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Brains Trust - Coming to Australia

The Australian advertising and media landscape is becoming increasingly competitive with both home-grown and overseas businesses entering our market at an unprecedented rate particularly - but not solely - in the digital media sector.

Here we ask MediaScope's Brains Trust to share their tips by responding to the question...

What insights and advice can you offer to media businesses looking to enter and set up in the Australian market? 


Jonas Jaanimagi - Head of Media Strategy & Operations - REA GroupMediaScope Brains Trust - Coming to Australia

Having helped to manage two satellite offices for digital media businesses in the past, I have some fairly strong opinions on what to consider when entering a new market.

 Ultimately it comes down to capabilities and is best summarised by three P's. Products, Processes and People.

Any large established digital business considering entering a foreign market is most likely to have a relatively solid track record of success. Therefore the products and processes should be sound and well established. The trick however, is to not force any particular business model or pre-defined product strategy on the local team. Instead seek to support and enable a local strategy that meets the needs and trends of the local marketplace, whilst still providing the core resources that allow them to execute the plans. Each local market tends to have its own local quirks and it takes something genuinely unique to come in and create demand for something new from the very start.

This localised approach must also apply to the people. It's often hard for foreigners to enter a new market and very quickly assimilate. It often takes years for those on the ground to both fully empathise with local demand and establish real credibility. Finding local talent and fully empowering them to define, setup and execute a relevant local strategy is critical. The parent company should naturally ensure that the plan is sound in terms of both commercials and concept but never dismiss key elements simply because they are different in anyway.

Focus instead upon those three P’s. Hire the right local people, enable them via sound processes and then empower them to define and execute their own appropriate product strategy.

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Duncan Arthur - Commercial Director - Guardian AustraliaMediaScope Brains Trust - Coming to Australia

Do your research: understand the local market; talk to as many potential clients or customers as you can; understand what your competitors do or don't do well. Get absolutely clear on why the local market should value you. Run the numbers thoroughly. If you can't find clear space to occupy then chances are your potential clients won't find it either.

 Companies looking at regional expansion should understand that being successful in another market is not a guarantee they'll do well in Australia. Things do work differently here and you gloss over those differences at your peril. Success comes from better understanding of our culture, geography, population and lots of other factors besides. Local knowledge, perspective and contacts is mandatory. If you behave like a visiting foreigner you will be treated like one.

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Ayal Steiner - General Manager - Outbrain Aust & NZMediaScope Brains Trust - Coming to Australia


Our experience entering the Australian market has been a very positive one. We found the Australian and New Zealand marketers and media agencies to be friendly, open to new ideas and willing to engage and try new things.


My first advice to any new business coming to Australia is to leverage your international experience and case studies as much as possible to move faster and cut through.


Especially in case of large international brands. If you have done business with them globally, connecting local decision makers to their overseas peers will go a long way and will save you time.


My second advice will be to hire partners. Not employees, but rather real partners. People who are willing to work with you, sweat with you and do what it takes to grow and establish your business here. As they say, “Team spirit eats strategy for breakfast”.


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Sue Davies - Partner - *S2MxMediaScope Brains Trust - Coming to Australia

There have been many business’s/Agencies that have arrived on Australian shores full of hope and promise yet have subsequently left not too many months later.  There are, on the other hand, many that have arrived, set up shop and have become highly successful. 

What is that key ingredient in a Talent short market that allows unknowns or indeed well established overseas brands to become successful?


The answer lies in the key TALENT. The key employee that is required to roll their sleeves up and get the job done. Even if you are a recognised brand setting up on Australian shores, you still need local knowledge, you need someone on the ground that gets the way we do business here.  You need someone with a network that spans client contacts and talent, yes, people.


It is essential that the new business employs someone that fits their culture, someone that breathes  in sync with their brand, a person that can communicate that to the local market.  Australia no longer tolerates people with over inflated egos trying to preach a new form of advertising/media communication but it does appreciate a person who knows the market, understand the key players and has as general respect for the way things happen here. 


That’s not to say that Australia doesn’t want International thought leaders as  part of the industry here, they are more than welcome but if you want to succeed as a ‘New kid on the block’ get that key founding employee right because that will lead to the right founding clients and the prosperity of your brand and your business.


*S2Mx is the Executive Search business that sits aside S2M Digital placing the Executive leaders of today’s Media, Technology, Communications and Digital business’s.


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Rob Pyne - Founder - X or Y DecisionsMediaScope Brains Trust - Coming to Australia

The Ease of Doing Business index, run by the World Bank every year since 2001, shows Australia in a good spot as the 11th easiest place to do business in the world, just behind the UK (10th), US (4th), New Zealand (3rd) and Singapore (1st). There are a number of ways any media business launching an Australian business can make good decisions around launch time to have a relatively pain free entry into our Antipodean paradise.

The first way is to try and avoid over-confidence. Base your forecasts on independent data, and take into account data which supports, and data which contradicts, your views. Human tendency is to search for data that supports what we think and fail to search for – or even hide from – data which tells us things we don’t want to hear. This is called the confirmation bias and is a killer in new businesses. Listen and take note of people who tell you you’re going to fail, thank them for their opinion and use their points (if they are fact-based) to shore up your plans.

The second way is to look for case studies and examples to understand the time it took them to get profitable and the unexpected costs they incurred on the way. This can help you avoid what’s called the Planning Fallacy, where we fail to plan accurately and projects take twice as long and are half as profitable as we estimated. The classic case of this Planning Fallacy is an Australian one: the Sydney Opera House which was 10 years late and 14 times over budget.

The last area I recommend is the Lean Start Up approach: fail quickly and cheaply,  and make sure you validate your learnings and have enough money in the bank for plan B – it’s very often plan B or C that works, not plan A. Ask James Dyson who had to make over 5,000 prototypes of his vacuum cleaner before he nailed it.

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David Holmes - CEO - AIMIA

MediaScope Brains Trust - Coming to Australia

Test your content on Australian users. If you are internationally focused you probably already have analytics data on AU visitors to your site. Make sure you have a local take on your content. If your commercial model is predominantly advertising, develop a solid sales team with existing agency relationships. Even then don't expect large agency bookings until you've either developed a very strong niche audience e.g. new car buyers, home owners etc or once your audience is significant.

The Australian media market is one of the most competitive in the world servicing just 26 million people. Media buyers are spoilt for choice but are highly accountable to their clients.  

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Evgeny Popov - Director of Operations (AsiaPacific) - RadiumOne


Staff up wisely and don't assume just because its a small market that its not savvyMediaScope Brains Trust - Coming to Australia and ultra competitive.

Many technology company's attempts to ‘crack’ Australia have fallen short of expectations. It's probably safe to say a that a big part of this is down to two very simple reasons:

  • not having the right staff on the ground to assist and support local clients, and 
  • failure to tailor their business strategy and approach sufficiently to the nuances of this market.

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Further Resources

MediaScapes - well-known guides mapping the entire Australian commercial media landscape - including digital media, television, outdoor and mobile billboard media, media agencies & more.  MediaScapes appear on office walls throughout the industry!

State of the Media - Launching in 2013, State of the Media is a series and annual survey co-produced by TrinityP3 & MediaScope, which aims to raise awareness of the challenges facing all parts of the Australian media trading industry.  Survey results are presented at Mumbrella360 each year.

What's On - we keep track of the most worthwhile media industry centric events, surveys, training courses and awards

20 Must Read Advertising & Media Books - our pick of the best Australian based books on advertising and media - including biographies of the moguls and personalities who have built our industry