This month we reflect on May trends which include advertisers that are making headlines based on building ESG into their marketing strategy, how subscriptions services across retail are remaining a strong choice for consumers and how media owners in display are hyper-targeting as they prepare to navigate a post-cookie world.

A brand leading sustainably by example

If you want to see a brand prioritising ESG in its marketing strategy, look no further than Giffgaff. It’s a forward-thinking brand which leads by example and this recent article in Marketing Week  highlights that. Giffgaff not only works on its on its own ESG deliverables but also challenges its agencies, partners and suppliers to work harder towards joint sustainability goals. As an agency, it’s interesting to see a brand leaning so strongly into this and comparatively how we can encourage brands to take more of this approach if it’s slightly more unfamiliar territory.

Giffgaff’s marketing strategy director, George Bramall, emphasises the importance of incorporating carbon impact into media planning; alongside reach, frequency, and cost. Over the past year, Giffgaff has reduced its carbon footprint by a whopping 52 tonnes, 14% of its annual media plan, by considering carbon impact in its media strategy. This includes taking bold decisions such as potentially diversifying from major digital players like Facebook and Google to newer suppliers with better carbon reduction practices.

Achieving B Corp accreditation, Giffgaff launched the “Up To Good Collective Fund” to support carbon reduction efforts. The company prioritises decarbonising at the source of its advertising and collaborates with partners to ensure responsible reach, such as turning off out-of-home sites after midnight. Initiatives like providing 250 refurbished phones to Big Issue vendors underline Giffgaff’s commitment to sustainability. Bramall notes the challenge and reward of achieving B Corp status and balancing people, planet and profit. Giffgaff’s digital-only approach aids sustainability by minimising its physical footprint. Looking ahead, the company aims to enhance its responsible reach principles and leverage its sustainability ethos to attract top talent.

Consumers are choosing convenience in retail with subscriptions

It’s a trend that won’t be surprising to many of us, as we assess our own behaviours towards shopping. Retail subscriptions are a significant growth area for eCommerce, offering consumers convenience and reducing their need for in-store shopping.

A recent survey by PYMNTS found that 42% of subscribers shop in physical stores less often due to their subscriptions. While nearly one-third of subscribers rely on scheduled or auto-fill subscriptions, 15% show to prefer manual online orders.

When it comes to demographics, unsurprisingly, younger consumers, particularly millennials (39%) and bridge millennials (38%), are more likely to use subscriptions than older generations. However, only 3.8% of subscribers have completely stopped in-store shopping, but for particular brands such as pet food subscriptions, this rises to 11%. Additionally, almost a third of subscribers foresee exclusively using subscriptions in the future, though currently, 35% report no change in their in-store habits.

There are numerous reasons why consumers are purchasing from retail subscriptions rather than going into stores. Dare we say it, many behaviours have stemmed from the pandemic which accelerated the change in how people shop. More obviously it is due to things such as convenience and saving time. Coupled with this is the shift in what is important to people such as personalisation and product offerings based on consumer preferences and previous purchases, enhancing the shopping experience and ensuring tailored products. Subscription services also often provide discounts or special pricing, making it more economical for consumers to subscribe than to purchase the same items individually in-store. Using digital marketing as an advantage, there’s the added benefit of pushing product discovery, allowing consumers to discover and try new products they might not have selected on their own, something you may not be able to do so easily in store. The challenge for eCommerce merchants is to attract those still shopping in-store by meeting evolving consumer expectations with innovative subscription services.

What a display! Soaking up insights from our media owners

In May we hosted the experts from MiQ, TapTap Digital and Teads who shared insights into their latest innovations within the display space. The team from programmatic media partner MiQ, detailed their approach which centred around the pillars of Identify, Activate and Measure. They showcased the transition from cookie-based targeting to advanced geo-contextual targeting. These contextual methods using cookieless datasets, leverage MiQ’s privacy-centric Airgrid technology to build personas and create audiences based on browsing behaviour. MiQ’s measurement solutions include display metrics, brand uplift and sustainability indicators, moving away from traditional brand metrics and offering a comprehensive, risk-free solution aligned with diverse business objectives.

Location, location, location: TapTap Digital highlighted the power of location-based data in a post-cookie world, demonstrating how it defines and discovers ideal customers through geo-referenced Mastercard data and extensive postcode-level insights. With a mind-boggling 200,000+ geohashes in the UK, TapTap offers real-time geo-fencing, mobile retargeting and location-adaptive solutions across display, mobile, digital OOH, DOOH and CTV, ensuring precise audience engagement and adaptability to time and weather.

The team from Teads shared their in-feed display advertising solutions across premium publishers, emphasising a readiness for a cookieless future with advanced accidental click removal technology and creative optimisations. They highlighted the platform’s ability to provide comprehensive insights on audience behaviour, attention, conversions and carbon output, boasting a 99% higher carbon efficiency compared to other in-feed publishers.

All three share a common goal of leveraging advanced, privacy-centric technologies to effectively engage and measure audiences in a post-cookie world as well as a commitment to sustainability and operational efficiency.

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For years Charities have been honing in on “signature” or “flagship” events in order to amplify  the strength of brand and fundraising efforts. Due to the size and scale of such events, they are hugely impactful for both brand awareness and the all-important fundraising targets.

Marketing Insight: using events to reach and connect

One “signature event” that has established itself as a staple in the charity events calendar, is Cancer Research UK’s Race For Life. Born in 1994, this event now sees hundreds of thousands of participants come together every year to commemorate and celebrate family and friends, all whilst raising money for the cause. While Cancer Research UK run multiple other significant fundraising events, the Race For Life is consistently the highest raising mass participation event in the UK each year.

Despite Covid-19 forcing events to standstill for quite some time, Cancer Research overcame this issue after its annual 2020 race was unable to take place. In order to recover some of its forecasted losses, the brand opted to take a virtual shift, and that is where “Race for Life at Home” stemmed from. The Massive Top 25 list in 2021 revealed that 19 of the previous top 25 charity events were unable to go ahead in 2020 and only 51% of income was achieved, with income falling from £143M in 2019 to £74.6M in 2020.

It is difficult to pinpoint a specific action that the brand undertook in order to launch the event to success, with the first event in 1994 seeing a total of 750 women taking part to raise £48,000. However, there are a series of innovations taken over the years leading to this success. In Paul de Gregorio’s ‘I wish I’d Thought Of That’ talk he mentions how, “Race for life has been so successful for so long because innovation is at its heart – it doesn’t stand still. This innovation seeks to make the event as inspiring and supportive for all the women who take part by giving them the opportunity to take their stand against cancer.”

 

Media Innovation: effective strategies to differentiate a charity’s brand

Paul de Gregorio also highlights the two special characteristics that were introduced for the participants, to inspire and commemorate others. From 1998, participants completed the race with signs on their backs, whether it be to celebrate those who have survived cancer, or to commemorate loved ones who had lost their lives to the disease. From 2001, before every event, a one-minute silence was introduced giving participants the opportunity to reflect. It is important to remember the reasons why participants fundraise for these events. Adding personal touches was extremely powerful and served to inspire others to take their stand and participate in future events.

Another factor of success for the Race For Life is it’s inclusivity. Whilst it is true that initially this event was only open to women, it was this unique non-competitive atmosphere that made the event special to participants and kept supporters coming back year after year. Participants are encouraged to “Walk, jog or run” either 3km, 5km and 10km distances it highlights the steps taken to ensure that people of any ability within the UK are able to take their stand against cancer and participate in the event. Race For Life doesn’t stand still, it is reactive to feedback and with recent studies showing that supporters would be more likely to take part in a mixed family and friends group, Race For Life in 2019  opened up participation to everyone. There is no doubt that the level of inclusivity and accessibility put in place for the event is a major contributing factor to its success. By reducing the barriers to entry, you can significantly improve event participation.

Race For Life has also paved the way in the form of technology and fundraising tools. Cancer Research UK has worked very closely with JustGiving to ensure a seamless and streamlined experience for participants to set up online fundraising pages. They also ran a telemarketing test in 2004 where fundraisers were contacted and asked if they would be willing to also support Cancer Research UK through Regular Giving, which showed strong response rates.

Utilising customer lists and cross-marketing fundraising products is now a fundamental part of any charity fundraising strategy, it was this kind of action from innovative charity brands that paved the way for such strategies.

Virtual events may be mainly associated with the impact of COVID-19 and lockdown, and it is true that there was a significant increase and pivot towards virtual events in 2020. However virtual events have been effective long before that. The ALS ice bucket challenge back in 2014 raised $115 million worldwide. Charities like Alzheimer’s Research UK also ran challenge events, such as the award winning “Running Down Dementia” from 2016, which by 2019 had raised over £1million. MI Media had the privilege of working on this campaign in 2022.

The Massive Top 25, who compile the 25 largest mass participation fundraising events, highlight how on average, when charities lost events but provided another avenue to offer support, they held on to 40% of the income they would expect in a normal year. Cancer Research UK’s Race for life at home, raised £2.8m in 2020 and £1.5m in 2021. Despite this not reaching figures of its in-person events, a switch in approach enabled the brand to raise funds in the absence of in person events.

 

Accelerating Growth

According to the Cancer Research UK Annual Report & Accounts 2019/20, £57.4m total was raised from events. This equates to over 57% of event income coming from Race For Life, highlighting the significance of hosting flagship events. In total, the Race For Life has seen over 10 million participants and has raised over £970m since it’s beginnings in 1994.

Virtual events likely saw their peak in 2020/2021, with the The Massive Top 25 2023 reporting a drop in virtual events income of 50% year on year. The benefits of virtual events are the low cost of running and low cost of entry form of fundraising that can still produce successful income generation. Virtual challenges are inclusive and can be a personal endeavour for participants to complete in their own time in locations they are comfortable with, whilst still having the opportunity to fundraise. I suspect that we will see many charity brands reduce their investment in virtual events moving forwards, however this may give those who remain the opportunity to find new participants.

Cancer Research UK’s Race For Life demonstrates the effectiveness of event fundraising. Having a flagship event significantly contributes to fundraising efforts. Tapping into people’s fundraising motives in fundraising is vital, as well as ensuring events are inclusive and accessible It opens up the pool of applicants and fosters a non-competitive environment. Innovation is key, it is important to keep testing new methods of acquisition and streamline your fundraising efforts to maximise the amounts raised.

If you would like more information or guidance on your fundraising events, both in person and virtual, please contact us and we will be happy to help.

Annabelle Ottaway, Account Director

To continue our A day in the life series, Account Director Annabelle Ottaway spoke to us about the importance of ESG, vibrant client activity and the how thinking outside the box can come in handy.

Annabelle Ottaway, Account Director

What led you to a career in media?

The truth is, media was never in the grand plan. After my philosophy degree, I went travelling and enrolled in my law conversion course. But, with six months to kill before embarking on the course, I decided to start a marketing internship in London with The Fork (previously known as Book a Table). You may be wondering why I am not in a court room defending clients? The reason is, after three years at The Fork and three deferrals of the course, I faced the music and decided that I had found my real passion and it was time to put the law idea to bed. My time at The Fork allowed me to progress and develop my skills & knowledge within a constantly evolving scale-up company. Being a foodie, it also had great wine and dine perks as I was often out and about reviewing restaurants.

I then went on to secure a role as Marketing Manager at 7thingsmedia, then on to a creative agency in Marlow before returning to the hustle and bustle of London working in roles at Accord, Under The Doormat and Triptease. Whilst I had a mix of experience across in-house marketing, media and creative, I was attracted to the role at MI as I was drawn towards purely media planning and buying, working for an independent agency with ambitious clients from various industries who are open to trying new media approaches. It ticked all the boxes for my next challenge.

 

What is your proudest moment at MI?

It has to be winning Real Techniques and launching its first ever OOH advertising activity. It was great to be fully immersed in this new media journey with the brand from start to finish. It is always so rewarding seeing a brief being brought to life  and to see the activity light up central London was the icing on the cake. I also really enjoy working on Simply Business (a business insurance client for SMEs) and seeing the growth journey that it’s been on since being becoming a client of ours back in 2022.

 

What are you looking forward to the most for the rest of 2024?

The topic that is on the tip of everyone’s tongues…ESG. MI has been making a lot of progress within this space and there is a real motivation to keep driving this forward. This is something I am really excited to be taking over and driving forward with various members of the MI team. It is great to see how passionate people within MI are about this hot topic. Our CEO David Sequeira especially understands that, despite being a small agency, we will continuously aim to punch above our weight as its important for us as a business, our clients and the world in which we live in. With our upcoming panel event on the topic taking place shortly, our very own ESG report launching and the work we are undertaking with clients, it’s a very exciting time to be involved.

 

What advice would you give to someone thinking about a career in media? 

Curiosity is key! There are various elements within the media industry offering roles in which you can tap into either your left or right brain, where you can be creative or analytical. The options are (almost) endless, so aim to get as much exposure across as many different avenues as possible whilst remembering that there is something to be learnt from every single person within a company. Release your inner sponge and get absorbing.

 

What mistakes have you learnt from?

I have not one, but two mistakes in which I have learnt from. Rewinding back to my time at The Fork, it had a B2B arm and one Christmas as many companies do, we planned to send out some client Christmas cards. I should’ve known I was doomed from the get-go when the delivery was proving difficult and whilst I overcame this it got a whole lot worse. The 5,000 Christmas cards arrived, each of which were signed off from ‘live bookongs’. 5,000 cards, with our misspelt company name printed on each and every one. It is fair to say that the guillotine was my best friend that day, snipping off the bottom of the card and creating a postcard for our clients instead. That year I actually won the Marketing Award, maybe it was for always thinking outside of the box?!

 

Who is your role model and why?

Its cliché but it’s my Mum. At the age of 75 she has returned to the world of work and has started working as a freelance solicitor. She has always been a driven women who is passionate about what she does, so much so that when she was 20, she trained racehorses before it was even legal for women to do so. Whilst I thought my “out of the box” thinking with the Christmas cards was great, Mum topped that by putting all of 20 racehorses under the license of her Dad so she could continue to do what she loved, without getting caught. All whilst studying for her law degree.

I have always admired my Mum, but I think it was only until a few weeks ago when running the London Marathon that I really took a moment to appreciate all that she does and her pure resilience. Mile three wasn’t the right time to be getting emotional about how I have the best Mum around, but I guess it really spurred me on. (Annabelle won’t shout about her immense achievement, so we will do it for her, but with her time of 3hr 12mins, she has qualified for the Championship pen for London Marathon 2025!)

 

 

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In April we focused on good news, bad news, debatable news and the news brands themselves. From sector booms in the market provoking us to think about.

CTV landscape: pros and cons 

In 2023, CTV penetration soared to 73%, a remarkable increase from just 11% in 2014. GroupM projects a 13.8% growth in CTV ad revenue for 2024, building on a 10.9% rise in 2023. An article from Samsung  Ads underscores five key factors shaping the CTV landscape:  

  • Broadcasters remain pivotal players, with BVOD and SVOD consumption peaking during prime time, presenting opportunities for other streaming market entrants to capitalise on this time band.  
  • CTV has guided in new ad formats like interactive and shoppable ads, offering novel ways to engage audiences on television screens.  
  • Binge-watching has become commonplace, reflecting the abundance of available content, as indicated by Samsung Ads’ data.  
  • The sustained integration of machine learning across CTV platforms enhances user experience and content discoverability, catering to the demand for personalised content. 
  • Privacy emerges as a crucial consideration, with CTV partners forging alliances with third parties to prioritise user consent and data control while delivering personalised content. Samsung Ads anticipates further partnerships in 2024 to uphold data integrity while ensuring tailored content delivery. 

It is an interesting article that highlights the positives of VOD and other streaming services. However, it fails to mention a few key aspects that we’ve seen with our own clients, that may prove to hinder the growth of CTV. Firstly, measurement isn’t there yet for CTV, which is something we know all our clients want. You’re unable to go into granular detail about what programmes or content impressions were served against, something that is available across VOD. Furthermore, you’re unable to directly attribute any CTV activity, something that is also a struggle across other forms of online video. We have run CTV previously for clients and in most instances, we found the impact this had on incremental reach, on top of our linear TV and VOD, was minimal. Additionally, the content on CTV isn’t necessarily premium and it’s a challenge to meet this premium bar, given that the TV giants such as Sky, ITVX and Channel 4 still dominate this space. 

One positive that can be drawn from CTV is the high level of targeting (something which isn’t available on TV apart from platforms such as Sky AdSmart). However it raises the question, what use is this targeting when you can’t necessarily measure it? CTV is definitely something that will grow once some of the issues with it are ironed out and it’s a good medium for a client that is less interested in direct response, but wants to ensure they’re hitting a specific audience. 

Private medical insurance feels the Boom 

As discussed in our previous trends articles, the insurance sector keeps reaching new peaks, with sub-sectors within it flourishing. The UK healthcare system is facing challenges, leading to a surge in demand for private medical insurance (PMI). With the NHS struggling to provide timely and comprehensive care, more people are turning to PMI or alternative health plans for guaranteed access to treatments. This trend has led to a significant increase in PMI sales, with insurers like Aviva reporting a 58% rise in the first half of 2023. In this landscape, established giants like Bupa, Axa Health, Aviva, and Vitality Health currently dominate the space.  

The rise in PMI is resulting in higher premiums, driven by increasing medical costs and a growing population seeking healthcare. These rising costs threaten to limit access to quality healthcare and worsen health inequality. On a more positive note, and the flip side of this coin, there’s a growing market for innovative non-insurance health solutions that aim to address health disparities. Startups like Huma are investing in data-driven preventative healthcare platforms, while companies like Simplyhealth are exploring new ventures in dental and health plans. These developments offer hope for improving healthcare accessibility and affordability. 

With the market witnessing such dynamic shifts and fresh players entering the arena, it’s going to suggest an anticipated surge in advertising from this sector. There are many price comparison sites out there putting these brands side by side in the rankings, but clever marketing will help them to standout as the landscape becomes increasingly competitive. Working with an insurance brand ourselves, we know that an effective ad, planned successfully across the appropriate platforms will reap the rewards over others who hold back.  

News to us!  

Over the past month, our team has dedicated significant attention to exploring opportunities within news brands to drive growth for our clients. We engaged with Ozone, Mail Metro Media, The Knowledge and The Guardian; participating in insightful sessions that unveiled their offerings in terms of reach, available platforms and advertising strategies, leaving us with valuable insights to ponder. All media owners shed light on consumer trends and delved into how brands can tap into these to accelerate their growth, from The Guardian’s charitable readership habits, Reach highlighting its consumers community growth since the pandemic to The Knowledge living by its ‘less is more’ mobile-first approach in aim to stand out within a crowded media landscape.  

Similarly, we soaked up some insight from the publishing event of the year, The PPA Festival, hearing how publishers are elevating journalistic standards to foster growth. In today’s bustling media landscape, consumers are inundated with content, making trust and truth paramount to navigating the noise and combating online disinformation. The discussions emphasised the importance of returning to the core principles of good journalism, advocating against ‘churnalism’ and urging a focus on producing in-depth, quality content. While reach and engagement remain crucial, reaching and resonating with younger readers presents a unique challenge. It’s essential for journalists to align with the preferences of their audience, recognising that lengthy articles may not resonate with younger demographics. In an era where traditional journalism competes with entertainment giants such as Netflix and the likes, there’s a call for higher standards to maintain relevance and credibility. 

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Tea…it’s more than just a nice, hot, beverage to us Brits. We absolutely adore the stuff, the love affair between the UK and tea is a tale as old as time. As the nation’s beverage of choice in times of distress, celebration and just setting us up for the day ahead, there is no better brew to admire than a lovely cup of Yorkshire Tea.

Less than a decade ago, Yorkshire Tea was the fourth biggest tea brand in the market, but that “proper brew” is now Britain’s top tea brand, demonstrating the strongest growth amongst it’s set. This is no mean feat to achieve in a market that has been in constant decline and where we are very particular and loyal to our favourite brand. Couple that with the “squeeze” on household budgets, the “squeeze” on production and supply costs, as well as blogs encouraging people to “squeeze” more than one cup out of a teabag. I was intrigued to find out how Yorkshire Tea did it…and continue to “milk it” in the black tea world.

Marketing Insight: Yorkshire Tea didn’t want to sacrifice the quality of its beloved brew

As is often the case, it wasn’t one insight or tactic that led to this impressive shift in share of market and brand positioning, but one commonality was a bravery and belief in innovation to drive a real step change.

Firstly, despite many competitors lowering prices to compete with own brands and to increase volume of sales, Yorkshire Tea has always had an unwavering dedication to quality, understanding that people will pay for that. Speaking with The Grocer, Senior Brand Manager, Liz Griffin, explained that, “a quarter of tea drinkers say they’re particular about the tea they drink and are willing to pay more for it. With consumers delaying major purchases, the impact of everyday items that feel a bit indulgent and perk your day up has increased. There’s something really comforting in a traditional brew.” So, we learn our first lesson, never sacrifice the quality of our beloved brew.

Media Innovation: dominating share of voice via TV: The brand also found itself in a position where its competitors were decreasing advertising spend against the backdrop of a declining market and increasing costs. Yorkshire Tea grasped the opportunity to grow share of voice and it paid off. Remarkably, in some instances over the previous five years, Yorkshire Tea had been the sole black tea brand advertising on television. This strategic investment in advertising yielded significant results for the brand. Matt Hill, Director of Research & Planning at Thinkbox highlighting how in 2022, Yorkshire Tea dominated the traditional tea advertising market on TV with an impressive 45% share of voice (SOV). Yorkshire Tea’s market share soared from 20% back in 2015 to nearly 34% in recent years, a truly remarkable achievement. This incredible growth can be attributed to the tangible benefits of maintaining a strong SOV.

Research from econometric agency, Gain Theory, sheds light on the relationship between a brand’s SOV and its price sensitivity. According to its findings, there is a rule-of-thumb correlation that a 10% increase in a brand’s SOV can lead to a 5-20% reduction in its price sensitivity. This occurs because brands with a stronger SOV, backed by robust advertising efforts, are better equipped to maintain market share, and preserve profit margins even in the thick of price increases. Consumers tend to perceive these brands as more trustworthy and valuable, meaning that they will continue to be the ‘go to’ brands despite having higher prices.

 Campaigns, celebs and reigniting the spark for Yorkshire Tea consumers

Yorkshire Tea has also placed huge value on brand creativity and humour. It has created a distinct brand identity that resonates with consumers on a personal level; from its unmistakable Yorkshire roots to its humorous and relatable marketing campaigns. The brand has successfully connected with its target audience by infusing its marketing efforts with authenticity and wit. This is all underpinned by the brand platform ‘Where Everything is Done Proper’. Developed in collaboration with Lucky Generals, the long-running campaign leveraged the star power of Yorkshire-born celebrities such as Sir Patrick Stewart, Michael Parkinson and The Kaiser Chiefs, and the brand aimed to reconnect with consumers and reintroduce them to the brand’s values and heritage. Through these familiar and well-known faces, the brand aimed to create a sense of trust and familiarity, encouraging consumers to rediscover the quality and authenticity that Yorkshire Tea offers.

’Where Everything is Done Proper’ redefined Yorkshire Tea as synonymous with excellence in every aspect. By positioning the brand as one that upholds the highest standards in everything it does, Yorkshire Tea reinforced its identity as a premium choice among tea drinkers.

Accelerating Growth: Marketing down to a Tea

Yorkshire Tea has never lost sight of its brand identity, has never sacrificed its quality or been afraid to maintain its price premium. It understands how to engage with consumers in humorous, authentic ways to make sure people know why they’re paying more and why they should want to. The brand took brave, but sensible decisions with marketing budgets to grow share of voice, even when bigger competitors had pulled back from the market. Yorkshire Tea continues to reap the rewards today. And that’s how you do proper marketing REET good.

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To conclude our ESG Insights: Behind the Headlines series, we are delighted to welcome Tom Patterson from Channel 4 to talk to us about what’s happening in the realm of AV.

Tom works in the sales team as senior commercial development & sustainability lead at Channel 4. He works with independent media agencies and new to TV brands to reach audiences at scale across the Channel 4 ecosystem: linear, streaming and social. Tom also leads the commercial sustainability strategy, working with the corporate sustainability manager to deliver on Channel 4’s commitments to mitigate the impacts of the climate crisis.

Prior to being sustainability lead Tom led the ‘Greener Channel 4 Project’ and co-chaired the employee rep group 4Earth. During which time it delivered Channel 4’s first sustainability roadmap which catalysed impactful change in our operations and supply chain. More recently he’s been working closely with the Ad Association’s Ad Net Zero and Purpose Disruptors in an effort to decarbonise the advertising industry and inspire viewers to make positive changes.

Q. Tell me about what Channel 4 is doing currently in the ESG and sustainability space and the role you play in this?

A. It’s been a busy start to 2024 at Channel 4 in the ESG space. Channel 4 has always been at the forefront of innovation and at the end of 2023 we had our Science Based Targets validated. This means our near-term and net zero emissions targets are verified by the Science Based Targets Initiative and align with a 1.5 degree global climate change trajectory. Science based targets help lead the way to a zero-carbon economy, boost innovation and drive sustainable growth by bringing ambitions in line with best practice for delivery.  We have since been flat out implementing the processes to ensure we have a clear transition plan to dramatically reduce our emissions.

More recently we launched our first equity strategy, which will build diversity and inclusion into all our decision-making across the business, while ensuring that there are fair outcomes and opportunities for all those we work with. The strategy, “Equity by Design”, provides a blueprint for continued progress and allows us to drive industry-wide change on multiple fronts. It is a framework for us to continue being a disruptive force for change with a focus on societal impact.

In the commercial team we’re excited about the return of the Paralympics in Paris this summer. It’s a unique opportunity to work with likeminded brands to align with the greatest show in the world. There’s always a real buzz at Channel 4 when the Paras marketing drops and the content is firmed up. It’ll also follow the debut of the winning ad from our most recent Diversity in Advertising Award competition. It’s Channel 4’s annual £1 million creative competition challenging UK brands and creative agencies to be more inclusive in their TV campaigns. The award is an established industry scheme designed to encourage greater and more authentic representation of diverse UK communities through mainstream UK television advertising. The overall ambition of the award is to get more representative advertising campaigns on air and encourage greater inclusive thinking within the creative process behind the campaigns. In 2023, we asked brands to be bold & embrace being ‘Proud All Over’ by submitting ground-breaking campaign ideas representing the LGBTQIA+ community. It revisited the theme of 2019’s award, LGBTQ+ representation.

As a publicly-owned, remit & purpose driven business, environmental sustainability and equitable representation are the foundation of Channel 4. In my role as Commercial Development & Sustainability Lead for Channel 4 Sales I’ve been working across the business to ensure everything we do as a sales team has considered people, planet and profit.

 

Q. Do you think advertisers (our clients) should be planning media investment with ESG goals in mind?

A. Yes. Broadly we are seeing shifts in people expecting more from brands in this space, moving to expecting more meaningful action. People are spending more time engaging with social issues and there is more emphasis on brands to stand for something beyond selling products. But of course, any campaign that is ‘purpose led’ needs to be genuine. And not solely for winning awards or latching onto social media trends. Citizens can smell inauthenticity a mile off and will take brands to task if they aren’t walking the walk.

 

Q. Are advertisers and their agencies leaning forward on this topic collaboratively do you think?

A. Our Black in Business initiative is a good example of media owner, agency and advertiser collaboration. Channel 4 and Lloyds Bank launched Black in Business to help boost up to five black-owned businesses with TV advertising airtime worth more than half a million pounds.

In addition to receiving airtime, each of the five business owners had a creative bespoke TV advert made for them and six months of tailored marketing and business support from Channel 4, Lloyds Bank and social enterprise, DOES.

The initiative offers support to small businesses that are new to TV advertising and comes after research commissioned by the Channel 4 commercial team revealed that black entrepreneurs face more obstacles setting up and running their businesses than their white counterparts.

Black in Business, launched in partnership with Lloyds Bank, forms part of Channel 4’s Black to Front legacy – which is our ongoing commitment to improve black representation on-screen and more widely in the TV industry.

 

Q. Are there companies you feel have already demonstrated a robust strategy in this space and if so, what are they doing? And who is inspiring you or innovating in this area at the moment?

A. Specifically, in the “green” space, Channel 4 is a founding signatory of the Ad Association’s Ad Net Zero steering group and contributed to its book ‘Sustainable Advertising: How advertising can support a better future’ written by AA’s Matt Bourn and Sebastian Munden, former CEO of Unilever, chair of WRAP and ANZ. Ad Net Zero and its members have built a pretty robust strategy to transition the advertising industry to be more sustainable. It has five clear actions for the ad industry to follow and, importantly, holds members accountable by auditing emission reduction. The AA will also be launching a gold standard carbon calculator for media planning with a methodology agreed by the industry and verified by academics.

An organisation in the creative and media space that I’m in awe of are the Purpose Disruptors. They are on a mission to transform the advertising industry into a force for good that will promote a thriving future. It recently launched The Agency For Nature which is a team of young creatives from top UK agencies who are harnessing their collective expertise to connect citizens back to nature and a sustainable lifestyle. It has already launched several inspiring and punchy campaigns.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, in the research and climate comms space are ACT Climate Labs. It does some incredible work debunking misinformation, supercharging climate comms and offering strategic advice for its members on best practice for impactful campaigns. Its insight, including The Persuadables (the 69% of people in the UK who are neither climate activists or climate deniers), has been invaluable to the C4 commercial team when responding to client briefs and in forming our own strategy.

 

Q. What do you think key players in the industry might be focused on in 2024 with regards to an ESG agenda?

A. AI is obviously attracting a lot of attention at the moment. What if AI & ESG combined? How can we harness the power of technology to better society? Protect the planet?

 

Q. If you were King for the day, what ESG policy would you decree?!

A. There are already plenty of strong ESG policies out there – my decree would be to adhere to them! Make them front and centre of all decision making! As a communication industry and the architects of desire we have the power to shift perceptions and inspire meaningful change. What a world it’d be if the advertising and media industry exercised that power by protecting people, planet and profit? Make those your key KPIs.

Channel 4s purpose is to create change through entertainment by representing unheard voices, challenging with purpose and reinventing entertainment. 

Jamie Gibbins, Account Manager

Jamie Gibbins, an Account Manager here at MI is up next in our ‘A day in the life’ series. Jamie sat down to talk to us about how he found a career in media, the great client work he has done with his team over the past year and advice he would give to those wanting to enter the world of media. 

Jamie Gibbins, Account Manager

What led you to a career in media?

As I was so unsure what do, University was ruled out, so I opted to do an apprenticeship and whilst the money didn’t stretch that far (7k for the year) I gained valuable experience and an insight into various aspects of media, igniting a spark and my interest in PPC and advertising. After completing my apprenticeship, I secured a job at a small agency in my hometown in good old Surrey and after three and a half great years at Media Minds Global I took a break to go travelling. I returned to the UK on a real high after my travels, but then Covid hit and like so many others I was made redundant from Kau Media Group, so I had a reset and decided to start freelancing during lockdown. Following the Covid chaos I joined OMD for 2 years where my main focus was on the UK government account. As the senior manager, I headed up each of the different channels from ppc search, social and display across both B2B and B2C. I then joined MI in 2023 and since being here I have been trusted in my role to have more autonomy over my work and the clients I work with which has been great.

 

What does a typical day look like?

First things first, I check my emails, particularly looking out for any flags from clients. From there the team have account check-ins on the various clients that we have and action points are made for the day ahead. At the moment, we are working on a lot of new client briefs and post campaign analysis, keeping me and the team busy and on our toes. Alongside this, we have our usual weekly and monthly client calls where we fully digest our work, discuss where we envision taking these accounts and map out what their growth journey will look like.

 

What is your proudest moment at MI?

I am really proud of MI’s Claude Litner initiative, where the agency is providing and involved in delivering lectures, sessions and workshops about digital media to students of UWL. Presenting a session to the students at the university allowed me to not only display my level of expertise but also to hopefully inspire upcoming stars in the media and advertising space.

 

What advice would you give to someone thinking about a career in media?  

To put it simply, try a lot of little different things until you figure out what you like. Whether that be what sectors you like working across, what channels you enjoy using or what avenues you want to go down. This will help you decide on the direction of your career as you’ll have experience in various fields and will be able to digest and understand all aspects of a media campaign.

 

Do you have a dream client or an ad campaign you particularly love?

There are a lot of great ad campaigns and brands out there, but as a matter of fact, two campaigns that I love come from our very own clients. RNID, was such a rewarding campaign to work on and what made it even better was how grateful the client was for the great results that the campaign produced. They were so appreciative of our hard work and efforts and could see how these transpired to help grow the brand. JML is another example of huge growth experienced so early on in our relationship working with the client. Now we have mastered the growth progression, we are focusing on amplifying JMLs profit.

 

Who is your role model and why?

It has to be my dad, he has been through some challenging times over the past year but he’s taken it all in his stride and has come out the other side. If we are talking celebs, I’d go with Gareth Southgate, purely on the basis of no matter how bad he is he still somehow manages to keep his job, that’s a skill in itself right?

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For our penultimate ESG insights interview, we welcome Matt Longley, MD at Mobsta. Matt started his career working in the civil service for HM Revenue and Customs and, while there, tried everything from border control to marketing. Eventually he settled on marketing and moved to the Electoral Commission to run its marketing team. From there he took his public sector experience to GroupM’s Government media buying arm, M4C. Matt thereafter moved to Carat with the Government account in 2015 to run its newly formed Government Media Team. He subsequently moved to Vizeum to run the planning team for Camelot, TSB, Weetabix and Merlin before completing the client/agency/media owner triangle by joining Mobsta where he is the Managing Director.  

He is now on a mission to make Mobsta the most sustainable media partner on clients’ plans. Let’s hear what Matt has to say.

Q. Tell me about what Mobsta is doing currently that relates to ESG and how you’re positively contributing to the ESG movement in media 

 A. Mobsta uses lots of different data sets to work out the locations where people are likely to be. Respecting GDPR and personal privacy, we have developed a platform that indexes thousands of different audiences to tell you where they are likely to be at any given time. This means we can make sure the work we do is highly targeted which leads neatly into sustainability.  

Two and a half years ago we started focusing more on our carbon emissions after a conversation with a client. The client thought viewability and brand safety on campaigns were spot on but enquired about whether the emissions could be measured. That same week I’d had a conversation with another business about it tracking its emissions and it just seemed serendipitous. When we started to look into it, it was clear there was little information about the media industry’s emissions which prompted us to think about change. We took it upon ourselves to find out which led to the development of our calculator. We weren’t tracking anything at that stage so were unaware of our output as a business. We decided to get this off the ground and worked with a consultancy called Zero Bees which helps SMEs understand their carbon emissions. Together, we developed the first digital media owner carbon calculator GreenLight, that looked at full emissions from the data centre, on to data transfer, through to end user device. At the beginning, the only thing people were properly able to measure was the end user device which we knew only accounted for 58% of emissions. We were the first company of our kind to track full emissions on digital campaigns and have now been doing this fully for two years.  

We can help clients reduce their emissions before they launch campaigns in the following ways

  • Targeting: This works by reducing impressions. For example, rather than buying 5m impressions on the open marketplace in order to reach very broad audience, we reduce this down to find a far better targeted audience (approx. 1m) and instead serve that segment the impressions, removing a lot of wastage around it. Just by doing this you will still reach the audience and get the desired impact, however it also reduces emissions by more than 50%. 
  • Creative selection: This involves having carbon emissions in mind when selecting formats when buying a campaign (e.g. display formats, video formats, native). A 30 second pre-roll video is 101x carbon heavier than a standard display ad. We don’t dictate to clients how to build a campaign to be most carbon efficient, but we highlight the carbon impacts of the formats to add a new planning currency into their plans. We aren’t saying never do video as we know it has a place in digital plans, however we might suggest ways of lowering e.g. reduce 10% of video impressions. 
  • Streamable ads: When you serve a video to someone’s mobile device, whether they watch it or not, the carbon is expended. We partnered with SeenThis which only charges as you’re watching it. If the consumer was only to watch two seconds of the ad, the client will only pay for the segment of the ad that was watched and hence reduces carbon emissions. 

On average we try and reduce every campaign we are involved in by between 80%. There will always be residual emissions on campaigns, as there is on everything. To account for this, we offset to balance these emissions. We invest in forward facing, gold standard projects that prevent carbon going into the atmosphere in the first place, such as investing in water filters for families in third world countries to avoid burning fossil fuels.  

 

Q. Do you think advertisers should be planning media investment with ESG goals in mind? 

 A. Absolutely. We’re aware that agencies and brands have a tough time proving performance on campaigns and we don’t want to take a hit on performance just to meet ESG targets. When we talked about streamable ads, those case studies have seen increased engagement and increased attention because the ad runs smoother when it’s streamed. Therefore, by doing the thing that reduces carbon you can enhance the user experience. It’s difficult sometimes to get clients to take it seriously or do something about it. Everyone talks about it, but actually doing something seems harder. Our advice is take the first step. It doesn’t need to be perfect. A test and learn approach is what’s needed and once they see it’s effective and working, it will become more accepted. 

 

Q. Are advertisers and their agencies leaning forward on this topic collaboratively?  

 A.There’s a lot of talk now compared to two years ago. I think the key is taking action on it. Talking is the first step, measurement is the second step, action is the third step. In the UK we are leading the charge.  

 

Q. Are there companies you feel have already demonstrated a robust strategy in this space and if so, what are they doing? Who is inspiring you or innovating in this area at the moment? 

A. We went to a PR company about getting our ESG message out and they wanted to know “what is the result that makes you see what you have done as a success?”. For example, is it that you’re hoping to onboard more clients and campaigns, is it that you want to make more money? We said no. All we want is for people to be talking about it, we want raised awareness and to pick up on it and be doing it within business. I’m not upset others are doing what we are doing, I am glad that, collectively, media companies are collaboratively part of the movement.  

Last year we worked with Child’s Farm. The marketing team wanted to work specifically with a B Corp. It had in previous years focused its audience on another digital vendor as it was the right audience for the brand. But they chose to move their budget to Mobsta due to our campaign response being impressive for its delivery and impact offering, as well as being backed up by our B Corp credentials. I admire brands that try and take the charge. 

We have recently been working with Lego to help it understand what carbon emissions are in the media space and understand its own emissions. For a large brand to consider this in its media planning and buying is great to see and, although it might not have a commercial benefit to us directly, it feels like the right thing to do. 

 

 Q. What do you think key players in the industry might be focused on in 2024 with regards to an ESG agenda? 

A. I think there’s a wider ESG question. When we became a B Corp it wasn’t just about measuring carbon emissions, it was ensuring we are doing right by our people. We try and have a relatively flat structure, good culture and give useful benefits. Obviously, everyone wants to make a profit, but we are people and planet first and we really do believe that. We all need to do whatever we can to make the world a better place and help our teams to do their best work. 

Also, a lot of people are talking about the “post Cookie world” and when it’s going to happen. At the moment, with Cookies still in play, you can be targeted and buy for impressions. Without Cookies the way the industry targets audiences will need to change. Mobsta is already post-Cookie ready and has been for a while as our audience and insights planning tool “TraffiQ” lets us index your audiences to a full postcode level. This means we don’t need Cookies to reach people in a targeted way and there’s less wastage. With the end of the Cookie and in the absence of the right tools, I hope the industry doesn’t start casting the net too wide again as this would be wasteful. Instead I hope the industry looks to innovate and develop new ways to be targeted that are GDPR compliant and ESG friendly.  

Thinking invertedly, in the future we realise that within programmatic advertising there’s an inconvenient truth that there’s a carbon emission expended when you bid for an ad whether you win it or not. Our own goal for this year and beyond is trying to work with DSPs to reduce the bid/win ratio. 

 

Q. Do you have any frustrations with how the media industry is handling ESG? 

A. There’s a level of greenwashing which I find frustrating. However as long as businesses and people are doing something to tackle the issue and not just talking about it, that’s fine. When I think of off-setting, it has a bad stigma around it and obviously it isn’t always enough, but we do have to cut people some slack. At least companies are taking a step in right direction.
 

 Q. If you were King for the day, what ESG policy would you decree?! 

A. We can’t do anything as an industry until we measure everything. I would decree that for every media plan that goes out and is bought, the carbon is measured. Because until people know the impact of their own work and what it means, people aren’t going to take it seriously. Everyone needs to be aware of their own responsibility before they can improve.  

 

Mobsta reaches your audiences at scale with sustainable digital campaigns delivered with  transparency, simplicity and speed.

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This past month has seen a mix of captivating trends and breaking stories. From the BBC’s surprising announcement about its potential advertising commercialisation through audio channels, to the insurance sector demonstrating remarkable resilience and introducing new disruptor brands, there’s no shortage of buzz. And if that’s not enough, we’re also hearing firsthand from media owners in the realm of social media navigating the ever-evolving social landscape. Here we explore each of these in a bit more detail.

The BBC’s bold move: advertising on audio platforms

News broke that the BBC is poised to venture into uncharted territory by introducing advertising on its radio and podcast content via third-party platforms like Amazon Music, Apple Music and Spotify. While this strategic move could bolster commercial revenue for the public service broadcaster, it has ignited some debate within the industry. Ads are expected to appear on smaller factual, drama and comedy content initially, with popular programs following suit if successful. News and current affairs content will remain ad-free.

Introducing ads on BBC’s audio content is a contentious decision. It’s apparent that it will boost revenue for the BBC, however it risks compromising the BBC’s reputation for ad-free quality programming. Striking a balance between financial sustainability and maintaining public trust should be the priority. Not only this, but it will also cause tension with other broadcasters and media houses in general. There’s a question of whether this approach is fair and if it’s going to destroy the advertising industry as it exists now. Although the BBC has announced it will advertise on audio programmes, that is not to say it won’t expand to other channels and platforms in the future. This could take away from competitors who don’t have public funding and start to damage trade substantially.

Reading into why the BBC is looking for this opportunity is interesting. It seems unlikely that it is purely just for commercial benefit, but considerably to do with the pressure and actions of the Conservative government. This government over the years has significantly reduced the BBC’s funding, impacting talent retention and programme quality. It has also been threatened with license funding being withdrawn by the current government and will undoubtedly be trying to make up for the license freeze during the pandemic.

In this high-stakes game, the BBC treads carefully, navigating the fine line between tradition and adaptation. The outcome will shape not only its own future but also the broader media landscape.

Resilience in insurance and shake-ups with new start-ups entering the scene

Working with entrepreneurial clients in the business insurance sector, we know first-hand that it takes a solid brand strategy, competitive edge and distinctive, strategic marketing to stand out. With 90% of adults holding at least one insurance policy, the insurance sector is withstanding challenges during a cost-of-living crisis that is affecting many others. Categories such as pet and travel insurance which are among the dominating categories have also shown robust market performance. Intriguingly, the crisis has, in some cases, highlighted the importance of insurance, particularly in travel.

However, this resilience doesn’t grant insurers freedom for complacency. Whilst these economic pressures haven’t drastically affected the industry’s valuation, they have certainly reshaped consumer behaviour and expectations. It appears that policy scrutiny is on the rise, leading to several pivotal consumer trends and innovations that are likely to define the industry’s future, here’s a few which stood out.

  1. Consumer shopping habits: As consumers tighten their budgets, affordability becomes a top priority when shopping for insurance. Many UK consumers are turning to price comparison websites including new entrants to the market such as Amazon Insurance Store, yet surprisingly, a large number are showing loyalty and sticking with their current providers.
  2. Improving policy management using tech: Most UK consumers prefer limited interactions with their insurers, creating an opportunity for companies to enhance loyalty through regular, positive engagement via provider apps. Examples like the Vitality Health Insurance app showcase how in-app rewards can improve customer experience and encourage policy renewal.
  3. Recognising the rising importance of sustainability: Consumer awareness of environmental issues is on the rise, driving interest in sustainable and ethical insurance options. While currently niche, these offerings are likely to become more prominent as sustainability efforts increase.
  4. New innovators entering the scene: Recently launched Insurtech “Blip” seeks to disrupt the UK insurance market with its profit-sharing model. The brand aims to provide affordable and comprehensive business insurance for small enterprises. Its unique approach focuses on returning up to 10% of total policy premiums to policyholders, fostering a sense of community and transparency. Gary Ross, the firm’s founder and chief executive, emphasises the importance of restoring trust between companies and insurers, particularly for smaller independent businesses facing financial risks. It’s apparent that in a time of need with SME’s grappling with the cost-of-living crisis, it’s essential to rebuild trust between companies and insurers.

What’s happening on the social scene? A month of social media insights

In March we invited a diverse mix of media owners from the social media realm to our offices to update us on the social landscape. We soaked up key insights on the opportunities currently available to clients and brands and the trends that are capturing people at the moment. We heard loud and clear that social just keeps on growing, remaining the popular marketing choice for so many brands and companies.

Lisa Batty from TikTok highlighted its transformation from a platform for self-expression during lockdown to a fully-fledged creative hub and search engine by 2023. TikTok’s algorithm tailors content to users, diversifying its influence across topics from fashion to finance. With an audience-first approach, TikTok’s skippable ads reap high engagement rates, with 61% of brands seen for the first time on the platform prompting action from 92% of users. WeAre8 reminded us of its unique planet positive offering, presenting a platform free from hate and supporting positive change through incentivised, opt-in ads fostering community, engagement and happiness. It has recently partnered with the BBC on a distribution deal for BBC Earth content; the first of its kind between the platform and a broadcaster. The partnership paves the way for new commercial opportunities by bringing together social media with the premium digital inventory of BBC Studios. Meanwhile, Fifty and Meta both paid attention to how AI can be leveraged in order to craft efficiency, gain actionable audience insights and sustainable media strategies which are aligned with client objectives.  With AI revolutionising the advertising and marketing space, brands are embracing personalised experiences and redefining targeting methods to stay ahead in the digital landscape.

 

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Marketing Insight: Snickers position as the world’s best selling chocolate bar was under threat

From 2007 to 2009, Snickers was experiencing a sales growth decline and losing market share. It was lagging behind its competitors, threatening its position as the world’s best-selling chocolate bar.

The brand identified that the chocolate bar market was incredibly saturated and that the product was generally a snack purchased on impulse. Snickers’ brand awareness was high but, to stand out in a cluttered market, it needed to create brand fame to stay front of mind when people were reaching for a snack.

Mindful of this task, Snickers’ brand strategy centred around a new creative that would intrinsically link the chocolate bar with the moment that people hungrily seek out a snack. This was the birth of the now famous ‘You’re not you when you’re hungry’ tagline.

Media Innovation: standing out in a saturated market

There were four key actions within a new brand strategy that contributed to the overall success of Snickers’ ‘You’re not you when you’re hungry’ campaign.

  1. The campaign launched with a memorable creative, using a combination of humour and celebrities to convey the core message that people aren’t themselves when they’re hungry and a Snickers bar is the solution to get people back to their usual selves.
  2. The appearance of well-known faces within the creative, as well as endorsements via innovative social media posts, was tailored to the brand’s global audience. Snickers used local celebrities in each market to illustrate the ‘You’re not you when you’re hungry’ messaging.
  3. Snickers expanded from its traditionally young and male target audience to a larger, more diverse audience, with the intention of making the brand relatable to everyone that likes chocolate.
  4. To reach this new broader audience, the brand also updated its marketing mix to include TV, radio, print, OOH, cinema and social media.

Snickers launched the campaign in the US on the perfect stage to create fame: the 2010 Super Bowl. The ad starred Betty White starring as a struggling American Football star who gets tackled until she eats a Snickers and American Football star Bert Belasco returns to his normal self.

Accelerating Growth: global success

The ad was an immediate success, leading to 400 million incremental and unpaid media impressions with a media value equal to $28.6m – 11.4 times the initial investment. In the year after the campaign launched, global sales increased by 15.9% and market share grew in 56 of the 58 markets in which it ran.

Over the last decade the campaign has been awarded 47 Lions, spanning 14 categories and six countries, as well as every major effectiveness award, including two Effectiveness Lions, an IPA gold and global and local Effies and AME Awards. Almost 15 years on and ‘You’re not you when you’re hungry’ remains one of the most recognisable brand slogans.

For well established brands that have already achieved a certain level awareness, it is important to understand what the right objective is to achieve their business goals. In increasingly saturated markets, Snickers’ makes the case for the importance of brand fame in driving sales.