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Latest news from The Drum

Cater to your audience & listen to feedback - The Slow Mo Guys tips for YouTube success
Posted on Tuesday June 30, 2015

With over 5 million YouTube subscribers The Slow Mo Guys – Gavin Free and Dan Gruchy – know a thing or two about building an audience.

Speaking to The Drum at this year’s Cannes Lions, Free and Gruchy explained that their channel wasn’t an instant hit.

“It was quite a slow process” said Free, “then we had a viral hit, our giant water balloon video, and that got 2 million views in a day. Immediately all our other videos went up and we got loads of new subscribers.”

“Since then it’s [The Slow Mo Guys channel] become much more well-known and easier to get lots of views,” added Gruchy.

Like most YouTube creators Free and Gruchy rely on the platform’s analytics to make the videos they know the audience wants to see.

“We can see where they’re from and what age they are so we kind of cater towards that,” said Free. “We have a very young, male audience primarily so stuff blown up is always good.”

Despite living in two separate countries and holding down full time jobs The Slow Mo Guys feed their audience’s appetite for new videos by shooting “ten or so at a time” two or three times a year taking on board feedback from YouTube comments as well as suggestions The Slow Mo Guys Twitter feed which they use to boost views.

“It really helps to see people say ‘I really like this video and I’d like to see them do something like this…’. We’ll usually then sit together or chat on Xbox Live and work out what to do next,” said Gruchy.

“Twitter is better for interacting with the audience than YouTube,” added Free. “We take a lot of audience suggestions…basically if something looks good in real time it looks even better in slow mo.”

For all the news and views from this year's Cannes Lions Festival check out The Drum's Cannes 2015 Hub.

Eurosport €1.3bn deal to control Olympic coverage in Europe reboots IOC commercial model for the digital era
Posted on Tuesday June 30, 2015

Eurosport owner Discovery Communications’ €1.3bn agreement with Olympic chiefs promises to bring the Games to more European screens that ever before, paving the way for flexible broadcast models that would allow brands to piggyback on the digital buzz surrounding the tournaments.

The deal is the first time the International Olympic Committee has bundled its broadcast rights in a way that gives one distributor exclusive ownership of not just TV but also multi-platform. It spans six years, covering the 2018 Winter Games, the 2020 Olympic as well as the 2022 Winter Games and 2024 Summer Olympics, spotlighting both parties’ commitment to finding new ways to show the events.

On a conference call following yesterday’s (29 June) announcement, Discovery Communications stressed their multi-channel ambition and also the depth of their pan-European coverage. The statement of intent will likely excite marketers looking for more interactivity and engagement but more importantly the structure of the deal suggests Olympic bosses believe the media cake can be sliced and diced more than it is currently. Multi-platform means multi-sell and that can only mean more value.

Given its rights don’t kick in until 2018, Discovery Communications’ declined to share any detail on how it would distribute the content except that the Eurosport video player and site would be key. However it’s open to talking to both commercial and public broadcasters about how it can create what chief executive David Zaslav said are strategies to “reach as many of the 700 million people in Europe as possible on as many platforms so that they can get more engaged with the sports”.

He assured the motive is to get as much coverage of Olympic Games on free-to-air channels as there has been in the past, while also promising to make content available on other platforms. Despite the commitment, Discovery Communications made no secret of its aim to use the rights to reverberate the EuroSport brand throughout Europe. The focus on Eurosport could see broadcasters like the BBC left with a less than stellar lineup should they have to sub-license the rights from Discovery Communications. 

“Now we’re able to super serve viewers with seamless coverage of the same athletes through national championships, World Cup qualifiers and now culminating with the Olympic Games,” said Zaslav. “Our ability to develop and follow the same characters and athletes combined with access to the Olympic archives makes it possible for the first time to have a programming strategy that can burn the Olympic flame with stories and content 365 days a year.”

Coverage between the Games is a cornerstone of IOC president Thomas Bach's plan to deepen the organisation's commercial coffers as well as get the Olympic brand in front of younger audiences more often. On the same call, he said “agreements like [the one with Discovery Communications]” helped it to ensure that it could give $3.5m a day to athletes all over the world. Bach also hinted that the organisation could consider longer commercial deals in the past in order to get the security needed to build a more formidable commercial offering.

“On the other hand, longer term deals also give our partners better return on investment so that they can benefit from these deals over about four editions of the Olympic Games,” he added.

The agreement highlights an alternative way for Olympic chiefs to maximise revenues from the Games at a time when media consumption habits are becoming ever more fragmented. The pan-European package will suit the largest sponsors who treat their Olympics partnership as a multinational platform, while offering the economies of scales for rights holder, broadcaster and sponsor.

Steve Martin, chief executive at M&C Saatchi Sport and Entertainment, said the Olympic chiefs’ decision to break with tradition and unite the European broadcast rights was “astute”.

“This is probably the first step from the IOC to open up the broadcast rights to make it a more commercial proposition than it was before,” he continued. “The broadcast medium is to going to change so much over the next ten years that [the model] will give them more flexibility. One pan-European deal will allow them to build more consistency around the coverage but also make it more locally relevant. It’s the Olympic chiefs saying that they’re going to move with the times and help ensure the optimum way for the audience to watch the Games.”

Eurosport’s pan-European offering is strong but weaker in local markets. Zaslev hopes to leverage the reach of the Olympic brand to change this and grow the channel. The balance between terrestrial and pay-per-view coverage has not been nailed yet, according to industry experts but Discovery Communications could pioneer if it can come up with expansive distribution strategies baked in new media.

Any discussions Discovery Communications has with potential partners will be mindful of how quick media consumption habits are changing. Indeed, Peter Hutton, chief executive of Eurosport said as much when he was asked about the broadcaster’s plan to abide by the coverage limitations imposed by the Olympic charter and rules like the Listed events registration in the UK.

“Our commitment is to make the maximum amount of content available on all platforms” continued Hutton. How we do it and what goes free-to-air in markets is a one that’s literally just beginning today and we’re very open to working with existing partners and new partners as we look to maximise the exposure and value of the Games.

Kelly Williams, managing director of media business Sports Revolution, said Discovery Communications pan-European “definitely made sense” but warned more brand-friendly programming could spark the ire of Olympic sponsors that have paid millions to secure exclusive ownership of the brand.

She added: “The top tier Olympic sponsors won’t welcome any new opportunities for rival brands in the TV ad breaks. They are fiercely protective of their investment and would have viewed the ad-free zone of BBC coverage as a premium and pure media environment.

“They won’t like it, especially if they have to spend more in the ad breaks to protect their investment. However, it’s unlikely to reduce the overall value that IOC can command. They know that official partners can still build a formidable wall of brand value through a vast range of marketing activity, far transcending the opening of new TV spots in the broadcast coverage.”

Broadcasting revenues are set to top $4.5bn for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics and Rio Games – this is in comparison to the $3.85bn generated from the 2010 Vancouver and London 2012 cycle. 

Making content meaningful: Neuroscientist Beau Lotto on bridging the gap between digital and physical
Posted on Tuesday June 30, 2015

Neuroscientist Beau Lotto argues that digital content is meaningless, neither existing fully in the digital world or in the physical. By occupying the space between however, placed in the physical world and accessed through our digital windows, a new meaningful kind of engagement is possible.

Information is meaningless. This is literally true… even at the most basic level of our senses. In fact the light that your eyes detect is wholly inadequate for telling you what to do. This is because it doesn’t come with a set of instructions. This fact, that (sensory) information is wholly ambiguous, is the fundamental challenge that our brains evolved to solve. And simply looking at the world, much less at a 2D screen, is not how it solves it.

Instead, it evolved to engage with the world in a continual process of trial and error. The consequence of this is that what you see, and even conceive, is shaped by physically engaging with the world.

How the brain creates its perceptions of the world is a barrier to its ability to engage positively with digital ‘social platforms’. Why? Because the brain needs meaning – a meaning it creates, not by passively receiving ubiquitous ‘content’ through a relatively impersonal broadcasting system, but by interacting with those we care about in the world. This isn’t a suggestion or a philosophy. It’s what happens.

It’s not surprising, then, that many social platforms ironically decrease our social bonds with one another (or indeed with oneself), while simultaneously devaluing creative content shared.

Now, one could take the view that the digital world is therefore bad for us. And that would be a typically, conservative response… ie one that misses the deeper point that it’s best to work with human nature rather than against it.

How then can the digital become meaningful? By occupying what I call ‘the space between’. Increasingly digital content is living neither fully in the digital world nor fully in our physical one. Instead, by placing content in the physical world around us and by accessing that content by turning your phone (or wearables) into a window into that world, a wholly new kind of engagement becomes possible – one predicated on the gifting of experience.

This is meaningful because we know from research that giving increases our wellbeing. We also know that people pay more for experiences (and feel happier with their purchase) than if they spent the same amount of money on a physical object. This, I believe, provides a necessary context for thinking about social platforms in the future.

All of this is would simply be neuroscientific data and philosophical theory if it weren’t actually grounded in an example.

Traces is that example. Traces is a new immersive digital messaging platform that enables users and brands to gift experiences to others in the place and at the time that matters most – where and when you are now. By making the world part of the message, our scientific research has shown that Traces makes digital content meaningful in ways that haven’t been possible before.

Microsoft retreats from display ads, handing operations to AOL & AppNexus
Posted on Tuesday June 30, 2015

Microsoft is reportedly on the cusp of ordering a full retreat from its display ad business in a plan which would see such operations handed over to AOL and AppNexus, according to Bloomberg.

The reorganisation will affect as many as 1,200 jobs although many of these will be offered the chance to relocate, either within Microsoft itself or with AOL or AppNexus.

Microsoft is keen to divest itself of non-core interests as part of a business strategy devised by CEO Satya Nadella which will see it focus on personal computing, cloud platforms and business productivity.

This follows an earlier promise to deliver ‘magical things’ in 2016 around the impending launch of its much hyped Windows 10 software.

Microsoft hasn’t yet commented publicly on the speculation.

Will.i.am: 'It’s not about advertising – it’s about adding value to communities'
Posted on Tuesday June 30, 2015

Black Eyed Peas founder, singer and entrepreneur will.i.am joined a panel of media and ad industry leaders this week at Cannes Lions to discuss the future of the creative industries.

At the event, hosted by global communications group The&Partnership and The Wall Street Journal, will.i.am urged the advertising industry to think about advertising as “adding value to communities”, not “advertising or marketing”.

Talking about advertising that focuses on selling rather than adding value to communities, will.i.am said: “You know people don’t like it on YouTube. They skip it.”

Ensured by Google marketing executive Lorraine Twohill that 87 per cent of people do not skip ads on YouTube, he went on: “OK, well they’re not paying attention to it. They’re skipping it in their head.

“Regardless of what your metric says, we’re not paying attention to it. If you don’t add value to people’s lives, I don’t really give two shits about your advertising,” he said.

Johnny Hornby, founder of The&Partnership, who was moderating the panel, brought up the topic of content marketing, asking will.i.am what excited him most about content.

“The fact that everyone’s in the same pole position now,” said will.i.am. “Yeah, I make content, but I know some guy in a dorm-room or someone on an airplane or a bus has the ability to reach 1m airs in nine seconds.”

The star discussed why real creative success is measured by creating shareable content which penetrates culture.

“When it’s adopted is when it’s successful, because that’s when you know it’s penetrated. The views … the views could be fake views.

Lorraine Twohill, senior vice-president of global marketing for Google, agreed: “We’re all in the content business now,” illustrating how the media industry has evolved by saying, “content can be a Snapchat message, or it can be Game of Thrones. How we consume content now is completely different.”

WPP chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell agreed, referring to the days of ‘Mad Men’. “75 per cent of our business now is stuff that Don Draper would not recognise,” he said.

“There is a duopoly, with all due respect, of Google and Facebook,” Sorrell continued, “in terms of platforms.”

Will Lewis, chief executive of the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones, voiced concerns about how new media platforms and social networks are disrupting traditional journalism models, saying: “Do we run towards offers from companies like Apple and Facebook to put content in their walled gardens? Or do we pause and think together about what the most appropriate ways of dealing with these opportunities are?

“Professionally created news is of incredible importance in societies and has deep moral purpose. If you stop doing the stories brilliantly and it just is all about cats on skateboards then none of this will work.”

Will.i.am, however, enforced that Apple is here to stay, saying: “These guys changed the world. And it will never go back to the way it was. It just quickly alters.”

The star also warned his fellow panelists that competing against each other was not the path to success, saying: “Right now, who you think your competitor is – if you’re competing with the people you think your competitor is, you’re going to lose.”

Referring to the rate at which new technologies are emerging, he said: “You’ve got to compete with the invisible person coming round the corner.”

Facebook targets African internet users with new office
Posted on Tuesday June 30, 2015

Facebook is setting its sights on Africa for future growth with plans to open its first office on the continent.

Based in Johannesburg the new unit will play host to 25 employees initially and will be headed by marketing industry stalwart Nunu Ntshingila, with the aim of concentrating efforts on Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.

As part of this effort Facebook has been seeking to bring the internet to more Africans through its internet.org programme, by offering free connectivity to key websites such as Wikipedia and BBC News… as well as Facebook.

Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook vice president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, commented: "Mobile is not a trend; it’s the fastest development in communications we’ve ever seen. This couldn’t be more true in Africa – where so many people are mobile-only. Facebook is already a central part of people’s lives in Africa, and with more than a billion people in Africa, we want to do more to help people and businesses connect."

There are currently around 120m Africans signed up to Facebook but with a population of 1bn and rising growth opportunities are huge – a far cry from the developed world where the social media platform has reached near saturation.

Wimbledon ‘wags’ set to drive real-time shopping trends
Posted on Tuesday June 30, 2015

Wimbledon ‘wags’ and celebrity spectators are set to drive real-time shopping trends over the coming fortnight, according to a survey commissioned by eBay Advertising.

This found that searches for ‘crochet dress’ on the auction site spiked by 37 per cent after Kim Murray happened to wear one to the 2013 final to view her husband, a pattern repeated by Jelena Djokovic’s choice of attire when a corresponding 39 per cent jump in ‘striped dress’ searches was observed.

Other insights include a peak of 100 searches per hour for ‘Reiss’ coinciding with another public appearance by Kim Murray wearing one of the label’s dresses last year whilst searches for ‘black slip dress’ shot up by 59 per cent on the day Victoria Beckham turned up to the 2013 final.

Phuong Nguyen, director, eBay Advertising UK, said: “As the nation is gripped by events on court in SW19, nimble marketers have scope to tap into real time trends driven by the fashion choices on display in the stands. But speed alone is not enough; marketers need observed behavioural insights to target precisely.”

Traditional tennis brands such as Lacoste and Fred Perry look set to be the big winners from the event however, with searches for both brands peaking over the middle weekend of the tournament.

Kendall Jenner portrait becomes most-liked selfie ever posted on Instagram
Posted on Tuesday June 30, 2015

Photo-sharing app Instagram has notched up its most liked selfie ever after US model Kendall Jenner, half-sister of Kim Kardashian, racked up 2.6m likes in just one month courtesy of a red carpet mug shot.

The tally sees Jenner take the crown for having the most liked selfie on the platform from her own sibling, who previously held the title for a wedding day pic alongside new hubby Kanye West which could only amass 2.4m likes over the course of a year.

To pull off the feat Jenner posed lying on the floor in a lace dress with her flowing hair carefully arranged into heart shapes. Following news of her triumph Jenner took to Twitter to tweet: “Take that KimYe”.

Despite winning this particular Instagram battle Kardashian still rules the roost when it comes to total followers, with an army of 37.5m keeping tabs on the celebrity's postings.

Shazam targets ad growth with One Direction, Calvin Harris & other artist profiles
Posted on Tuesday June 30, 2015

Music recognition app Shazam is seeking to bolster its advertising business by introducing profiles for some of the biggest names in the industry; including One Direction, Calvin Harris and Coldplay.

New social functionality will automatically sign-up users to ‘follow’ Shazamed artists, enabling them to view what songs their idols are currently playing.

It is hoped that the feature will drive further page views and traffic to the app and in turn the amount of advertising revenue which the service can command.

Speaking to Business Insider Shazam’s executive chairman said: “For us as a company it’s beneficial because we’ll be able to increase the number of users, the number of page views, and therefore the amount of advertising inventory we can monetise.”

In recent years Shazam has branched out into advertising by enabling television viewers to search for audio played during commercials and is also experimenting with visual recognition systems for identifying products.

Both operations have proven to be tidy little money spinners with Shazam’s valuation hitting £649m.

NBC drops Donald Trump over his offensive immigration comments
Posted on Monday June 29, 2015

NBC has officially cut its ties with Donald Trump after the presidential hopeful insulted Mexican immigrants during his campaign speech earlier this month.

The broadcaster will no longer air the annual Miss USA and Miss Universe Pageants, which were part of a joint venture between NBC and Trump. He also will not return to host his long-running show, ‘Celebrity Apprentice.’

In a statement, the company said: “At NBC, respect and dignity for all people are cornerstones of our values. Due to the recent derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants, NBCUniversal is ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump.”

Last week, Spanish-language broadcaster Univision said it will no longer air the Miss USA pageant after Trump said of Mexican immigrants during his presidential candidacy speech, “They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists.”

Shortly afterwards, NBC began distancing itself from the real estate mogul by stating that his opinions do not represent those of NBC.