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Latest news from The Drum

M&S clothing revival proves short-lived as sales slip
Posted on Tuesday July 07, 2015

The sales lift M&S’ marketing seemed to give its clothing sales earlier this year appears to be short lived after sales of its non-food products slipped in its latest quarter.  

This saw general merchandise sales at the High Street retailer fall 0.4 per cent over the 13 weeks to 27 June, somewhat better than a consensus forecast for a 1 per cent decline.

Fears are now being expressed that a seeming turnaround in its clothing sales in the previous three months may turn out to be little more than a blip although the firm did increase its general merchandise gross margins of between 1.5 and 2 per cent.

A recent marketing blitz by M&S had been thought to have been making some success as the retailer went out all guns blazing to push an 'iconic' suede skirt, worn by the likes of Alexa Chung and Olivia Palermo during key Fashion Week events as well as upped its digital spend. Despite the setback, the retailer continues to back its marketing to reverse the dip with several initiatives currently underway including greater personalisation to boost online sales and more contextual promotions to mobile devices. 

John Ibbotson of the retail consultants, Retail Vision, said: "As hard as it is to stomach, the one-time colossus of British retailing is now an also ran, with the likes of Next, Primark and the internet operators ripping away its clothing market share.

"It’s make or break time for M&S. No amount of restructuring and transformation of IT and logistics will be enough if clothing sales don’t improve soon.”

M&S’s food business continues to perform well however, notching up its 23rd quarterly rise in like-for-like sales of 0.3 per cent.

A new Instagram challenge has thousands of teens posting dramatic videos of themselves 'looking ugly'
Posted on Tuesday July 07, 2015

Words by Madison Malone Kircher, Business Insider

The latest social media challenge has teens smearing their faces with makeup in the name of body-positivity — but the videos are actually just insulting.  

The hashtag #DontJudgeChallenge was trending on Instagram earlier Monday where there are over 85,000 thousand posts using the hashtag.

The challenge was also trending on Twitter under the misspelled hashtag #DontJudgeChallange, Mirror reported. 

To participate, teens are filming themselves looking "unattractive" and then revealing what they actually look like in real life. 

For the purposes of the challenge, being unattractive involves putting on glasses, messing up one's hair, and using makeup to create uni-brows, fake acne, and stained teeth. 

Many of the teens also sport smeared lipstick that looks more like an imitation of YouTube star 'Miranda Sings', rather than an actual attempt to combat the trolling and shaming that has become a hallmark of social-media.

Here's an example of a #DontJudgeChallenge video.  

Many of the videos feature popular music in the background and were created using video-editing app, which is where the challenge appears to have originated. We've reached out to for comment about the bizarre social-media movement but haven't heard back yet. 

Some Twitter users are calling out the obvious flaws in the challenge, noting that while it purportedly aims to stop body-shaming, #DontJudgeChallenge only continues to reinforce existing beauty stereotypes. 

The #DontJudgeChallenge is not the first time people have united over a social-media challenge. For example, the 2014 Ice Bucket Challenge connected people all over the world in the fight against ALS and more recently, the 'Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge' had thousands of people seriously bruising their faces in an attempt to look like the teenage celebrity.

Read the full article on Business Insider. Follow Business Insider on Twitter.

Virgin Holidays wants programmatic to bring CRM mentality to its advertising
Posted on Tuesday July 07, 2015

CRM and marketing automation aren’t natural bedfellows but Virgin Media thinks they should be and is plotting its first programmatic strategy in the hope it can use their combined benefits to reduce its reliance on search-driven traffic and online travel agencies.

But the travel agent can’t do this on its own and has appointed The Exchange Lab to help after a successful year working together. During this time, cost per acquisition (CPA) was 29.3 per cent below target and retargeting CPA was 30 per cent below target, which were enough to convince Virgin Holidays that it should scale the approach across the majority of its display advertising.

It has stopped short of pushing all its display programmatically because Tripadvisor has significant share of inventory in the travel industry and it only trades directly. However, it does expect to place media such as video and content programmatically as they become a more central part of its marketing. For now, the company will look at how it can expand automation for formats like immersive mastheads in order to make its rich-media buys more effective.

Like other advertisers moving into programmatic trading, viewability is top of mind for Virgin Holidays. So much so that its viewability target is 70 per cent minimum for all its bought impressions, which is more than the average within the travel sector as well as the industry standard.

Alex Adamson, marketing planning and efficiency manager at Virgin Holidays, said its programmatic buys would be weighted toward desktop for now. “Personally, I’m trying to find what we should be doing in mobile from a wider online marketing perspective including display,” he continued. “I need to answer that question before I start looking at how to buy [on mobile].”

It represents Virgin Holiday’s first step on the programmatic path and as such it is not sure how much of it will handle itself or brief out to experts. And yet it is exploring the advantages of building its own data management platform (DMP), which would give it more control over the third party data needed to target audiences and allocate spend accordingly.

“It’s hard to say whether we’ll outsource the bulk of our programmatic activity,” said Adamson. “What we recognise is that programmatic shouldn’t be a siloed media channel within the business. In terms of how that’s dealt with moving forward, I wouldn’t want to put any constraint on that moment. I would say that we’re looking into the DMP space at the moment. We have a marketing technology manager who’s exploring the best routes to market and depending on the output from that he may influence how we work at the moment.”

The travel industry is one of the toughest markets to cut-through, a marketing challenge compounded by its tendency to deliver low margins. Despite this, its high volume of holiday makers searching and purchasing trips means it is rich data pool capable of fuelling broader campaigns beyond search and online travel agents. It is why programmatic is becoming a key destination for many travel brands now as they look to drive efficiencies with more targeted buys, spanning more channels like video and mobile.

“We want to replicate the CRM model but within advertising,” said Adamson. “Programmatic is a place we needed to be so that we can trade more efficiently as a business in the here and now as well as safeguard ourselves for the future as more media becomes advertised and more of that media becomes traded programmatically.”

The Exchange Lab began working with Virgin Holidays last September when it was one of the brands rolled into its global programmatic offering - Proteus. 

ASOS reports 20% rise in retail sales
Posted on Tuesday July 07, 2015

British online fashion and beauty store ASOS has recorded a 20 per cent rise in retail sales for the four months to 30 June after its active customer base rose 11 per cent year on year to hit 9.7m.

By market this saw sales up 27 per cent in the UK and 16 per cent internationally bringing the proportion of revenue generated by overseas trade down slightly from 61 per cent last year to 59 per cent this year.

A total of 98m visits were recorded across the suite of ASOS websites during June 2015, up from 71m in June 2014.

Nick Robertson, CEO, commented: “After accounting for our price investments during the period, the full year gross margin is nonetheless expected to remain in line with last year, assisted by tighter inventory control and strong full price sales. We anticipate that sales for the full year will be at the higher end of our guided 15-20% growth range. We have increased investment in our people and our customer proposition, particularly in relation to free returns trials. We therefore expect EBIT margin to remain at the guided level of c.4%.”

ASOS will provide a further update in tandem with their results for the year ending 31 August 2015 on the 20 October.

Eddie Izzard launches BBC Get Inspired and Join In partnership
Posted on Tuesday July 07, 2015

Sports volunteering charity, Join In and BBC Get Inspired have reignited their partnernship for the launch of the Big Help Out, an initiative to recruit 10,000 new volunteers to help out at local sports clubs, groups and events. 

Join In patron Eddie Izzard, alongside Paralympic athlete Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, will launch the campaign on 7 July, which looks to build on the success of the inaugural #BigThankYou at BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2014. 

Barbara Slater, BBC Director of Sport, said she is "delighted" that the BBC is once again partnering with Join In.

"The Get Inspired website now attracts on average 1.2 million views a month with over 350,000 people referred onto partner activities last year alone," she said. "We want to use that success to build on 2014’s #BigThankYou campaign and inspire more people to get involved with their local sports communities.”

BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2015 will take place on 20 December in Belfast.


Japan’s Hakuhodo acquires Sid Lee
Posted on Monday July 06, 2015

Kyu, the strategic operating unit of Japanese holding company Hakuhodo, has acquired Montréal-based agency Sid Lee.

Sid Lee joins Digital Kitchen, SY/Partners and Red Peak Group at Kyu, an international portfolio of marketing services companies that was created last year.

The move comes as Kyu continues to expand its international footprint. Sid Lee has offices in New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, Amsterdam and Paris.

Michael Birkin, CEO of Kyu, said: “With Kyu, our goal is not to be the biggest. We aspire to be unlike anything that’s come before and are striving to be the best – to be a source of creativity that propels the economy and society forward. Sid Lee is a linchpin of our strategy and having its roots in the highly creative Montréal community is a massive bonus.”

Terms of the deal have not been disclosed. Sid Lee’s leadership team will remain in place and its headquarters will stay in Montréal.

Sid Lee works with brands including Absolut and Facebook.

Twitter now lets users display their birthday
Posted on Monday July 06, 2015

Twitter users will now have the option to display their birthday on their profile.

The feature is optional and users have control over who can see it. The birth year setting is separate from the birth month and day setting, so users can choose how much or how little they want to share.

When it is someone’s birthday, Twitter will splash animated balloons across that person’s profile page.

Comedian and actor Kevin Hart is helping the social media site kick off the new feature.

The move comes as Twitter continues to position itself as a platform where people can celebrate both personal and public events. Recently, the hashtag ‘#LoveWins’ became wildly popular on the site after the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is a right.

Digital media acquisitions increased a quarter in first half of 2015
Posted on Monday July 06, 2015

Mergers and acquisitions in the digital media, information and technology space have increased 24 per cent in the first half of 2015 compared the same period last year, according to investment bank Coady Diemar Partners.

The total number of these deals increased to 1,243 in the first half of 2015, up from 1,000 during the same period in 2014.

However, merger and acquisition (M&A) value in this space decreased 23 per cent to $99bn in the first half of this year compared to the year prior. According to the research, this is primarily due to a decrease in the number of deals equal to or greater than $1bn.

The three sectors with the greatest number of transactions were agency and marketing, digital content, and information.

The dollar value of M&A in the ad tech and services sector increased by three quarters (74 per cent) to $6.1bn in the first half of 2015, the largest percentage increase of any sector. The dollar value of M&A in the mobile sector decreased by 74 per cent due to the nearly $20bn acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook last year.  

The largest M&A deal announced this year in this space was the acquisition of software company Informatica for $5.3bn by private equity firms Permira and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.

The fourth-largest transaction was Verizon’s acquisition of AOL for nearly $4.4bn.

Global ad agency holding companies WPP, Dentsu, and Publicis Groupe were the three most active digital acquirers in the first half of 2015 with Google tied for third.

Team England unveils Rugby World Cup 2015 shirt in social media launch
Posted on Monday July 06, 2015

Canterbury and team England have released the first images of the shirt the side will wear during the Rugby World Cup which they will be playing on home turf.

During an event at Twickenham on Monday morning, the groups simultaneously published the first stills of the strip on their Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr feeds at 8.00am.

The strip, unveiled by England captain Chris Robshaw was field tested fior over 220 hours, with its durability trialed over 250,000 miles to ensure the side has the best kit behind it.

Stuart Lancaster, England head coach said: “Every player in the squad takes enormous pride in pulling on the England shirt.  As a group, we talk about the unbreakable bond of the rose between former, current and future players and for this symbol to be emphasised in 3D form is a key feature. 

“We are grateful for the support of the fans and in the year of a home World Cup the power of the nation behind us can be the difference.  It is great that it was the supporters who launched the shirt and that they have been central to the day.”

The new England Rugby World Cup shirt will be available in store from 17 July.

With the World Cup set to kick off 18 September, the body has signed up Dove Men+Care, Coca-Cola and Trinity Mirror as commercial partners.

BBC TV licence fee dropped for over 75s to reduce ‘pressure on tax payers’
Posted on Monday July 06, 2015

The BBC and the government have reached an agreement to drop licence fee charges for over-75s.

On the news that the corporation is set to foot a £650m drop in licence fee income in 2017/18 as part of a government initiative to lessen the burden of austerity on the elderly, chancellor George Osborne has said that the publically funded body “should make savings”.

Osborne said in a statement: “The BBC is a valued national institution that produces some of the finest television and radio in the world… the deal we have agreed with the corporation means that it will take on the significant cost of TV licences for the over-75s, easing some of the pressure on taxpayers who have to meet the country’s welfare bill, while also ensuring that our promise to maintain pensioner benefits is met in full over the next five years.

“The decisions the BBC and the government have reached together will also secure its long-term future, with a funding model that is sustainable and can adapt in an age where technology is rapidly changing."

Tony Hall, director-general of the BBC, added: “We have secured the right deal for the BBC in difficult economic circumstances for the country. This agreement secures the long term funding for a strong BBC over the next Charter period.”

On future funding Hall welcomed the “end of the iPlayer loophole and the end of the broadband ring-fence”.

Subject to findings from the Charter Review, the BBC will be able to adjust the fee to take into account on-demand viewing on the BBC iPlayer.