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Going for Gold: Lessons Learned from Being First to Market

Much like training for the Olympics, executing a first mover strategy isn’t for the faint of heart

During the 2022 Winter Olympics, many media buyers and sellers in Australia gained their most accurate measurement of audience viewership than ever before, thanks in part to the innovations of a Volaris-owned software company named Broadcast M.A.P.
That’s because the company was first among its competitors to introduce a powerful new tool that provides customers with an edge. Their product gives clients the most complete picture possible of how many people are viewing the Olympics and other broadcast events including across connected TVs, computers, smartphones, and tablets, in addition to traditional TV.
Since initially being first to market in mid-2021, the company has retained first-mover status and gained an advantage over competitors. But a first-to-market strategy isn’t for the faint of heart. Broadcast M.A.P.’s journey took careful planning and strategic risk-taking over several years, all with the support of its parent company. The company shares lessons learned with Acquired Knowledge magazine.

1. How can a first mover identify a gap in the market?

Broadcast M.A.P.’s story sheds light on how to identify market opportunities for other companies. In the Australian market, audience measurement tools have traditionally been strong at measuring viewership across TV and radio platforms (or linear broadcast, in industry terms). But as people have shifted to video-on-demand and streaming technologies, the Australian market lagged in introducing modern tools and standards to measure online views.
Between 2016 and 2018, broadcasters started to see a decline in viewership in existing TV data. But savvy observers in the industry knew those numbers weren’t complete, since they did not include other viewing platforms such as mobile phones or tablets.
 “For a long time, there was no measurement standard for capturing digital audiences.”
-Leanne Peruch, Head of Business Development, Broadcast M.A.P.
Broadcast M.A.P. had been aware of this issue for some time. The team took notice of new developments in 2018 when industry groups began to create more format-inclusive standards for measuring viewership. Broadcasters expanded their data to include streaming views, while a new broadcast measurement standard was introduced called Virtual Australia (or VOZ). 
Broadcast M.A.P. saw an opportunity to expand its offering and get a step ahead of competitors. The business was already working out a new solution for the market when it decided to join Volaris in 2020. The timing worked well, as the team was seeking out support for its new initiative.

2. Is it worth gaining first mover advantage? Weighing risk vs. opportunity

In the beginning, Broadcast M.A.P. was uncertain about whether to be an early adopter of the new broadcast measurement standard. Within the industry, the pessimism and negative talk about the new standard were enough for them to be careful about the risks of a potential commitment.
“We had to decide either to be the first movers, or wait and see what happened in the market and risk falling behind.”
-William Graf, General Manager of Broadcast M.A.P.
The team’s early hesitance reveals an uncomfortable truth about innovation at many technology companies: there are real risks to being a first mover. If a business doesn’t have a strong financial foundation, it could find itself under-resourced if it must weather any uncertainty that could come with introducing a new product.
“Looking back, it was not a small undertaking,” Graf reflects. “For our business, it was quite a big decision to spend two years on the initiative and have four people working on it. That was basically a third of our development team we committed.”

3. How to find an owner to support a first-to-market strategy

“I’m not entirely sure we would have been similarly successful with this project if we had stayed with our previous owner. Volaris changed the way we thought about doing business.”
-William Graf, General Manager, Broadcast M.A.P.
Initially, it was unclear whether customers would be interested in the new product, which at the time was mainly being promoted by broadcasters. Luckily, after joining Volaris, Broadcast M.A.P. gained additional guidance, insights, and financial backing to explore a product expansion. They dedicated a team to strategize how to offer unique value to their customers.
The team mitigated risk by talking to customers far in advance of the product rollout, explaining new product capabilities, and spreading positivity about the new standard. 
“The sustained effort to communicate to customers the capabilities of the VOZ data definitely helped us to sell our new product to the market,” Graf reflects.
During this process, Broadcast M.A.P. strengthened industry relationships with key industry players. These included advertising agencies and broadcasters in the Australian market. Another key relationship made stronger was with OzTam, the marketing and management firm that provides metropolitan television audience ratings in Australia. Broadcast M.A.P. worked with OzTAM—and continues to do so—to solve issues related to the use of the VOZ data.
“We were asking OzTAM a lot of questions where they didn’t necessarily have the answers yet,” recalls Peruch. Chief among the issues they tackled was how to handle a database that was 2,000 times larger than the previous standard. 
Collaborating with the larger industry player to solve issues gave Broadcast M.A.P. a stronger position in influencing future market changes.

4. Finding success and solidifying first mover advantage

Broadcast M.A.P.’s strategic investment in a first-to-market strategy paid off for them. Their customers are also seeing many benefits since becoming early adopters.
“Our investment in VOZ and [Broadcast M.A.P.’s] software product TVmap will deliver rich insights and free up our teams to concentrate on creative solutions for clients, backed by data available to our team at the touch of a button,” said Glenda Wynyard, a Broadcast M.A.P. customer and Managing Director of The Media Precinct, in an article for trade publication AdNews.
“The way Australians watch broadcast TV is changing rapidly. Whether it's a big event like the Olympics, or niche programs, viewing across all formats continues to prove an evolving challenge for agencies.”
As of February 2022, Broadcast M.A.P. continues to lead the market. With the continued backing of Volaris, the company is confident it can continue leading the pack in providing audience measurement tools to media buyers.
“Looking at the market now, we are the only provider with tools that can do something meaningful with this dataset,” Graf says. “We can help media buyers make better decisions.”

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