Isabel Massey is Diageo’s first Global Media Director and is chairing the Effective Use of Tech category at this year’s WARC Media Awards. Here she talks to WARC’s Lucy Aitken about whisky tasting via Alexa and the evolving media landscape.

Describe your role at Diageo.

I joined Diageo around six years ago as Head of Media in Europe and now I’m Diageo’s first Global Media Director. The role involves developing clear and structured media strategy, establishing our media standards and identifying future ways to drive growth for the business.

Every marketer needs to be in constant learning mode with media and I’m a champion of that learning culture. Media is so much more than reach; it’s about choices on how to connect to people in a non-intrusive way and driving returns as a marketer. First and foremost, that requires a desire to learn.

What are your biggest challenges right now?

Our biggest challenge is transforming our organisation into one that will be successful in the future while also delivering in-year results. We are prepping for the next level of digitisation for our work; consumers are breaking away from some of those offline versus digital channels.

How are those challenges different from a year ago and how do you expect them to change in a year’s time?

The evolving media landscape means we can be even more ambitious in the way we combine media and creative and we can be even more thoughtful in how we connect with people. If I think about where we are year-on-year, we’ve done a huge amount of work that enables us to scale more efficiently through our organisation. That makes for a very exciting, vibrant and agile working environment.

So during the Six Nations Rugby, we worked with Twitter and Periscope Live in the UK on livestream content to leverage the Guinness sponsorship. That was set up within six weeks. Previously, that would have taken a lot longer.

How do you assess the right platforms for Diageo brands?

Firstly, by making sure that we are targeting people over the legal drinking age in a way that puts responsible drinking at the heart of everything. We use data responsibly so we can be even more confident we are doing the right thing for consumers. In terms of our global media standards, we want to make sure that every channel has a clear and purposeful role on the media plan; how has it performed before and how it will work with other channels? We tend to think about how channels can be additive to the overall consumer experience. We don’t like to try media tech innovations in silo, rather we think about how a platform like Amazon Alexa can help create experiences such as a whisky tasting experience for Talisker.

Is there a greater understanding of tech and how it can help effectiveness in the industry? Or do you still witness ‘tech for tech’s sake?’ What the danger of the latter?

My view is that technology can greatly impact the effectiveness of media and I think tech should be a playground of exploration and experimentation. We should support people putting the effort into trying new things. I see many organisations doing this which is great for the industry. I think that people should continue to experiment and explore without being worried that someone’s going to say ‘you’re doing tech for tech’s sake’. Make sure you think about what the consumer insight is, whether it’s grounded in a strong creative idea and whether it’s going to make a business impact.

What are you expecting to see from entries in this category this year? Any particular applications of tech?

I’m hoping to see newer areas of innovation, whether that’s voice activation or automation, but I’m also hoping to see old media and how people are thinking about channels that they know well and making them more effective through innovation.

Is there a particular theme you would like to bring to the judging this year?

I’m looking for entries that will inspire others to follow suit and do more interesting things in the space and move the industry forward.

What advice would you like to give entrants for this category?

Regardless of whether you win or not, just keep being creative and different. And inspire people to find new ways to transform businesses.

The WARC Media Awards, a global case study competition, will be open for entries until 19 September. Entry is free and there are four categories. For more details on how to enter, click here