Stephanie Lee, Account Manager

For this month’s ‘A day in the life’ we were joined by Account Manager Steph, who chatted to us about facing her public speaking fears, lessons to be reminded of and her dream canned wine client.

Stephanie Lee, Account Manager

 What led you to a career in media?

Before embarking on my media career at MI, I was working in retail at Majestic Wine. It was bittersweet to leave as I loved the company and everything that the brand stood for. Majestic really sparked my love for wine, and I really enjoyed getting into the nuances of it all but in the words of Dolly Parton, I was ready to be ‘working 9 to 5’, as unfortunately retail goes hand-in-hand with shift work. I was eager to move away from these working patterns and media had always been an interest of mine that I was keen to explore a career in.


What is your proudest moment at MI?

This would have to be when I completed my first ‘smash up’, which consist of presenting a client’s post campaign results and analysis to them. Our client Médecins San Frontières (MSF) host these in person (in front of 50 people might I add!!) and for someone who doesn’t enjoy being the centre of attention or particularly thrive off public speaking, this may seem like a recipe for disaster. However, after battling some nerves, I got through it. Now a small part of me can say that I did enjoy presenting to the room on the spring malnutrition campaign.


What advice would you give to someone looking to go into the world of media?

Simply go for it! It’s a highly entertaining industry from the actual day-to-day work to the people you work with, whether it be within your agency or the clients themselves. And of course, the social aspect is a lot of fun too.

I do think that before embarking on a career within the media landscape, get swotting and really research and scope out what area you would like to work in. It’s a hugely wide-ranging industry, so get to know it as best as you can. This can determine whether you want to focus on creative, planning, buying, the list goes on and on!


What mistakes have you learnt from the most?

Whilst it isn’t exactly a mistake, one lesson that I continue to remind myself of is that less is definitely more! I aim to apply this approach when creating and delivering presentations, whether it be client reviews or new business pitches. I am lucky to work with a great bunch, and we know our stuff, so it’s key that we trust ourselves.  We don’t need thousands of words and slide after slide to show that we are knowledgeable, we can let our mouths do the talking. Being at the heart of what we do for clients day-to-day, means we can, and we sure do, know how to talk about our areas of expertise and what’s happening in the industry.


Do you have a dream client?

**without an ounce of hesitation**

Well now you know my love for wine, I guess this won’t come as a surprise. My dream client is definitely The Uncommon. Its creative branding is excellent, its ESG approach is spot on and ITS WINE! For those that are unaware, The Uncommon is a UK canned winery, and  in fact it was the first UK winemaker to achieve this accreditation. The brand, which is hugely distinguishable, has over the years branched out across various Hub spots in both M&S and Waitrose. It is currently getting out and about with various pop ups and stocking in a few extra select supermarkets. Whilst it does a lot of social activity, I do think it’s the right kind of brand to excel at OOH. It would do well by simply advertising on 6 sheets, but where its branding would really shine would be through more experiential OOH. It could spice things up a bit and create an immersive wine sampling pop up with a blind tasting or something to win a coupon, who doesn’t love discounted wine?! This would really create a buzz around both the product and brand.

This month we reflect on June trends which looks at the shifts in the roles of marketing decision makers within brands and what that means for future strategy, how the retail sector is in its “in-store era” and the welcome changes introduced to improve collaborative measurement of carbon emissions in the industry. 

Repositioning of roles: CMO to CBO 

It was recently reported that Compare the Market has restructured its business by separating its customer data operations from brand marketing. The company has eliminated the role of chief marketing officer (CMO) and introduced the position of chief brand officer (CBO). The role will be accompanied by a newly appointed chief customer officer (CCO). The transformation of CMO roles into CBO roles reflects broader changes in how companies look to approach marketing, brand management and customer engagement in the future. This shift aligns with industry trends, where we have seen companies such as Starbucks, UPS, Lyft and Uber also redefine their marketing leadership structures to focus more on customer data and technology integration. 

For Compare the Market, its competitive advantage lies in its strong brand and extensive customer data. The new structure plays to this, allowing the CBO to focus on long-term brand value and the CCO to align customer and data strategies. I think we could all easily recall Compare the Market’s brand platform from its clever and memorable “compare the meerkat” adverts over the years. Its distinctive brand recognition demonstrates simplicity and the humour used makes light of a typically dry sector. This strategy has included collaborations with celebrities and major brands to keep the brand engaging and relevant. 

Given some of the big advertisers have already started to restructure marketing roles in this way, it’s likely the trend will continue. The shift from CMO to CBO roles reflects the evolving landscape of marketing, where long-term brand value, data specialisation, technological integration and a customer-centric approach are increasingly prioritised. By redefining these roles, companies aim to build stronger, more resilient brands that can adapt to changing market conditions and consumer behaviours. 

In the “in-store” retail era: harnessing real-time data to improve results

As picked up in various articles last month that honed in on retail, retail media’s effectiveness heavily depends on measuring campaign outcomes through strategic media planning. From our own experience of working with retail brands and measuring effectiveness through digital marketing, we appreciate the importance of getting measurement right to allow for the best growth and results. Measurement applies across the board, multi-channel, across every inch of a campaign. We know through our own measurement and the vast number of other examples out there, that off-site (i.e digital) retail advertising is highly effective. So where can we expand? Well as discussed recently, it’s the era of the “in-store” retail experience. In-store advertising is producing results and coupled with technology and the data that can be extracted from customer behaviour, it’s important to be considered for retail clients.

In-store advertising
Let’s consider firstly the in-store ad experience and how that can be most effective. To tap into this market, enhancing the in-store experience with unique and memorable moments is key. Digital signage plays a big role, especially with retail media ad spending expected to exceed $106 billion by 2027. We’ve seen major players like Amazon entering the in-store DOOH space and innovative brands like H&M using holograms to surprise and engage shoppers. With over 90% of customers unhappy with current in-store experiences, retail media has a big opportunity to improve this. By using familiar technologies, retailers can provide engaging and personalised content at the point of purchase. Another option as by Paul Brenner, SVP for retail media and partnerships at Vibenomics was in-store audio advertising as a solution. It improves the shopping experience with curated music, relevant promotions and contextual brand messages. I’m sure we have all been partial to hearing ads in stores and it’s not something new, but it is proven to be effective and targeted.

Harnessing in-store data to improve advertising
We know the retail sector is going through a digital transformation, with additions such as an increase in , conversion tracking and using transactional data for precise advertising down to an SKU level. Even how brands buy media is likely to change, with new programmatic capabilities to buy ad space on retailers’ digital screens in-store. The ability to access real-time data is extremely beneficial, however the in-store data adds an interesting layer to this.

Adding to this, we couldn’t forget to mention AI. The excitement around how AI can improve in-store sensors for better audience insights was discussed. This technology helps retailers optimise product placement, test packaging and displays with instant feedback. From an advertising angle, customers could get personalised ads on digital screens, via audio or by mobile apps for nearby products, tailored to their preferences and past purchases. It’s targeting at its best by utilising real-time data. This seamless, data-driven experience is the future of retail media.

A big step in the right direction – common currency for measuring carbon in media

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. As an outcome of the 12-month GARM-led global engagement effort to build common measurement tools and processes, Ad Net Zero has now introduced a Global Media Sustainability Framework to standardise the measurement of carbon emissions across various media channels, including digital, TV and print. This recent news is very much welcomed by us as an agency. It’s a great step and one we’ve all been pushing for to improve consistency and collaboration between advertisers, media owners and agencies in the effort to reduce carbon on media plans.

Supported by major advertisers and media companies, the framework aims to provide consistent methods for tracking and reducing media-related greenhouse gas emissions.

The initial formula covers TV, digital and OOH media, with other media types to follow. This initiative encourages industry-wide adoption to help advertisers and their partners minimise their carbon footprint effectively. It’s what we love to see and hope to get on board within the future.

It goes without saying, football fans are nothing short of passionate. With engaged fans, comes a connection to not only their team, but the shirt on players’ backs. Shirt sponsorships were introduced in the late 70’s and ever since, the relationship between the shirt and sponsor have gone from strength to strength. For brands wishing to amplify their brand awareness, utilising the power of football shirt advertising enables them to expand into global markets. In this campaign, we explore how sometimes marketing investment isn’t as costly you as you think if you come up with a smart concept with vast and effective reach.  

Marketing Insight: kicking off the partnership

As League Two football club, Stevenage’s, home fixtures saw on average 3,000 fans take to the stands, the club wanted to develop an idea that would not only generate additional revenue but also increase reputation for the lower league club.

The start of 2019/2020 football season saw the beginning of a two-year partnership between Stevenage and the fast-food giant Burger King. FIFA,  (now called EAFC) is also known for its realistic video game simulation with millions of people playing globally having the ability to choose their leagues and team. The shirt sponsors are visible throughout the video game and, with a main target audience of young males ages 12-30, this opportunity perfectly aligned with Burger King’s target audience.


Media Innovation: bringing the partnership to life and overcoming booing fans

The partnership was brought to life with the first campaign ‘The Stevenage Challenge’. Everyone loves a freebie, so for the campaign Burger King and Stevenage encouraged FIFA players to share footage of goals scored, repping the Stevenage home or away kits to win Burger King rewards. The two-week competition resulted in 25,000 goals hitting the back of the net being shared across social media!

Despite some initial backlash when the partnership was announced and home kits were revealed, Stevenage was the most frequently used team within the game for the campaign period. FIFA streamers and influencers also got involved on Twitch and YouTube, both playing as Stevenage in-game, but also wearing the home kit live on stream. Alongside this, high profile TV presenters such as Gary Lineker praised the campaign, leading to further exposure.

It’s believed that Burger King paid around £50,000 for the shirt sponsorship for the season, which is a fraction of the price you’d likely have to pay for a campaign that has reached so many individuals within their target audience on a global scale. Stevenage’s Chief Executive Alex Tunbridge told BBC News, “It’s PR that you couldn’t buy as a League Two Club, unless you reach the third or fourth round of the FA Cup.”


Accelerating Growth: building on campaign success to achieve brand goals

The campaign led to a huge increase in website impressions (1.2 billion) which generated value for both brands. Due to the success of the initial campaign, Burger King and Stevenage launched further campaigns, one being the Burger Queen with the Stevenage Women’s team to help promote and build awareness for the Women’s game.

The incredible success of the campaign was recognised in the industry, winning the Grand Prix in both the Direct and Social & Influencer categories at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

This campaign goes to show that for a low-level budget, you can really place your brand in front of the right eyes, whilst receiving huge engagement from your target audience. It shows the value a successful partnership can create for the partnered brands. For Stevenage, despite being a lower league club it was able to affordably increase shirt sales which generated revenue and exposure. And for Burger King, it delivered huge numbers of impressions for a fraction of the normal cost. Great success for all!

MI Media was brought to life in 2008 and from the get-go, our independent media agency has accelerated growth for challenger brands through media strategy, planning and buying. We value the importance of relationships with substance and due to our independent nature, we are able to fully focus on clients’ interests and objectives. When business challenges arise, we are here to build the most effective strategy and put media to work, which is exactly what we did for our shortlisted client, JML.

A core pillar of growth for MI Media this year, has been our data offering and the end of 2023 saw our very own data product, MIDAS come to life. Whilst our data centric approach is beneficial to client campaigns, it is only as strong as the team analysing it and we were thrilled that last year we could bring both elements of this together for the challenge at hand.

In 2023, our client JML had seen a downturn in its sales, revenue and profit due to the disruption in the retail landscape and it needed to focus harder on its digital sales channels. Our primary objective was to optimise JML’s digital accounts across PPC, Shopping and Amazon to capitalise on a crucial sales period and ultimately turn around what had been a challenging year. By the end of the campaign, we had managed to fully transform the client’s account and the results speak for themselves.

Our team got under the skin of JML’s business objectives and went over and above to execute on this. To make it to the podium would really be the cherry on top for our small but mighty digital team.

Client satisfaction is what we strive for, which shines through in our response from JML’s Group Marketing Director: MI supported us through a critical digital transformation period where sales growth was central to business stability during turbulent market conditions. The MI team’s strategic management has revolutionised how we run our digital sales channels; it’s been hugely impactful work. They’ve provided deep knowledge of the digital space in PPC and granular-level data management across our entire product portfolio and digital estates, to give us comprehensive SKU-level profitability visibility, which has given us complete confidence in their work and provided impressive results. MI Media’s incredible passion for its high-quality work and its approachable personability with its clients is what make MI so remarkable and unique for an independent agency of its size. We’ve loved working with them from day one”.

Whilst it is hugely rewarding to receive positive feedback from clients, it is also important to us as an agency that our teams are passionate about the work that they do. The team working on JML are thrilled that their hard work has been recognised.

George Hobday, Head of Digital & Data at MI Media comments “We are consistently striving to work hand-in-hand with our clients to scale their business and being shortlisted for the PPC Campaign of the Year (B2C) Award for this year’s UK Digital Growth Awards 2024 is a true reflection of our team’s hard work, dedication and commitment to achieving and exceeding our clients’ goals and objectives.”


Jamie Gibbins, an Account Manager here at MI comments “MI’s approach to campaign planning and strategy allows so much opportunity for success. We work alongside the business and not for them which makes data collaboration so easy. We are able to take real insights from the clients back end and apply this to our campaigns to deliver whichever KPI is necessary for the account.”

Our Account Director on the account, Jamie Walsh, highlights what it means to be shortlisted to this award “Being at MI for 5 years, it is clear that when working across biddable campaigns, we are always focused on driving the best performance for clients. It is always a great feeling when we see campaigns perform well and the direct impact of our optimisations on client business. I feel that these campaigns often go unrecognised, so it means the world to be shortlisted for the award. Getting recognition for our achievements really means a great deal to the team.”

This article was originally posted by the UK Digital Growth Awards

George Hobday, Head of Digital & Data

For this months A day in the life we sat down with our Head of Digital & Data, George Hobday who gave us insight into his passion for all things data, how our dashboard MIDAS was established and dream brands within the subscription space.

George Hobday, Head of Digital & Data

What led you to a career in media?

Well, as I am not one to beat around the bush, ultimately, I needed a job. But, if we were to rewind back to pre-University days, I was in fact introduced to the industry through an internship with MediaCom which focused heavily on PPC. On reflection, my degree was a tell-tale sign that I was drawn to the world of data. Whilst studying Archaeology and Ancient History, I spent a lot of time using physical data to back up theoretical hypotheses, combining an art form with a science. Like many following their degree, I was unsure exactly what I wanted to do after university. But I had a niggle to continue my development within the media space as I not only knew that I understood the various aspects of the role, but I also enjoyed it which is often half the battle.

What really led me to having a long-standing career in media is my passion for digital media and the results of my work. I get a huge buzz out of knowing my work has not only led to evident positive results, but that it also has had a meaningful impact on the businesses that I have worked for. I find that to be incredibly rewarding.


What is your proudest / most memorable moment at MI?

Wow, 13 years at MI, let me have a think. I suppose one thing that stands out for me is a challenge that I faced and overcame for a client. The client was wanting to integrate both its large management tool and its CRM system. Whilst its internal team had been struggling to create this, I managed to solve the issue. This meant that as an agency we could have full visibility on both our actions on the account and the impact of our work on the client’s internal system. In this case, the account grew and so did the client’s business. Problem solving is something that I thrive from, and I guess it was from this momentous task that saw the creation of my pride and joy…MIDAS.

MIDAS is simply our live reporting dashboard that enables us to monitor delivery versus growth metrics. The dashboard provides more than just reporting, MIDAS’ advanced analysis using machine learning provides insights to guide media budget optimisation. Whilst we feel that MIDAS is the ultimate reporting suite (we may be slightly biased) our data and analytics capabilities go much further. Our data team can align with web developers, CRM teams and other media agencies to enrich clients’ internal data and connect media buying to business outcomes. This is hugely beneficial for reporting purposes as the more information on customer conversion pathways and media touchpoints that we can connect with a client’s CRM, the more insights we can gather to inform future campaigns.


What advice would you give to someone looking to go into the world of digital and data led marketing?

Simply, keep learning. You are never going to know everything that you need to know, so don’t stress or worry about not knowing it all to begin with. Remember to learn from every branch and remember that both soft and technical skills are just as important as each other. Oh, and keep asking questions.


What mistakes have you learnt from the most?

I have learnt from each and every one of my mistakes, and I try not to repeat the same one twice. The best thing about making mistakes is that you can gain multiple learnings from them. I have come to realise that the mistakes you learn the most from, are often the mistakes that are the hardest to fix. Nitty gritty mistakes are sometimes easier to overcome. Actually, it is the ‘people based’ mistakes that provide the best learnings. Whether it’s misreading a client’s wants and needs, or making mistakes with the people you work alongside. In my managerial roles over the years, I have learnt that not all outcomes and approaches suit everyone, as a manager it is vital to find out the various ways that keep the different people on your team on track and engaged.


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

A client like Gousto or Mindful Chef would be great to work with. Their business models really appeal to my data scene. The success of their models will be driven by the more insightful data based on the food products suited to consumers. What is also very attractive about these brands is that they can appear in almost all channels. Their chance for growth is only really limited by their ambition.

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.

Following a three-way competitive pitch, MI Media will assume responsibility for building brand awareness for the Association for Project Management (APM) while implementing tactical acquisition and retention campaigns across paid search, paid social and programmatic display. 

As the chartered membership organisation for the project profession, APM seeks to ensure that all project professionals have the tools, resources and networks that they need to deliver positive change. In an ever-changing world, project management has never been more important. The profession needs to be more broadly understood, its value made clearer and the best standards of practice must be set. APM’s Golden Thread Research 2024 states that the project profession employs an estimated an estimated 2.32 million full-time equivalent workers (FTEs) across the UK. APM wants to reach these new audiences and support them through its product offering.    

We have been selected to support the organisation in segmenting and targeting its various industry sector audiences to deliver income from qualification & standards and membership & partnership subscriptions, while driving bookings across its flagship events. 

Sophie Tallyn, Head of Marketing, Association for Project Management said, “We’re thrilled to be partnering with MI Media to advance our strategic marketing efforts. Their expertise in targeted advertising and data-driven campaigns is perfectly aligned with our need to enhance visibility and engagement among our diverse professional community. This partnership marks a pivotal step to not only grow our membership base but also strengthen our positioning as the leading voice for the project profession.” 

George Hobday, Head of Digital & Data said, “The challenge set by APM represents clients’ growing interest in using their data to understand the nuances of their different audiences in order to target them more effectively and ultimately, drive business growth.” 

Earlier this week we attended Internet Retailing’s SubscriptionX conference to hear from established and emerging brands in the sector.

The subscription sector is in high demand, with 81% of the UK owning a subscription. Digital content leads the sector at 40%, but physical products such as pet food, alcohol and beauty (which currently sit at 6% of the market) are growing. According to Emily Bullman, Consumer VC Investor at JamJar, who spoke at the event, the demand for this emerging sector is coming from, “products that are used every day such as pet food & deodorant and subscriptions that offer consumers an emotional connection where they feel some level of exclusivity from being associated.”

With this increasing demand in mind, here are our three key takeaways from the event that emerging subscription brands should consider:

1. Your subscribers are your biggest champions

Opening up the conference, Wild co-founder, Charlie Bowes-Lyon, said that the biggest thing the brand has benefitted from is its 1,000+ wide online community, using Typeform to gather instant data from its most engaged customers across CRM and socials. “We have customers that are obsessed with the brand. There’s a feeling of loyalty, of being part of the brand. All the products we’ve launched in the past year have been chosen by our customers.”

Bowes-Lyon admitted that there’s always going to be some existing customer bias that you have to take into account. But customers who subscribe, “tend to follow the brand more closely and get involved with our products,” meaning that Wild can gather thousands of engaged responders to inform business decisions.

A later panel moderated by Internet Retailing underlined the need to capture customer data and monetise loyalty and membership. It’s not only about launching new products but understanding how your products satisfy a consumer need. Subscription brands must provide value to their customers if they want them to continue wanting their product to land on their doorstep.

This approach pays off as Wild shared, “when you compare subscription customers to non-subscribers, the lifetime value is 50% higher in under a year. In two, three, four years, it really starts to grow.”

2. You should place just as much importance on retention as acquisition

Wild’s Bowes-Lyon talked about how Wild acquires subscribers using a range of tactics that include lowering prices and offering rewards & freebies. He acknowledged that, “there’s always going to be a group of people that will ‘game’ your subscription. You have to analyse that and adjust your offer.” However, he believes that subscription offerings must be flexible. Brands should aim for their customers to have a good experience and, if they do, there’s nothing to say they won’t move into a subscription later.

When speaking to Chargebee’s Guy Marion later in the day, Marcus Cohen, Head of Commercial at Butternut Box noted how the brand has, “transitioned from growth at all costs to being a sustainably growing business.” For Cohen, he believes that a, “solid retention curve is the only way you can be a sustainable business.”

Understanding retention, why customers are pausing and why they are cancelling is key. Once you’ve gained long-term customers that value your products, Cohen believes a combination of personalisation and a demonstration of your expertise is what puts D2C subscriptions ahead. One of the biggest customer successes that Butternut Box has seen comes from a surprise and delight campaign which sees the brand send a bouquet of flowers to customers when their dog passes away.  According to Cohen, “it’s a moment of real connection that resonates with the customer the most. People constantly come back and say the brand has gone above and beyond.”

3. Partnerships can fulfil different requirements

Finally, a panel combining speakers from Mindful Chef, Craft Gin Club and Peloton discussed the merits of partnerships for subscription businesses. Each speaker noted that they had different types of partnerships to fulfil different needs.

Mindful Chef’s CMO, Vineeta Anuj, explained that when the brand launched, it didn’t have budgets for above-the-line media so it began looking into three types of partnerships. The first is brand awareness which brings in about 5-7% if Mindful Chef’s customer mix, with Vitality currently making the most impact for the brand. Next, the brand looks for retention partners that can provide added value products. Anuj conducted tests to see if surprise & delight gifts were going to waste and to analyse the impact of a premium vs average gift on retention. She found that they improved both retention and overall customer spend. Finally, Mindful Chef turns to menu collaborations to keep excitement and variety alive in its offering. These partners are a great driver for increased customer spend, retention and bringing customers back. In fact, Mindful Chef wins back 20% of lapsed customers when it has recipe partners.

Craft Gin Club also turns to partnerships to fulfil a variety of needs, though it takes a different approach, as Tom Hurst, Head of Acquisition explained, “historically we were reliant on paid social but off the back of the pandemic, it became a rocky road to manage base size. Partnerships allow us to tap into other closed groups at a lower risk.” The three types of partner Craft Gin Club looks for are:

  • Commercial: The vast majority of subscribers are to the brand’s Gin of the Month box which comes with products that complement the gins. Partners allow the brand to add surprise and delight gifts into the box
  • Acquisition: partnerships with brands such as Mindful Chef or Gousto provide Craft Gin Club with the opportunity to tap into their audiences to run offers and acquire new customers
  • Card link offers: similarly, partnerships with the likes of AMEX and Santander broaden the brand’s reach into new audiences

When looking to build your own mix of partners, the panellists agreed that it’s important to be clear on the role that partnerships play. Peloton’s ex- Business Development Director, Richard Sale, admitted that they, “first thought that direct media is targeting a direct audience, so we looked at targeting different sets of customers with partnership. However, we found that this often didn’t work. Instead, partnerships became more about targeting the same customers but in a different way.”

Challenging assumptions was a point echoed by Hurst who explained that they had initially thought that their offering would fit an audience of 30+ women. However, they undertook a lot of work to profile their customer base from DM and door drop campaigns to understand behaviours and buying habits. They instead found that they had a much older audience. The brand is now running successful partnership activity with the likes of the RHS and the Caravan Club.

Anuj agreed with this approach, saying, “you should keep your gut feel, but back it up with data and science and get better metrics in place to understand success.”

 “Dream Big”

Timo Boldt, Founder of Gousto shared his inspirational journey and summed up the challenges the subscription sector faces when he said, “scaling a subscription business is ridiculously hard… Gousto has been a twelve-year overnight success.” However, across the board you could see the passion and excitement every speaker had for their brand and, with customer demand on the rise, we’re certain that the subscription sector is one to watch for accelerated growth over the next year!

In the ever-evolving world of media strategy, staying ahead of the curve is vital. Immersing ourselves in discussions held by industry leaders can provide us as with valuable insights across crucial topics spanning AV planning, measurement, ESG and targeting diverse audiences.

Recently, our Managing Director, Richard Slater, attended AdWanted’s Future of Brands conference, here he shares the key insights that resonated most.

Media strategy agony aunts: Ask me anything!

Whilst questions and concerns were raised regarding the AV landscape, the panel offered some great insights into new opportunities in this space. Panellists discussed new opportunities that the changing landscape offers; from introducing attention metrics as standard practice, to the importance of using the correct formats to boost attention. For example, opting for reels over feeds and adapting creative to the platform it’s going to be delivered on, can enable brands to get the most out of what channels such as Instagram and TikTok have to offer.

For larger brands that regularly invest in AV, there were also great pointers around how CTV can be used strategically for its targeting potential. For example, whilst running national linear campaigns, we can look at where the campaigns will under & over index against target audiences regionally and effectively use CTV to fill in the gaps for areas of light coverage.

Key takeout: the AV landscape is increasingly complex but if you approach it with an open and questioning mindset you will probably find relevant solutions that add genuine value.


Breaking down silos and harnessing the potential of a data-rich TV landscape

Samsung presented data showcasing its ability to provide robust insights into TV audiences; highlighting what they are watching, the linear ads they are consuming and how they are using the different streaming apps. Despite some skew towards younger demographics, its data on app usage sheds light on the dominance of new VOD platforms over BVOD (BVOD 9% share vs. AVOD 40% and SVOD 51%), although the inclusion of YouTube does the muddy the water here.

Challenges in unified planning and measurement across AV platforms were discussed, indicating the need for greater collaboration and standardisation within the industry. It was clear the ISBA origin project is making progress but still has some way to go here! This session also touched upon the issues we face with CTV planning, highlighting that despite some AV departments taking on limited planning involvement, there is generally very little unified planning within agencies. Instead, 80% of CTV is managed through programmatic teams that are taking a planning approach based on audience only, with little consideration to content and incremental reach. Equally AV planners need to consider the targeting potential of CTV rather than only CTV as a function of incremental reach.

Key takeout: there is still a long way to go to get to standardised measurement across the full AV landscape and there are shortcomings in how agencies are currently approaching CTV in their planning process. Agencies should be getting cross-departmental insight to plan AV effectively – something we champion at MI!


How Brands can make an impact for charities (and how charities can find the right partners!)

Partnerships are often hugely important to charities. When aims and values align, they can prove hugely successful. Simon Gunning from Calm spoke about the crucial elements of a charity’s corporate partnership, referencing its partnership with Money Supermarket. Gunning outlined how, to make a partnership successful, a good fit is an important starting point and that charities need to find partners that don’t shy away from confronting the difficult subjects that they want to address. In Calm’s case, there was a huge amount of research to show why the Cost-of-Living Crisis and related money worries were a major issue in relation to suicide, making Money Supermarket the right choice for a partner.

Beyond this, clear objectives are key. In Calm’s case, it wanted to assist people in overcoming the feeling of entrapment that are often provoked by money issues. Finding a partner who provides dedicated effort, adds genuine value and supportive offerings (in this case contributing useful guides and advice) enabled the partnership to flourish.

Partnerships can allow a brand to borrow the reach of its partner to project issues on the agenda to broader or specific audiences. Whilst the monetary benefits that a corporate organisation can offer charity brands is hugely beneficial, it was clear that finding the right fit was the key ingredient for the full partnership value to be realised.

Key takeout: Charities can see major gains through finding the right brand partners. However, they have to be confident that they have a partner who understands and is genuinely committed to the cause, as well as being able to bring genuine added value to help achieve core goals.


There was plenty of great food for thought beyond these sessions, whether it was more progressive ways to measure the impact of campaigns or the increasing benefits of premium digital placements in age of growing click bait and misinformation. There was also some compelling evidence on the potential gains from brands acting more responsibly; both in terms of running more efficient digital and considering the value of more diverse audiences.

These sessions provided valuable insights into the current challenges and opportunities in both media and brand strategy, paving the way for innovative approaches and collaborative solutions within the industry.