It’s been a busy week for Adshel NZ General Manager Nick Vile. The team has just finished moving into a new office, and is still celebrating a gong from the previous night’s Commercial Communications Council Beacon Awards (held on Thursday May 10): Media Sales Team of the Year.
The accolade is in fact Adshel’s second Beacon in two years, with the company winning Media Business of the Year in 2017. “It’s a great way to go into the new premises, and good recognition to the team for what was a very strong year for us last year,” says Vile.
“To be recognised with the Media Business of the Year Award last year was particularly special. We’ve always been an under-the-radar quiet operator that just went about our business, so last year was a real coming of age for us – where we were able to actually get out there and talk a bit more about who we are and what we’re about.
“To receive that recognition last year was a real highlight and a real boost to the team, and to back that up last night with Sales Team of the Year was equally rewarding.”
In 2012, Vile was named General Manager of Adshel NZ. He joined the company in 2010, which, back then, says Vile, “operated very much in silos within a small team”.
“I joined the Adshel team initially as sales director reporting into a sales director in Australia, our operations manager reported to an operations director, marketing manager to marketing director and so on,” he says.
“At the time I was told there would never be a country manager position.”
With the arrival of then-CEO Rob Atkinson, however, came the opportunity for change.
“Timing was right to lob a proposal into Rob to have a head of NZ business,” says Vile. “Fortunately Rob was on board with that idea, and fortunately for the business that concept has ended up being successful…
“Bringing it under a central leadership model has definitely been hugely beneficial for the team here. We’ve now got a senior management team reporting to me focused on developing and executing a local business plan locally.
“I report into [CEO] Mike Tyquin… we run a New Zealand steering committee, which is myself, Mike Tyquin and [CFO] Andrew Nye.
“In that time we’ve pretty much doubled revenue.”
Digitisation across the ditch
“Digitisation has been a key focus for us since 2015,” says Vile. That was the year Adshel first launched its NZ digital network: a humble 35 screens in Auckland’s CBD and fringe suburbs. However, this number has grown dramatically in just three years.
“In 2015 we had 35 screens,” says Vile. “This year we’re rolling out phase four of our digitisation strategy, which will see us by the end of the year with close to 300 across Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Hamilton and Tauranga.”
Vile cites digitisation as his “go-to” milestone “but in the same breath that’s also our biggest challenge”.
Now that digital has hit the NZ outdoor market (“the flash new shiny thing on the street,” says Vile), Adshel is focused on ensuring advertisers fully utilise the capabilities of digital, rather than just running digital versions of traditional static formats.
Vile was excited to talk about two recent digital initiatives brought in by the company:
• “Day Buying”, in which advertisers are able to buy digital inventory by the day. “We’ve seen a good response from non-traditional advertisers,” says Vile, specifically mentioning the retail sector.
• “Unbundled”, which uses audience data to index signs to specific audiences or locations. “You can actually buy digital panels by proximity to either points of interest or by audience,” says Vile. “If you’ve got a specific target audience, we index all of our screens using a number of different audience profiling tools.”
Along with his duties at Adshel, Vile is the chair of the Outdoor Media Association of New Zealand (OMANZ). A key part of this role, says Vile, has been “developing a unified approach to audience measurement across the sector”.
OMANZ’s members are all on the same page, and all that’s left is figuring out exactly the finer details of what this unified measurement will look like.
“All OMANZ members have signed up to an MOU, committing us to a project that will deliver a single source of truth under a unified audience measurement solution. This is a huge step forward for the sector and a very strong indication that we are all on the same page.
“We are currently undertaking a ‘best of the best’ approach, assessing the key attributes of all of the various audience solutions from across the sector with a view to bringing the best attributes together under one unified solution. Hopefully by 2019 we’ll have something in market that is really responding to what our agency clients are telling us they want: one solution across all of OOH.”
When it comes to competing in a growing sector operating in New Zealand’s tiny market, Vile says Adshel is in quite a unique position.
“There’s a lot more competition directly between the large format operators, because they obviously have competing formats,” he says.
“Because our format has different attributes we see ourselves as more complementary to other OOH channels, and other media – media agnostic in a way.
“Being the only street furniture provider in the NZ market, we are in a pretty privileged position really in that we can really hone in on our value proposition as relevant across multiple sectors.”
CV: Nick Vile
Vile is a self-confessed “true-blue Kiwi”. He spent his early career years working in the business of wine, before spending time at New Zealand Rugby. Working with the rugby’s broadcast partners saw Vile wind up at Mediaworks with TV3 in 2001 – first in a sport’s-focused role, before transitioning to “more of a pure media sales-focused role”.
“Having a broader background has definitely helped [my career in outdoor],” says Vile, speaking on his early years. “It’s definitely given me a broader perspective – in terms of from an advertising client perspective – the role that outdoor can play as part of the media mix, and what is it we’re doing to ensure that we’re delivering a communications solution to our clients.”
And Vile’s years in the wine industry?
“The one way that my background in wine does give me a boost in the media industry is that I’ve always headed the wine list at every lunch that I go to…
“It’s pretty hard to go past a central-Otago Pinot… especially after a hard day skiing!”