Carol Hanley 0:00
You as an individual are much more robust, if you will, because when, when we only know what what is in our four walls, we’re kind of limited in our thought process. And we’re, that limitation I think drives decisions that limit us. So I think culturally, television and streaming opens up an entire very, very positive experience for the whole world.

Anne Bibb 0:29
Welcome to unexpected journey, the show where each week top professionals share work wisdom, and life lessons about their careers, and what they have learned about human experience in the workplace. I’m your host, Anne Bibb. This week, we have Carol Hanley, who is the president of whip media, she leads a Global Growth Strategy and Performance for that organization. And in 2021, she was named to the Cable Facts list of most powerful women. She has been named to synopsises media’s top 100 women in media list for the past three years, and is a member of the International Academy of Television, Arts and Sciences.

Anne Bibb 1:12
Before we begin, don’t forget to subscribe and leave your comments below. Now, let’s get started.

Anne Bibb 1:21
Welcome, Carol.

Carol Hanley 1:23
Thank you, Anne, nice to be here.

Anne Bibb 1:26
Very excited to have this conversation. I have a ton of questions for you. So I’m ready. I know you’re like I’m so ready. I’m kind of nervous. Now. I was okay. Until you said that.

Carol Hanley 1:39
Let’s do it.

Anne Bibb 1:40
So you’ve been in the media industry for quite a while, like this is not anything new to you? How did you end up here? I mean, you didn’t like in kindergarten go, I’m gonna grow up and be president of with media.

Carol Hanley 1:56
The journey is that I started out wanting to be on air. So I wanted to I my background was I wanted to be a news anchor. So I graduated, and I got a job. And it was in a small town. And I was spending more money driving to and from work than I was in my paycheck. But what happens is, I would be at work. And people would say, Hey, can you come with me to I’m trying to get a new sale, I’m trying to, you know, get a new client. And so I would go out, and I would end up participating in the sales process. And then we’d get the sale. And so then I’d get asked to do it again. And then I started realizing I’m making more more money for them than I am for myself by being on the air in this small town. So I decided I’m gonna switch over and go into sales. So when I did that, I moved over and started off at in TV sales. I’ve done radio sales, I worked for a company called Arbitron, which was a measurement company that was eventually purchased by Nielsen. And then I went from the audience measurement business over to Deluxe entertainment. And that’s when I moved from Chicago to California. And I spent a few years there. And then I made my way to Whip Media. But all of it actually kind of culminates here at Whip Media, which is interesting, because the whole beginning part of my career was in data, and in analyzing, you know, content, but from a qualitative and quantitative perspective, for ad space. When I went over to Deluxe, it was about making movies, and who’s going to watch the movie, and it wasn’t about advertising. But at wit, we’re using data to help people understand the investments that they’re making into licensing. So this particular phase in my career has actually brought all of it together, which…

Anne Bibb 4:18
Isn’t that interesting, how you look back at your life, and you’re like, at the time, it didn’t make sense. But now when I look back, it all makes sense. And I think that it’s very interesting where you say, and especially when I talked to individuals where they started one place, and it all comes together now. Yeah. Because that is when that passion really drives what they’re doing. And when you talk about your past experience, like Nielsen, and how they inform your current role now, what are some of the lessons learned that really help you to not just for yourself, but help you help your team Excel today.

Carol Hanley 5:10
So from a career standpoint, I would say, I think we all tend to spend a lot of time trying to predetermine. And that’s not to say that plans aren’t important. But I think we spend a lot of time trying to predetermine where we’re supposed to go and where we’re supposed to be in. Sometimes when you’re younger, you tend to really want to rush that process.

Carol Hanley 5:39
And what I’ve learned looking back is that life is about a lot of bus stops, if you will, in your careers, meaning, sometimes you find yourself in a situation, and maybe it’s not perfect, but there’s something to be learned. There’s a new experience to be had. And you have to think of it as a bus stop, if you will, right, collect the information, experience it, and then move to the next one. And at some point, as we just described, you’re going to find out that it does indeed all come together. And it’s not overly obvious when you’re going through it. But if you allow yourself to just go through it, and learn as much as you can, while you’re there in the moment, I think the outcomes are always better. Because so many people want to rush through it. It’s not what I want. It’s not what I’m supposed to do. It’s not what I want to do. I don’t you know, I’m not good at this. I’m not good at that. Give it a try. See, sometimes we’re really good at things, and we have no idea that we’re good at it. So I think that’s probably my biggest career learning. You have to just be willing to take the risks and go for the ride.

Anne Bibb 6:56
You know, what I think is also really fits in with that analogy is, sometimes you miss the bus. You weren’t supposed to be on that bus. And that’s okay.

Carol Hanley 7:10
Yeah, it is. That’s right. Yeah. Well, we could get very philosophical here and say, but where are you supposed to be on the bus? If you missed the bus? Maybe you weren’t…

Anne Bibb 7:22
we can go down this whole huge rabbit hole,

Carol Hanley 7:26
which is, you know, we should do that over wine, probably.

Anne Bibb 7:29
Napa is calling my name. So going back to media, you have quite an eclectic group of clients, major Hollywood studios, top broadcasters, you know, in what, what I’d like to know is kind of, could you speak to the role that data plays? Because you even mentioned data, right? How does that play into the entertainment industry, and how the software and data platforms that are available in today’s world, enable organizations to really distribute data more efficiently and able the entertainment industry to do what they’re doing today versus, you know, 50 years ago,

Carol Hanley 8:14
you know, when I first came, I’ve been in California for six years now. And I moved here from Chicago. And when I first got into the entertainment industry, I was shocked at how small it is, when you’re not in the industry. I think you think of it as this massive, because these are very large companies. But it’s really not that big of an industry. And it’s a it’s an industry that has been doing things that in a similar way for a very long period of time, up until recently. And the amount of change that all of these companies have had to go through in the past three years, is enormous, enormous. So you know, COVID hit, and they all had to change their business models. They all had to roll out, you know what they didn’t have to, but they chose to roll out platforms, streaming platforms, pull licensing. And when they pulled licensing, they pulled millions of dollars away from their bottom line. And they were at the same time investing millions of dollars into getting the platform. Well, that causes sometimes an upside down financial model. These are major decisions. And the role of data is to try to help those decisions be a little more focused, targeted and populated with facts. And so data has gotten to the point where there’s so many different kinds of datas we have clients that consider themselves data companies, entertainment companies that can consider themselves data companies, because they collect so much information about their viewers. Oh, that’s they use us to supplement that data, because you just can’t have enough. And maybe you need a little augmentation, you might know how many television sets are on, and that it’s tuned to x, you know, whatever show, but you may not know why. Why did they choose that show? And once they chose it, how did the show make them feel? Did they like it? Did they come back? Do they not come back? What did they choose to view in between it? How many times? Did they watch that scene? Exactly. So those are the kinds of things that our data can just help you dive in? And really understand, because it’s not just is this program good for my platform? Or is it not good? It is so much more complicated than that. And so you want to know how it plays with the rest of your content and how it plays in all these different countries. And, you know, all of that can be made better with data. So that’s the role of data. It’s these are hundreds of millions of dollars in decisions, that now people can use a lot more sophisticated pieces of information to make those decisions. So a little bit off topic, because I do have another question I want to ask, but you just said something that

Anne Bibb 11:22
That made me want to go down a different rabbit hole. okay. One of the things that I know that Nielsen used to do in in the day, and now whip is very good at is kind of figuring out and helping the entertainment industry know, when a show is successful. Y’all did a great job of recognizing that this is us was great. You have called poker face is going to be you know, a hit. Can you do that with actors? Ie from this is us, Pedro Pascal, right. Like, he is an incredibly popular actor. And but is, is that something that can be seen? Because people keep rewinding to his scene?

Carol Hanley 12:16
It absolutely can. Absolutely. So there are all different ways that you can begin to predict. And that is one of the things you were mentioning the shows that my my company has gotten good at predicting.

Anne Bibb 12:31
I love watching yells predictions on LinkedIn, we’re calling Poker Face of like, going to watch it now.

Carol Hanley 12:38
Thank you, thank you. Because usually they’re pretty pretty right on. But the way we are collecting information is somewhat unique in that we are using in an app and the app is called TV time. And we have about 25 million users around the globe, that use our app. And they tell us, as soon as a piece of content has been announced, which can sometimes be two years before it even goes on the air. It goes in our app. So what we can begin to watch is how that viewership builds. And as it’s building, we can learn why is it building? Is it because of the actors? Is it because of the content, the genre, you know, there’s all different things that you can begin to explore. But the important part is, before it’s ever on the air, you can begin to create that case. And that’s where those predictions begin. Because Nielsen serves an important function. And it’s it’s reporting, what did air so that an advertiser can determine? You know, did they get the customer points they were supposed to have? And did they hit their gross rating points are good, and we are really looking a lot at up until the point that it airs, what’s the audience built? And how is that going? And then once it’s on the air, we begin to look at what actors are trending. What are people saying about them? How does this show make them feel we have emotions that people put in our app and tell us it made me happy, it made me sad, it scared me. And then and then there’s scenes. So people will actually post scenes inside the app, and we can monitor how many scenes are getting attention. And you can begin to really understand the dynamics. If 90% are focusing in on scenes that have an actor, you begin to be able to make some deductions based on the data. So it really the journey starts with us well before it even goes on the air. And that’s I think what helps make it such a robust picture.

Anne Bibb 14:52
That is fascinating. Absolutely fascinating. So I knew that I knew about the organizations I knew about the studios, but can

Anne Bibb 15:00
kind of tying it back to be able to get as granular as the actor is just absolutely fascinating. Yeah, we have talent agents that are clients and use it for that purpose. That’s, that’s impressive. So when you’re thinking about, you mentioned, a lot of changes that these studios had to make over the pandemic. Looking ahead, what do you think are some of the biggest trends or challenges that are facing the entertainment industry currently, and that they’re going to have to be overcoming in the next year or so? And how is Whip Media addressing those challenges?

Carol Hanley 15:40
Look, I think the industry, generally speaking, has it went through such a huge growth period, there was a lot of mergers and acquisitions. And there were a lot of changes in the business model that caused some financial challenges. The whole look, the world is, it’s a tricky place right now. Right? Little topsy turvy at the moment. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, thank God, all of our money is safe in the banks. Oh. Oh, no, that’s not true, either. It’s it’s a crazy world, their world has undergone a significant financial challenge in that, when you think about look at look at Disney, they made the announcement when Bob Iger was still around, that they’re going to roll out Disney Plus, they made the announcement that they’re going to pull their titles from other platforms and bring them back, as did HBO Max, right there. All of these platforms, they said, We’re going to pull these titles Peacock, when peacock took back the office, those contracts, that contract was I don’t remember exactly what like $100 million with Netflix that they walked away from.

Carol Hanley 16:57
And they walked away from it, because they were investing in the platform. So their challenges that they’re facing are, how do we do more with less people, and I’m not sure that that’s unique, we’re all facing that challenge. But they’re doing it at a time when they’re kind of changing the wheels on the car, as it drives down the expressway, they’ve got a lot of commitments. And in most of these companies, they’re all big publicly held companies. They’ve made a lot of financial commitments, and they’re having to cut costs. And it’s really, that’s challenging, when you’re having to do more with less where we come in is our software. And so we have software that helps automate, it helps optimize, it helps connect the dots across all of your global footprint, it helps you very quickly synthesize billions of dollars of transactions and licensing, and put it into, you know, a format that is easily understood and shared across the entire organization. And you can do what you used to have to do manually with maybe an entire department of you know, 50 people very quickly. So that’s where we can help. And that’s where we are helping,

Anne Bibb 18:14
it does feel like every organization right now is trying to do three, four or five times to work with less people right now. And I think that that it just seems like that’s kind of where we are, let’s say that’s 2023’s. Montra. Right, do more with less automate as much as possible. And let’s see where we are for 2024. Yep. So, and we’re doing it when a lot of people don’t want to go back to work, right. So everyone’s looking for good, talented people. And, you know, there’s still a lot of people who haven’t decided to yet go back to work.

Anne Bibb 18:53
So it’s, it’s, it’s an interesting time to say the least. But like you said, at least our money safe in the bank. Exactly. So our viewers really like to hear specific examples, case studies, so on and so forth. Do you have maybe a specific example of how Whip’s software clearly without sharing a client name or anything like that, but maybe we’re, you know, whip, the software platform helped a specific client improve their content distribution in such a way that you saw a great ROI. And were able to turn some things around for them.

Carol Hanley 19:34
Well there’s a couple of examples. There are examples of the content itself, where we were able to help point out that piece of content that had all the right characteristics for success was just on the wrong platform. So we were able to be You know, go in and work with one of our clients to say, who came to us and said, we’re looking at a given piece of content. But it hasn’t done well. And in the data, you can see, it hasn’t done well. But we think it’s just simply because of the platform, because here’s the engagement. And the small, it’s a small audience, but they’re really engaged, and the engagement is growing. It’s not declining, it’s growing. And so while the audience is the same, the engagement is growing. So it’s not a passive audience. It’s going from being a passive audience to being a highly engaged audience. And what that means is, it is creating emotions. And there’s they’re starting to talk about the actors, and they’re starting to post scenes and things like that. And then we acting with the character so much, yes, yes. And the end the plot, right? So and then what we do is we help them understand. So if the bones of the content are there, and they’re attractive to an audience, what you just need is the right platform. So in this instance, potentially, the platform that it was on might be more male driven. And the content might need a more female driven audience that so you just to your point, go to a more female driven platform. Yeah, it can be as it can be as simple as that it can be whether or not it’s a global platform, because some content, you know, content, Once Upon a Time had boundaries. And today, there is content that is more appropriate for global audiences. You know, there’s, there’s content that comes out of Latin America that has taken off here, there’s content from Germany that has taken off here, look at the Korean content that has just exploded, right.

Anne Bibb 21:57
Let me tell you, I love myself a little Turkish tele novella. Well, there you have it, some of their little soap operas, they have some, they have some nice little soap operas, and I’ve never known about that until recently. Well, you’re the kind of person that allows the richness and robustness of the content around the globe, to be successful, and the United States. And so you just have to find the right platform that has the right composition. Because I’m not convinced it’s about men and women as much as it used to be. It’s not, I don’t think it’s that simple anymore. There’s there, there, we are such complex humans that it goes so much deeper into how we process and how we emotionally connect. And so by understanding that you can find the right place for that given content.

Anne Bibb 22:52
And I love that you said that because innately, this show is about the human experience, and how we as humans process information. And I agree with that so wholeheartedly that it is not about gender, it’s not about politics. It’s not about religion, it is about us as individual humans, and how we connect to people at work, how we connect to whatever it is, and in this case, we as humans connecting to content. That’s right. That’s right. It’s all about. That’s right. And that can be I mean, how many people right now, to even know what gender they are. So they are now moving and starting to identify to all of these new content across borders, which is really helping them to grow as humans and individuals

Carol Hanley 23:46
now today, you can get exposed to the world and you can get exposed to other cultures by just watching whatever given sitcoms are coming out of that culture, or what documentaries are coming out of that culture. And you as an individual, are much more robust, if you will, because when when we only know what what is in our four walls, we’re kind of limited in our thought process. And we’re, that limitation, I think drives decisions that limit us. So I think culturally, television and streaming opens up an entire very, very positive experience for the whole world to kind of get a little closer to everyone else that’s out there.

Anne Bibb 24:36
I just could not agree with you more, and I am so glad to start seeing more content from around the globe. I think that it does open us up as a member of the International Academy of Television, Arts and Sciences. What do you think are some of the most pressing issues that are facing the television industry today and how do you think they can be be addressed?

Carol Hanley 24:58
I think that The costs of productions have, have really skyrocketed. And it’s very difficult today to make a movie with a single property. You know, once upon a time, a studio could make a movie. And now these co productions, you need multiple studios and multiple production companies. And the financing that goes into making content is significant. And, look, there’s all sorts of other downstream issues. But I think it starts with a very basic issue, which is, the financing associated with all of this is significant. And that if you make the wrong decision, you know, it’s hundreds of millions of dollars. That’s, that’s out. So I think it’s, I think it kind of starts there. It’s gotten very, very expensive. Sports has taken off. And I think the genre of sports related content, so ESPN was doing like the last dance with Michael Jordan, and the captain with Derek Jeter and look, those, those have huge popularity, and they’re not near as expensive to put together. So I think we’ll see a lot more of that, because people a love sports and B, you can create those and get a lot a lot of viewership for it doesn’t take as much as when you have to do a Marvel movie and have 10 different visual effects companies and high paid actors. And, you know, it’s it’s, it’s very, it’s very expensive. So I think that’s probably one of the bigger challenges today. I think when people realize that before, a bit a big movie like that. Even makes money, it has to earn 300 $400 million, just to break even. Yeah, a lot. Yeah. It’s it’s, it’s crazy. Yeah, it is crazy. To be honest, it’s mind boggling.

Anne Bibb 27:14
So you’ve been named to several lists of most powerful and influential women in media. What do you think sets you apart from others in your field? And what are some of the accomplishments that you’re most proud of?

Carol Hanley 27:28
Listen, I don’t think that there’s it’s not that I’m set apart from others. In my field, I think there’s a lot of women just like me.I have been fortunate, and that I’ve worked with great PR people who are helpful, and in us getting our word out. But I don’t think I’m not going to say I’m special from other people. What I what I will say is, I think a distinguishing characteristic if I had to name one is that I’m not as concerned about making mistakes, or embarrassing myself as some people I think, in particular, sometimes women are hesitant to raise their hand to participate in a high level conversation in a business meeting. They don’t want to make a mistake, they don’t wanna embarrass themselves. And I had an experience in my life that actually was in the seventh grade. And I’ll tell you, if you don’t mind my quick little side story. No, I please.

Carol Hanley 28:44
I’m in the seventh grade. I was in a very small, very rural town, where everyone knows each other. And my mom made my clothing. So I was walking around wearing Little House on the Prairie dresses, looking like a goofball, when you know, Jordache jeans and Calvin Klein’s were coming out and you know, all these girls wear. They look very different from from me wearing clothing that my mother made. I look like an Amish girl. That’s important because going into junior high, I was very, very insecure. And early in the year I got nominated to be a class president. And by the way, I was also very heavy. So I was insecure, didn’t didn’t feel good about my body didn’t feel good about my clothing. And here I was nominated to be class president. And I knew it was a cruel joke. I knew it was a cruel joke. And so I went home a cry that they nominated me because I I knew it was to make fun of me.

Carol Hanley 29:54
So I went through the process. my dad, who I was I’m very close with, he said, You got to do this, just just do it. And so I did it, I went through the speeches I went through, almost wanted to pass out. And most of them, you know, I went through that whole process, I was running my running mate was what I would have considered. Her name was Ellen, and she was one of the most popular kids in the seventh grade. So I voted for Ellen.But in the end, I did lose. But I lost my one vote. And that vote was mine.

Carol Hanley 30:34
And that made a very lasting impact in my life, it was a very, very early aha moment for me, which is, if you don’t have the courage to vote for yourself, you will never be successful. And that has stuck with me. So if there’s anything that maybe sets me apart a little bit, it’s that I was fortunate enough to have that experience, and that I am willing to take some risks that others maybe have been less willing to take for that reason.

Anne Bibb 31:11
That is an amazing story. And I love the if you don’t, you know, if you’re not going to vote for yourself, you’re not going to believe in yourself. Right? And why should anybody else?

Carol Hanley 31:25
That’s 100%. Right.

Anne Bibb 31:27
My next question, and one of my final questions, how apropos was going to be what advice would you give somebody just starting out in the media industry? And what qualities do you think are really essential for success in this field?

Carol Hanley 31:49
I would give the advice to have self confidence. I would give the advice, though, to back that up with a lot of education. And it doesn’t have to be schooled. I’m not talking about get it as many degrees as you can. But read, talk to people, understand your business, really understand your business. And then when you form opinions, be willing to express them have the confidence, but you have to do your homework, you have to be schooled. And if you’re schooled, trust yourself, just trust yourself. And I love that you pointed out I’m not talking about University. I’m not talking about getting a PhD. I’m talking about learning your craft. That’s right.

Anne Bibb 32:35
So Carol, why would somebody reach out to you? And how would somebody reach out to you?

Carol Hanley 32:42
Well, I, they may feel free to email me. I’m at I’m on LinkedIn.

Carol Hanley 32:53
Look, I, if someone is interested in our products, I’d be happy to talk to them. If they’re just interested in networking and talking about the industry, I’m also happy to talk to him. I’m a I’m a big networker. And I’m a big believer that we’re all here for each other. So yeah, and I’m open to do any number of conversations. So yeah. And those were linked below for those of you who are watching on YouTube, for those of you who are listening only, I’m glad that she spelled it out for you. But that’s just an incentive for you to watch next time and see how fabulous we look.

Anne Bibb 33:28
And Carol, thank you so much for you joining the show. It was my pleasure. It’s fun. It’s nice to talk to you.

Anne Bibb 33:36
And for those of you who joined us and watched we appreciate you and we will see you again next week on unexpected journey. As we wrap the episode up, we would like to take this time to thank you for joining us this week on unexpected journey. Our guest information will be linked in the episode description along with a link to our company website, remote and our hosts website Anne Please don’t forget to like subscribe and share on your favorite podcast app and on our YouTube channel so that you never miss an episode and we can continue to bring them to you. Let us know your thoughts on what we discussed in the comment section. And once again, thank you for joining us. We hope to see you again next week for another episode of unexpected journey.


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