By Kruti Joshi
2015 was about testing the waters for Australia’s biggest women’s network, Mamamia. Next year will be about big and bold expansion with the centralisation of all content, more podcasts, the US rollout of new website Flo and Frank, and the introduction of a new communication consultancy agency Broad.
Overseeing all of this is the digital publisher’s first managing director, Kylie Rogers, along with national sales manager, Danika Johnston, who will be thinking about ways to monetise on the products.
Mediaweek sat down for a chat with Rogers and Johnston following the company’s NewFronts at the Ivy in Sydney.
“Women have asked us, ‘Stop. There is so much content out there. We want a trusted one-stop shop. We trust Mamamia so bring all your brands and content to one destination.’ So we did,” Rogers told Mediaweek about the decision to centralise content from all Mamamia outlets under the mothership website mamamia.com.au.
“Mia Freedman launched Mamamia because she knew women weren’t one dimensional. She knew women wanted to talk about politics and pelvic in the one sentence.”
This year, Mamamia launched five new podcasts to test the audience reception. Next year, the company will more than double its podcast offering.
“Serial broke out in the US and everyone started to stream it. Then we realised there is a gap in the market. No one is doing good female audio content in Australia. So we tested the waters this year, didn’t we?” Rogers said looking across the table to Johnston, who nodded in response. “And honestly, we got to a million downloads with ease.”
“[With] no marketing,” Johnston added.
“We are throwing everything out in 2016. We’ve got a new schedule with 16 podcasts,” Rogers said.
“It’s actually not a difficult medium to create…it’s not like producing TV. The cost of entry is quite minimal.”
“It’d be foolish for us to expect that Mamamia
meant something to the Americans,”
Rogers attributed the podcasts’ success in 2015 to the “intimacy” factor that the audience gained from listening to them. This means that any distractive advertiser messaging can easily throw off its listeners. It is very important to be careful about how these messages are delivered to the audience, Johnston said.
“[It’s] very much in the vein of native. We work with the client to really balance that commercial message in our podcasts. As Kylie rightly said, it’s such an intimate medium that you don’t want it to be a really overt space for commercial messaging. We have ways to get around that.
“Quite often we talk about… ‘generous reads’, [so] you are being delivered that message in a non-obtrusive way. You feel like you are listening to that content and the message is being seamlessly delivered to you. Not distracting you away from the content.”
The day when there are special spots for commercial messaging in podcasts “will be the demise of that medium”, Rogers warned.
Talking about sales and marketing, the conversation inevitably turned into a discussion about native and its various definitions. “There are two natives,” Rogers said taking a stand.
“The true definition of native is content paid for by a brand that is created in the same look and feel of the publishers, or the media platform that it is living on.
“[On the other hand], branded content, whether it’s on television, magazines, or online, has been around since the 70s when Graham Kennedy used to do live reads.
“Digital has jumped on the native term and confused people with it. Had they called it branded content, everyone would’ve understood it.”
[blockquote style=”3″]FACT: Three out of four recent Australian prime ministers have contributed to mamamia.com.au. “The last one [Tony Abbott] didn’t and look what happened,” the network founder Mia Freedman joked at the Mamamia NewFronts in Sydney last week.[/blockquote]
After months of searching, Mamamia named Sarah Bryden–Brown as its US editor in July 2015. Bryden-Brown has been tasked with leading the company’s new website Flo and Frank launching in February 2016.
“We did a lot of research with the consumers and advertisers in the US. There is a voracious appetite for a new player to come in and talk to women in an authentic way, and to deliver content when they want it and where they want it,” Rogers said.
“Yes, it’s a cluttered market. Yes, there are a million players. But there isn’t anyone necessarily doing it the way women want them to do it.
“The key here is personalised content.”
Why not use the power of the Mamamia brand as a launch pad in the new market?
“We didn’t run with the Mamamia brand because it is a very different market. It’d be foolish for us to expect that Mamamia meant something to the Americans,” Rogers answered.
One of the major announcements coming out of the presentation was the launch of Mamamia’s new communication consultancy agency Broad.
“It’s an absolute passion of mine,” Johnston said. “I’ve only been with Mamamia for seven months, but I found myself immersed in these client conversations with Kylie and our sales team, talking mostly to marketers and CMOs about this need for laser focus and expertise around female communication strategies and communication techniques.
“We are not here to replace the media agencies, the creative agencies, the digital agencies, or the strategists in media agencies. We are here because of the depth of knowledge [we have], and the fact we already have these communication strategies around marketing to women.
“We think we can play a much broader and bigger [role] for some of these clients,” Johnston said before jokingly pointing out, “Broad, pun!”
“This isn’t based on gut. It’s based on conversations we are having with marketing teams, where we see a real need for this.”
Another thing Rogers and Johnston have in sight for Mamamia is video content. The aim for 2016 is that 70% of all Mamamia content will be accompanied with a video.
“Video is important, it’s imperative to our audience…Because I am sitting in the commercial space I see the need in the supply and demand chain. It has a perfect place in our network. Women want video, personalised content, [and] short-form. We are well down the track of being able to deliver that to [our] audience and advertisers next year,” Johnston said.
Mamamia’s mantra for video is “Fifteen seconds, short [and] sharp with a punchy message.”
>> Bringing video and audio to digital
“[I have brought] the understanding of how important content and storytelling is in the advertising mix [from my time at Ten]…Being able to bring that ability to create a conversation and create relationship with content and advertisers, that’s really helped me,” Rogers said.
Johnston added: “I grew up in TV and then spent a decade in radio, which is really interesting to me because that’s the audio format. Now I feel myself invested in this podcast space and I love it.
“Digital for me is all around personalisation. It’s around personalised content, it moves fast, it’s agile, it’s needed and it’s a part of your daily fix. I found that fascinating.”
>> A decade-old relationship
Prior to joining Mamamia as national sales director in March 2014 and being promoted as the company’s first managing director in September 2015, Kylie Rogers was the head of generate at Ten. Rogers worked at the broadcaster with Danika Johnston, before Johnston moved on to work at Nova and Authentic Entertainment.
“Danika and I have worked together for over 10 years. We worked together at Channel 10. Then we worked quite closely together when she was at Nova and I was at Channel 10, so we know each other intimately. It’s a very easy working relationship and we trust each other implicitly,” Rogers said.
“Kylie is a born and bred sales director,” Johnston said. “She’s done this all her life so we have a lot in common. And our common ground in my day-to-day job is the commercial aspect of our brands…really being able to deliver for [the clients] seven days a week.”