Catching Up with AAM's Canadian Board Officers: Shelagh Stoneham, VP Brand and Marketing Communications, Rogers Commnications
As vice president brand and marketing communications at Rogers Communications, Shelagh Stoneham is responsible for advertising and retail programs at one of the top advertisers in Canada. ABC caught up to learn more about Stoneham’s thoughts on everything from her typical day and favourite app to how Rogers customers are adopting mobile devices to on the industry and its future.
ABC: What is your typical day like at Rogers?
Shelagh Stoneham: I’m usually in by 7:15 a.m. The early start gives me a chance to respond to all my emails and view work that my team puts in my ‘overnight’ file. As a company we’re big believers in face-to-face communications. I usually have about 10 meetings a day starting with a review of our latest creative. Our offices span two buildings, One Mount Pleasant and 333 Bloor, so I am back and forth across the connecting bridge sometimes five or six times a day. So I get a bit of exercise along the way.
I rarely use the phone but send/receive about 150 emails a day so my BlackBerry and tablet are really important to me. I’m definitely a heavy user of our products and services. It all ends around 6 p.m. when I decompress with pilates or a glass of chardonnay… sometimes both.
ABC: How does your staff/agency use ABC-audited data?
SS: ABC is the gold standard, and we use ABC data to gauge changes in circulation. We look at trending, and we work to understand where the market is headed.
Audited data is critical to ensuring that advertisers get what they pay for and are reaching the audience they need to reach. Without independent third-party data, advertisers can’t be sure they are getting value for their media investment.
ABC: ABC recently began offering FDSA audit accreditation. What does this initiative mean for buyers who advertise with flyers?
SS: Similar to the auditing of circulation, the independent third-party verification of delivery provides advertisers with assurance that their flyer investment is being properly executed.
ABC: Another recent development for ABC Canada was the release of the National Post’s Consolidated Media Report this spring. What do you think about the CMR?
SS: It is a good first step toward capturing the total, multiplatform audience of a media brand. Having some sense of the social media numbers gives us some insight into other dimensions of newspaper brand consumption. The CMR has received a lot of positive feedback since its launch. It provides an overview of the media offering and is also really flexible and customizable as it allows publishers to report data from a variety of channels.
ABC: How have you seen customers adopt tablets and smartphones? What trends have you seen in the past year?
SS: As time passes more customers are upgrading their cell phone to a smartphone. BlackBerry is still the leading smartphone in Canada, but Android devices are quickly gaining share.
Mobile broadband usage is also gaining popularity with the introduction of smartphones and mobile Internet sticks a few years ago. And now with the relatively new launch of tablets last year, mobile broadband usage is quite strong.
Although there are a lot of tablet options, the iPad reigns king with the vast majority of market share. What’s interesting about tablets is the usage is so different from a laptop. Tablets are truly a family device most often used at home, more specifically in the family room and shared among children.
ABC: Do you have a favourite app?
SS: Yes, my favourite App is Text’n Drive. It converts text messages to voice so you can hear them while driving. It also sends a message to the sender that you are driving and will respond when you’re off the road. Those who know my driving track record combined with my BlackBerry addiction will fully appreciate why this is my favourite app.
ABC: What sparked your interest in advertising and the media industry?
SS: During summers while at university I ran a sailing school. The first summer I was head instructor, I asked the vice commodore for a percentage of profits as part of my compensation package. He laughed because as he went on to explain, the sailing school had never made money. In fact, the club subsidized the school. I learned something that summer, and so did he.
I learned the power of a (rudimentary) marketing plan supported by basic advertising. We fully leveraged every daylight hour from the spring to the fall by offering local high school phys ed classes in the spring mornings, singles sailing classes at night in addition to our classic main revenue generator—youth sailing camp. We also offered pro bono community support (CNIB sailing classes) that not only help shape the character of our teaching staff but also provided a leverage to secure unpaid publicity. The vice commodore learned the potential of the sailing school. He did eventually promise me a handsome percentage of profits, but never thought he’d have to pay it out. That little summer job sparked my interest in marketing and advertising.
ABC: What brought you to your current position?
SS: I think I have spent my career preparing for my current role. Half my career has been in advertising and half in marketing. I have literally transitioned back and forth. At this point, there are few categories I haven’t experienced and haven’t loved. However, the most challenging and rewarding to date has been working at Rogers.
The powerful combination of high-tech and retail is unparalleled. But to answer your question directly, I was previously SVP Managing Director at BBDO before being hired four years ago as VP marketing communications at Rogers. Almost two years ago, my role expanded to include the Rogers brand strategy and cable marketing communications portfolios.
ABC: Besides ABC, are you involved in any other industry organizations?
SS: I serve on a few industry boards. As a large advertiser, I believe we have a responsibility to contribute to the governance and shaping of the future of our industry. In addition to my ABC board work, I also serve on the Boards of the Print Measurement Bureau (PMB), and Canadian Outdoor Measurement Bureau (COMB). I have also recently been invited to serve on the North American CMO Council Advisory Board.
ABC: What’s the future for newspapers and magazines?
SS: Newspapers and magazines will continue to evolve in multiple formats of course to meet the increasing consumer demand for anywhere, anytime, anyplace content.
The industry challenge is to find new ways to deliver this on demand content within a payment model that makes sense for the consumer and the health of the business.
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