As part of the WARC x Spotify “Getting your brand heard” report, Marta Barri, Head of Marketing, Mobile Offer at Vodafone Italia, explained how telcos can move towards becoming techcos and the underestimated role of podcasts in current society.

Headshot of Marta Barri

Marta Barri, Head of Marketing, Mobile Offer, Vodafone Italia

What are the key goals that you're expected to achieve through your marketing and advertising?

New customer acquisition is definitely one KPI, as is the NPS (Net Promoter Score). Brand consideration for the non-user is the third KPI; the perception that the customer has of our brand is very important. Another very relevant goal is around the culture that combines acquisition and churn. This means we look at how many customers we acquire and lose. And in the end, it’s about what our market share is.

How do you then translate those KPIs into your media selection and media plans?

When we look at customer acquisition, we usually go from target to target. We try to find the media places where the target is more reachable and we then look at the conversion. So when it comes to performance, after testing, we choose the media depending on the conversion that we had. When it comes to NPS and consideration, we usually look to go as broad as we can. We prefer media spaces where we know we can reach a broader audience.

How do you use audio and digital audio as part of your marketing mix? What do you see as its main strengths and weaknesses?

It’s one media that we have reduced using over the years. But we still use it to reach some of our target audiences.

For example, for some of our younger audiences for whom we’d still consider it to be very relevant. And we use it also for propositions that talk to our customer base, more for brand positioning than commercials. So when we talk about loyalty, we still use radio. We have reduced it a lot when it comes to commercial messages being shared over audio.

How do you find digital audio can complement some of the other channels that you use in your media mix?

Audio is often used when your attention is not focused on something else. For instance, we know that when people are watching TV, they're probably also watching a second screen. But when someone is listening to audio, they are very likely doing so while driving or performing some other activities. At that time, their attention isn’t diverted to some other screen or media. That’s very helpful.

Our research reveals some telcos are struggling with brand distinctiveness. How have you tried to build brand distinctiveness through media like digital audio and what advice would you give to other marketers?

Honestly, I don't think that brand differentiation always points to the type of media that you choose. It's more about what you are doing. The way we’ve used digital audio has sometimes allowed us to be a bit more disruptive in the messaging and capture attention more so than display, TV or traditional media does. But I wouldn't yet say that we have a solution to leverage that media to support our brand differentiation.

Our survey also indicated that there's an investment gap between the levels of consumption of digital audio and investment in the medium. Why does that investment gap exist amongst telco brands?

The gap is probably because we are moving most of our investments to digital; it is the media that we can measure in a better way. At the same time, we are trying to preserve TV spends as much as we can since it’s still the type of media that is very trusted although it’s not that measurable.

For digital audio, we have the perception that it can be tracked as much as digital, so we don’t feel as much control in terms of return on investment. At the same time, we also don't feel that control as strongly as we do with television so that explains why we might have cut investment in digital audio in the past.

My view though is that there’s still low awareness on new digital audio. That means that when, for example, we invest on radio, we know what platforms we’re investing in. But the role that podcasts are playing in the current society is something that we’re underestimating.

Given how the telco industry is constantly evolving, how do you see the shift from traditional telcos to more techco type operations playing out?

Moving from telco to techco is definitely a part of our strategy. We believe that this is the way to grow. Traditional telco businesses will hardly grow in the future. We need to play a different role. We are doing so in several ways, firstly by enriching our services but also by playing a central role in the technology that our customers buy – although they are third-party technology. We are trying to be the preferred player for them when they select the technology to get in their homes. We also support them in the overall setup and configuration, something no one is doing at the moment.

You buy a service from one player and buy the hardware from another one. But then when you have to put everything together and make all this technology talk to each other, there’s no player to support that. So, we are trying to get that type of role. But there’s still a long way to go. I don't think that any telco has cracked the model yet but most of us are looking in that direction.

We’re not sure how we will do that but it's absolutely something we want to do. We have started making steps and we are doing so by broadening our scope beyond pure mobile and fixed connectivity services.