Each year, StopPress asks a group of talented professionals in the local industry for their reflections on the year that was. This year, we speak to individuals who made their mark on 2023 and brought us truly impactful work.
Lauren Quaintance is Chief Media and Data Officer at Sky, which is launching the country’s first subscription video on demand (SVOD) advertising on its streaming service NEON, as it looks to provide new options for advertisers in the digital era. We asked her the big questions about 2023, and what could be in store this year.
Get up for it. Okay that was Sky’s call to action for New Zealand and the Rugby World Cup, but it’s timely given that we had five World Cups in 2023 and New Zealanders well and truly got up for it. It was an epic year that showed us how sport has the ability to inspire, to capture the highs and lows of human emotion and to bring us together in a way that is so rare in an era of distraction and fragmented attention.
How would you sum up your professional year in three words?
Transformative. Challenging. Exciting.
A news story that restored your faith in humanity this year…
I’m a former journalist and the legendary founder of Metro Warwick Roger always used to say journalism is “God’s work.” While Cyclone Garbrielle and the Auckland floods were incredibly challenging for us as a nation, our news media also shone a light on what it means to be a New Zealander through the many incredible acts of kindness that were shown to the victims.
What shifts do you foresee in the New Zealand media landscape for 2024 based on 2023’s trends?
Not so much a shift but a continuation of a trend as brands battle to capture the attention of audiences and look for more innovative ways to communicate their brand messages to audiences. Sky is leaning into this space with a new integration team led by Kathryn Allemann as well as innovative new integration products we are bringing to market early new year.
Also, the launch of new ad models in NZ particularly premium Subscription Video on Demand ad tiers – these are prevalent overseas but are only landing here from January when Sky will launch Ads on our entertainment streaming platform NEON.
What was a key change that Sky made this year in response to 2023’s challenges.
The investment we’ve made into Sales resource and capability to maximise our commercial opportunities in market. It’s no secret that linear TV spend has continued to decline in 2023 so it’s a good moment for us to make our much-anticipated entry into digital advertising with NEON and take the first step in unlocking the totality of Sky’s audience to advertisers. This is the first of many digital advertising innovations to come.
Plus, a greater emphasis on content integration and branded content this is an area where, if done well, advertising can really enhance the viewing experience by delivering entertaining content that fits seamlessly into programming and actually adds value for the viewer.
My portfolio at Sky also includes our free-to-air strategy and the launch of our new free to air channel, Sky Open, better connected New Zealand audiences with some of the sporting moments that mattered in 2023 including the FIFA Womens’ World Cup and the Rugby World Cup. Bringing the channel under the Sky master brand means more people will recognise the significant contribution made by Sky in bringing these key moments to all New Zealanders and we can use it more effectively to promote the benefits of our paid products.
What were the biggest lessons brands learnt in 2023?
It isn’t new but it stands true every year, in turbulent times like we experienced this year with economic downturn and uncertainty around the election – quality creative, consistent marketing investment, combined with long-term thinking from marketers becomes even more important.
Best TV moment of the year?
The Rugby World Cup semi-final on Sky Open which had all the energy, drama, and flair we would all have loved to see in the final.
Who inspired you in 2023 and why?
It will sound like I’m sucking up to her, but our CEO Sophie Moloney inspired me this year with her incredible work ethic and her authentic style of leadership. Best of all she’s funny – there are not that many CEOs who make you laugh every day!
What are you most looking forward to working on in 2024?
At Sky we already have incredible content – and we’re moving fast to build a world-class integration team – so I’m looking forward to seeing how we can partner with brands in 2024 to create integrations and branded content that deliver for our audiences and our brand partners.
And the Olympics in Paris, of course which will be exclusively on Sky and Sky Open!
Quick fire 10:
Most impactful local campaign of 2023:
Correct the Internet
Campaign I wish I worked on
The Last Performance
In an economic crisis it’s easy to turn inwards to focus on things like interest rates and the cost of living and lose sight of the big picture issues that matter to a society like child poverty, domestic violence and the environment, so in a media landscape where clicks are sadly an important barometer of success there are many important stories that don’t get the attention they deserve.
Most Innovative use of social media
Deadpool 3 is currently filming and has been the focus of plenty of leaked spoilers. Ryan Reynolds first urged fans and websites to stop spreading spoilers while the film is still in production with a serious post on X (Twitter). He then followed up with a series of funny posts of “leaked” set photos from “Deadpool 3” that show him and co-star Hugh Jackman ‘on set’ with the likes of Mickey Mouse and the Predator – gaming the algorithm for that specific search phrase and generating lots of free earned media in the process.