In the latest episode of the Digital Rookie Podcast, I sat down with Trishan Naidoo. Trishan is a very experienced digital marketing strategist, now in a performance marketing role at the AFL. His knowledge of the paid media industry made for a really interesting chat and following are my key takings from our discussion.
Trishan’s advice for how he thinks graduates should look to approach improving their employability was particularly intriguing. Trishan emphasised the value of being very good at a particular skill as a way of getting your foot in the door of the sports digital industry. I noted this opinion as it’s a bit of a different approach to what others have advised. I think the sports digital industry has multiple facets, there are a lot of different roles but quite often it seems as though your first role is not what you envisage. Unquestionably, being really good at one particular skill can make you a great candidate for a specific role, however I think it can potentially limit your prospects of gaining opportunities and developing your career in other ways. At this stage of my career, being versatile is essential to being available to say yes to any job available. When most employers in the industry are looking for experience as vital to your employability, there’s a lot to say for having at least basic skills in a variety of areas. With this strategy, you’re able to develop your skills and network within a professional environment and start to build your career from inside the industry. Ultimately, there is a lot to say for being really good at a particular skill as Trishan suggests. If you are one of the best at a particular skill then you will inevitably find opportunities to demonstrate that, so from that perspective I do agree that it is another option for trying to build experience and develop in a career in the sports digital industry.
I loved hearing about Trishan’s experience working at the AFL. As arguably the largest sporting entity in the country, the strategies the AFL uses for the marketing of it’s ticket sales is a great insight into how these large organisations function. I particularly found Trishan’s explanation of the way the AFL uses sophisticated targeting strategies to ensure their advertisements are customer specific and financially efficient. As Trishan explains, one of the key values of paid media is being able to direct your advertisement content directly towards those who its most relevant for. Trishan describes how the AFL use data generated from users visiting club websites, interacting with certain social media posts and previous customers to direct who can see specific ads. The importance of data analytics and generation is a really interesting side of the digital industry and I think is a role that will continue to grow in status as the online environment grows ever more relevant.
Trishan and I also discussed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the AFL and sport more generally. As the Australia has gone into lockdown, and Melbourne from the rest of the country it has greatly impacted the AFL’s ticket revenue. As one of its primary revenue streams, obviously this has damaged the financial viability of the season. Despite this the league has continued in unique circumstances which has forced the AFL to innovate and get creative. I really enjoyed listening to what Trishan had to say about the lack of innovation in the broadcasting of matches. In particular I thought his point about how the success the AFL has had in the past, including record attendance numbers last year, has allowed the AFL to avoid innovation or change decades. With COVID-19, the AFL are now in a situation where what they have done in the past is not going to work, and it’s up to them to develop new ways for people to consume the game and the AFL’s content in order to continue to drive with success.
I’d like to say a massive thank you to Trishan for his time and advice. I really enjoyed our chat, and after reflecting on the things we talked about I think there are a lot of opportunities for people in the digital space to present new and creative ideas to the AFL that could help get someone that foot in the door. Make sure to check out our full chat on Apple Podcasts and Spotify and leave a review while you’re there!