably for 15 years.

Michelle Lomas: Yeah, it's very true. Yeah.

Gai Le Roy: We were all gonna be buying cars online. I remember doing a research piece and probably pitching it.

Gai Le Roy: You know, when I was at Nine MSN that, you know, people were gonna be transacting and buying cars in about 2000. We are just getting there now so, yes, everything's fast, but, you know, maybe that's a point. Look to history, look to failed examples or things that were too early. 'Cause they undoubtedly come back in a way when the technology is ready.

Michelle Lomas: And the consumer is ready. That's right. It's their behaviour as well, isn't it? Realistically, the technology could and has been there for a while. It's more so getting there, waiting for the consumer to catch up and go, Okay, I'm ready to do this now.

Gai Le Roy: Yeah. But, but definitely transacting through ads.

Gai Le Roy: We spent many years on sort of those micropayments, but people feeling more comfortable having smaller payments. Marketplaces are growing. It does create a lot of work for brands, so we've seen, you know, particularly DTC companies who have launched successfully on social, had amazing impact, had their core consumers, and then when they're looking to grow, you know, where else they show up, how they do that.

Gai Le Roy: And that takes work to make sure that you're spread across different environments and you're trialing different things as well.

Michelle Lomas: Talking about trialing different things. I know you've been a champion for affiliate marketing for quite some time, and of course the Commission Factory team speak very highly of you and the support that you have offered.

Michelle Lomas: So what is it about affiliate marketing that you like and you think is so exciting?

Gai Le Roy: Oh look, I think it's fun. Like it's, that sounds sort of flippant, but I don't mean that it's sort of, cuz it does bridge that gap between, you know, really hardcore performance, and what people often see is the classic sort of digital advertising side of things.

Gai Le Roy: I like that they're creative and I like that they think, particularly in a partnership way, outside the box sounds really cliched but they, they really do. It's, it's really about coming back to first principles, you know, where are the people? In classic media we would talk about it as audience, and it is, but it's broader than that.

Gai Le Roy: Where are the people and where's a good fit for brands? What's gonna add value both sides. I think that's often forgotten in some media environments. It's very much pushing whereas in affiliate it does really feel like that equal partnership and I love how much they love publishers.

Gai Le Roy: That's quite novel 'cause often in the classic media sort of side of things, publishers feel like, you know, they're an important piece of the chain, but they're often more at the bottom supply end. Whereas in affiliate, they're really honoured which I adore. So I've loved watching it grow from, you know, what we sort of think as classic affiliate.

Gai Le Roy: There was a lot of rewards area. Now you've got huge publishers like News Corp and Are Media really embracing it. Brands like, you know, you Comm Banks and your Afterpays. So that breadth of options is fascinating.

Michelle Lomas: It's a very dynamic space. Very, There are so many different options and I think people maybe if they haven't stepped in and really had a chat to the experts in the industry, or like the Commission Factory team for example, you wouldn't really understand just how many opportunities there are.

Michelle Lomas: It's not the traditional, I'll send out a coupon or, I mean there is that, or you know, working with influencers, but there's so much more, cashback solutions, et cetera. So yeah, it's a very dynamic space and feel like the team are always very creative.

Gai Le Roy: Absolutely, and, and look, they understand the market at the pointy end.

Gai Le Roy: So even though we're talking about brand coming into, they do understand what's selling, what's moving, you know, understanding when travel's coming back, you know? Yes. So I love watching across the industry. You're getting these different signals that can really help brands understand. Where that consumer cycle is.

Gai Le Roy: So whether it be from search queries, which is often that first sort of people looking for holidays in Croatia again. Then in the affiliate space you really do see what products shifting and what messages work so you can really optimise constantly to suit the market.

Michelle Lomas: Yeah. And that's it, I guess it should be complimentary to everything else that you're doing. We almost see affiliate is, it should just be that always on channel to continue to keep going and just building that baseline of performance.

Gai Le Roy: Yeah. And just, you know, one thing I'm a big advocate for, so trying different things, but also trying different creative.

Gai Le Roy: Often we forget, we often work on messaging in affiliate but just the actual look, feel. Yeah. Don't under underestimate how much that works. When we look at sort of the impact of any investment, particularly in the more brand side of things. About 50% of the impact comes from the creative.

Gai Le Roy: Often it's, we don't give it that amount of attention. So make sure all the elements of that effectiveness are sort of in play to make sure you get the best return you can as a business.

Michelle Lomas: Comes back to that marrying of the brand and performance, and why it actually is important, right?

Gai Le Roy: Yeah. But also the components. So making sure that the environment's right, audience is right, the targeting piece, the creatives right. It's a recipe to make sure that your brand works properly. Just everyone's recipe will be different, so it's quite hard sometimes when brands sort of wanna know what percentage should I be spending on this or that.

Michelle Lomas: You've got to trial it. Yeah. And you've gotta figure it out. And you've gotta recognise that you need to invest long term because there will be shifts and changes and you're gonna learn surprising things that you never thought your brand could do or would do.

Gai Le Roy: And that's your competitive advantage, right? If you're doing the same as someone else, if you're doing a copycat for one of competitors, yeah. You know, you're not gonna get that extra 5%, 10% that you could get if you tried something different.

Michelle Lomas: That's so true.

Michelle Lomas: So on this show, we feature a lot of different brands, large and small. And what we keep hearing from these brands is that the channels that traditionally drove great performance for them, namely search and social, are becoming much more expensive to achieve the same results. What's your perspective on that?

Gai Le Roy: It's true and it's true for a couple of reasons. More brands are showing up in those areas, so you know, the competitive nature of auction type environments as well as sort of standing out, getting that share of voice in the environments is harder. You know, the rule that goes across sort of advertising and marketing is making sure you diversify your spend.

Gai Le Roy: So every research piece that we do shows that the more channels within reason that you, where you show up the, the better result that you'll have. Cause consumers will see you in different environments. There'll be lovely triggers, you know, it's not just that one brand I saw in a particular social platform 40 or 50 times.

Gai Le Roy: It's, you know, as the consumer goes across their day, they're showing up. Having that mix is really important and there's some great new areas. So I guess there's increasingly a bigger range of social platforms or platforms that are there, marketplaces, affiliate areas, content environments, big growth in audio. So podcasting, streaming-

Michelle Lomas: There sure is.

Gai Le Roy: Audio.

Michelle Lomas: There sure is.

Gai Le Roy: And even out of homes been really interesting, so very interesting space. Branding area, but as it goes programmatic and as we start getting a lot more inventory in markets, so not only the classic big billboards, but you've now got signage in supermarkets or near supermarkets. We're starting to see brands use that in a broader range of ways. So there's performance actually coming into digital at home, which is, Which is really interesting. Harder to measure sometimes, but you can, you know, I would suggest with any of those sort of ones where the tracking might not be linked into your classic platforms ,go old school, do experimental design. It sounds a bit IT Crowd, but turn it on, turn it off again. Try one state try another state. Think about those sort of really classic marketing experiments that you can do. There's so many options and so many places you can show up.

Gai Le Roy: Obviously, don't spread the spend so thin that you can't tell what a particular activation or is doing for you.

Michelle Lomas: Don't do it too short either. Give it time to grow into flourish and so that you can get, you know, you need a few months worth of learnings before you can decide if something's working for you.

Michelle Lomas: Right?

Gai Le Roy: Yeah. And again, I'm gonna say change the creative, think about the environment.

Michelle Lomas: Yeah.

Gai Le Roy: It's gonna need a different thing. It'll need a different thing within Instagram to TikTok.

Michelle Lomas: Yeah.

Gai Le Roy: Let alone, you know, if you're in a eCommerce environment or wherever else you are. So just keep tailoring.

Michelle Lomas: The answer to that is, or the advice I should say, is don't turn it off, just get creative.

Gai Le Roy: Exactly.

Michelle Lomas: Yeah.

Gai Le Roy: Yeah. And just, you know, always have that classic 10% where you do something wacky. You know, try something wild, have fun. Then play around with the always on stuff, and again, it's that recipe piece. If something's becoming too expensive cause it's too crowded, find somewhere else where it's not crowded.

Gai Le Roy: Maybe that's life advice, you know?

Michelle Lomas: Yes.

Gai Le Roy: You don't wanna be, um, yeah drowned out.

Michelle Lomas: That leads to sort of my next question around talent because it does take, I think, good performance people to understand what else can I try? What are maybe some of the levers that I can pull and to have that energy to continue to keep going and optimising.

Michelle Lomas: But there is a bit of a talent shortage out there, we should say, for expertise, what are you seeing in the market?

Gai Le Roy: Definitely huge talent shortage and performance marketing is one of the, one of the areas that's right up there. We put out a talent report that was sort of looking at the market in July.

Gai Le Roy: I feel that we did the field work the very week where it peaked. So huge, doubling, you know, year on year amount of jobs that are available in the market. There's about 1800 jobs open at the moment in the digital advertising, let alone the digital marketing, the broader field at the moment. Yeah, so a lot of competition across the field and a lot of churn.

Gai Le Roy: So particular hot spot is for people sort of around that three to five years, which I know in affiliate marketing is, you know, about half the market is sort of they, they younger or newer I should say. Yeah, not younger age group. So you're gonna be in competition with a lot of people. Prices have gone up, so I guess recommendations. If you've got someone, treat them as well as you can, try and keep them.

Michelle Lomas: Nurture them, for goodness sakes.

Gai Le Roy: Give all these young people exactly what they ask for. No, not quite.

Michelle Lomas: Within reason, but yes.

Gai Le Roy: Yeah. Within reason.

Michelle Lomas: Take care of your people.

Gai Le Roy: You may need to look for an agency for the first time.

Gai Le Roy: I know a lot of smaller brands have done a lot of everything in house. You might need to outsource some of that locally or globally, share resources that we're seeing a lot of sharing resources across teams if you've got global organisation. A bit of outsourcing, but yeah, if you can find someone who's data driven and curious and loves experimenting, that's the perfect person. Not to be a Debbie Downer, but there's probably good news and bad news in that I feel like that we're starting to see the market cool a little bit for talent. So it's definitely still high demand but we're starting to see some redundancy in tech companies locally and globally.

Gai Le Roy: It will still be always a challenge to find the very best people. I'd imagine in six months it won't be quite as severe as it is now. Changes in the economy, just probably some changes post-COVID too. You've had some brands that have gone very, very hard on online and eCommerce while everything was shut down and we're seeing some of them having to sort of tailor their offerings, their skills as people go back in store, you know, toning down some of their messaging. So there'll be some changes.

Michelle Lomas: If you find a good one, keep on 'em, keep 'em happy.

Gai Le Roy: Yeah. And keep them training, the great thing in this space, there's so much great free training, so finding if you find the right person, and they're really curious.

Gai Le Roy: It doesn't all have to be monetary reward. Do your courses that Twitch offer or Pinterest or the IAB Affiliate Course, like making sure they feel like they're up to date is gonna be really, really vital. And if you do get that right curious person, trying a new platform is fun for them.

Michelle Lomas: Get users who use the platform too. I think there's a really great benefit of, particularly some of the young kids coming in. They use a lot of the new platforms that maybe some of us oldies are not as familiar with, but there's so much opportunity there to drive performance as well.

Gai Le Roy: Diversity in thinking and type of talent. So if you're a company looking at going into Asia, there's amazing foreign students in market. You know, whenever I, I do a bit of guest lecturing at UTS and they've got a quite large Chinese student cohort within their MBA and in their marketing field.

Gai Le Roy: And they teach me way more around super apps, so think about how your company is like to grow. Shape, size, location, and start thinking about how can I bring in thinking that really understands those new markets and those new consumers.

Michelle Lomas: Mm, That's so true. Like the apps, like Weebo, et cetera, that we don't have in this market that are huge overseas.

Michelle Lomas: Let's wrap up with a look at the future. I know you're not a futurist, but you do look at trends. What do you think's coming our way?

Gai Le Roy: With trends I always try to remind myself of the person that I was when the internet was launching, so I was very lucky to be in those early days, and I remember the crusty old white men at that point who were in TV, probably still there some of them.

Michelle Lomas: Probably. Some yeah.

Gai Le Roy: They were like this internet thing, never gonna go anywhere.

Michelle Lomas: Oh my goodness.

Gai Le Roy: It's not gonna be anything. Why are you wasting our time?

Michelle Lomas: I remember telling a brand, I'm not gonna tell you who it is, but it's a big one, why they needed a website.

Michelle Lomas: Oh, it's silly. Who's gonna go to a website? You know? Now look at them. I'd love to just have a chat with that person again.

Gai Le Roy: So it helps me not to be too cynical of, of new things that on the horizon. So obviously there's a lot of talk about Metaverse and Web 3 at the moment and NFTs. I'm fascinated by it.

Gai Le Roy: I'm not sure I can understand exactly where it's gonna go, and I don't think anyone knows that. And at the moment it's an interesting space, we're probably trying to make it look like the internet, but in 3D rather than really thinking what it can do for brands and for the world. Really fascinated what it can do for the education space.

Gai Le Roy: But definitely retailers have embraced it in other markets. Again, when we're talking about trying things, give it a go. Make sure if you have got a young person on your team, make them go and try and buy an NFT or you know, just take part in that environment because probably there's not as much traffic audience people in some of those spaces as there will be great, time to learn.

Gai Le Roy: Yeah, I think that's definitely in some shape or form gonna be an important part of the future. I love the democratisation of, you know, that ownership piece as well. So when we're talking about consumers understanding privacy, them understanding what they own, where they own it, how they can trade it is gonna be incredibly important in that space.

Gai Le Roy: So a really different way of thinking about selling opportunity to brands, you know, particularly if you're not selling always just a physical good. How can you make the most of that and keep the value there? Really excited to see where gaming goes. So that sort of fits on the side of that, again, when we're talking about things that are gonna be hot for the last 15 years, gaming's been there, but it really feels like it's the time now, and tech's helping with that. So tech, making sure that brands feel safe, showing up in places. So that brand safety piece has always been a bit of a barrier in some of the gaming environments. But I guess we've got brands that are willing to take risks, who are willing to be cheeky, you know, willing to be younger and less conservative, but also then having the tech that can help them sort of ensure that they're not showing up in places where they really don't want their brand associated.

Gai Le Roy: Really fascinated with digital home where it goes, signages. Yeah, look, I think they're the big ones at the moment and everything just expanding constantly, so media commerce element, everything blurring a little bit and the constant battle and the future of trying to get marketing science right.

Gai Le Roy: That's sounds boring, but we constantly have to reinvent how we assess the success of marketing as everything changes, and I'd love to say cookies go away, we create a new ID and guys, you're set for five years, but you're always gonna be needing to revisit not only what you do, but how you work out what's working.

Michelle Lomas: Great advice. Thank you. Well, thank you for joining us today. Really appreciate all your thoughts, insights, thinking. I'm sure that the listeners are gonna get a lot out of this. And as a final thought, how can brands or agencies work with you and get access to all this great information that you have to share?

Gai Le Roy: Most of our information is freely available on our website so iabaustralia.com.au. We have a podcast, a competing podcast with, with guests, you know, giving sort of deeper advice. But there are a lot of resources, there are a lot of white papers and case studies. So one of our most popular areas is just for people to go in and just go, I need inspiration, I need to think differently, see what other brands are doing.

Michelle Lomas: I need to validate my idea.

Gai Le Roy: Exactly.

Michelle Lomas: Can it work? Yeah.

Gai Le Roy: Lots of information there, lots of videos, um, love brands who just wanna visit, get ideas, come to our events.

Michelle Lomas: The events are fantastic.

Gai Le Roy: The events are, are fantastic and they're fun, like the community element of our industry, we undersell that human factor. I think everyone is now sort of desperate to be back at events. But make sure it's not just the senior people coming to events, get the younger people there, get the juniors. We love seeing them there.

Michelle Lomas: Yeah.

Gai Le Roy: It's a great thing for both career development, but mental health as well.

Michelle Lomas: Talking to fellow, you know, people in the industry, you all share the same stories. You can learn a bit from each other. So yeah. The events are great, they're free, they're free for everyone to join. Encourage everybody if you are not familiar with the IAB to jump on board and to sign up.

Gai Le Roy: Our wonderful affiliate working group, you know, great mix of people who are constantly trying to think of ways to excite and improve the industry. They've got new projects coming up, so feel free to reach out to, to any of us. We're there to help and grow the industry and create a wonderful world of marketing.

Michelle Lomas: Gai, thank you for your time. We're very grateful to have you on the show and grateful for your contribution to the industry.

Gai Le Roy: Pleasure, thanks, Michelle.

Michelle Lomas: What an episode to end on for season one, and that's a wrap. We sincerely hope that you enjoyed all the guests on the first season of Flex Your Hustle and got some good tips or inspiration for your own hustles. It's been an absolute pleasure for me to speak to so many amazingly talented people who've built and grown such phenomenal businesses.

Michelle Lomas: A big thank you to all the guests who took the time out of their day to share their stories and inspire so many others. And a very big thank you to the Commission Factory team for making this podcast possible. It's been an absolute pleasure to work with Zane McIntyre, Sophie Metcalfe, Emily Do, and the whole team there.

Michelle Lomas: If you are interested in affiliate marketing, reach out to the team as you really won't find a more amiable and talented bunch. Now, don't worry, we'll be back soon. But in the meantime, we would love if you could give a rating or review on Apple, Spotify, or wherever you can. Flex Your Hustle is a Commission Factory podcast produced by Ampel.

Michelle Lomas: I'm Michelle Lomas. Keep hustling and bye for now.