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Latest news from The Drum

Ampersand Mobile appoints Dean Adkins as chief technology officer
Posted on Thursday May 28, 2015

‘Mobile first’ agency Ampersand Mobile has appointed Dean Adkins as chief technology officer (CTO).

Adkins brings 20 years of experience in the technology industry, having previously been director of operations for mobile agency, Grapple, from inception through to point of sale in 2013. Following the successful sale of Grapple, Adkins stayed on as vice president of operations for Monetise Creative. In his new role at Ampersand, Adkins is charged with developing the research and development team, as well as developing processes and operational structures for growth.

Adkins said: “Ampersand has that family feel and buzz of a start-up that you can tell is really going places, which was what I was really looking for from my next move. What really stood out for me was the company’s commitment to R&D.  R&D is often banded around like a buzzword, so it’s refreshing to see that such a small company has taken the time to have a separate branded entity dedicated to it; rather than most who just do it as part of client-driven delivery. The team at Ampersand are throwing themselves into building circuit boards for IoT and the like and really pushing to shape the connected world – that’s an exciting thing to be a part of. Ampersand is not just another app agency.

“The crucial thing in the coming years will be to ensure we have a grounded technology infrastructure in terms of process, systems, talent, and tools that allows us to have a stable basis for growth. One of the biggest things is nurturing the talent around me. My job is making sure they have everything they need to be the best at what they do and to give them an opportunity to be creative and inspired. That’s what will help us to stay a step ahead of the game.”

Nader Alaghband, chief executive of Ampersand Mobile, said: “We build, we innovate and we need someone with the ability to anticipate the market at the helm to ensure we remain true to that core focus on R&D as we grow. Dean has been a real trailblazer in the industry and has maintained that start-up enthusiasm, which makes him a great fit for us culturally. We are at a stage where we are growing fast and we need someone with experience to put the right framework in place to ensure that the business grows in the right direction – Dean has that experience.”

A spinout of award-winning R&D firm Apppli, Ampersand Mobile is based in London.

Screwfix nails down sponsorship of the England football team’s ITV coverage
Posted on Thursday May 28, 2015

Screwfix will sponsor all of team England’s football matches broadcast on ITV from June 2015 to UEFA Euro 2016.

The company will receive 140 seconds of sponsorship accreditation during each live game, and 80 seconds per highlight show, covering 12 live games and 12 highlight shows. The deal, negotiated by media agency MEC, will see creative conceived by LMC and produced by Wordley Production.

John Mewett, marketing director of Screwfix, added: “We’re delighted to be sponsoring ITV’s coverage of the England football team.

“We know that many of our customers are avid football fans and this will provide us with the right platform to be able to reach an even wider audience.”

The deal further strengthens Screwfix’s association with broadcast football coverage in the UK as the brand will also sponsor the Football League on Sky Sports next season.

Traditional brands such as BBC and M&S close gap on Amazon in useful brands index
Posted on Thursday May 28, 2015

Traditional brands such as the BBC, M&S and Boots are beginning to claw back some lost ground against digital heavyweights Amazon and Google, according to the latest Useful Brands Playbook.

A poll of 2,300 adults commissioned by digital product and service studio 383 showed that whilst Amazon remains at the top of the digital pecking order its margin of victory has been eroded.

The survey found that 57 per cent of respondents rated Amazon as the most useful brand in their digital lives, followed by Google on 49 per cent and the BBC on 29 per cent.

John Newbold, co-founder at 383, commented: “As you would expect, our research shows that there’s a gap between the digital usefulness of ‘native’ online brands like Amazon and Google, and traditional brands like the BBC, M&S and Boots. But it also shows that that gap is closing – the BBC in particular has thrived by adopting digital ecosystem thinking and demonstrating a clear awareness of the types of digital customer experiences which enrich people’s lives.

“Overall though, the message is clear: no brand can now afford to neglect designing and delivering great digital customer experiences – regardless of whether or not they’re a technology company.”

The BBC emerged as the best performing non-digital-native brand in the index, ahead of Marks & Spencer which gained eight per cent of votes.

Sir Martin Sorrell claims women need to be 'aggressive' to succeed – WACL president Lindsay Pattison responds
Posted on Thursday May 28, 2015

WPP chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell, not averse to creating talking points throughout his career, last night addressed the attendees at the Women in Advertising and Communications London (WACL) dinner and caused some consternation when he claimed that women needed to be ‘aggressive’ in order to be successful.
Outgoing president of WACL, Lindsay Pattison, writes for The Drum in reaction to Sir Martin’s comments and explains the circumstances:

At last night’s WACL dinner, Sir Martin Sorrell was on fine form speaking across a range of topics from world economies, the increasingly short tenures of CMOs, the UK election results and the impact for our business and then, the big T word.

That’s T for talent, with a focus on female talent, and he spoke about what WPP is doing to support it. So it was my brief I confess – possibly a hospital pass in such a feisty female dominated room – and he suggested that successful women were aggressive women.

This met with a few raised eyebrows and he was challenged on this, charmingly of course, in the Q&A. Did he perhaps mean ambitious or assertive…? He pulled back a little and said the key for him is commitment.  

My view? Collaboration, empathy and flexibility are all crucial for effective leadership, and are traditionally perceived as female traits. Yet I also see in many of my fellow WACL women the characteristics of being hugely persuasive, a willingness to take risks and yes, and an A word, but I would call it assertiveness.

Leadership is a fluid, nuanced process; you need to be adept at switching your style and be culturally adaptive as needed. Perhaps because women need to fight harder against ingrained bias and the status quo, we need to be more tenacious and determined to work our way up – if that comes across as aggression then I guess I will simply choose to take it as a compliment. 

Lindsay Pattison is chief executive of Maxus Worldwide. Pattison is stepping down as president of WACL, with Lindsey Clay, CEO of Thinkbox, taking over and Starcom MediaVest London’s co-CEO, Pippa Glucklich announced as the new vice president last week.

Oxford University Press crowns # the ‘children's word of the year’
Posted on Thursday May 28, 2015

Hashtag has been dubbed the most popular word of UK youths, according to research from the Oxford University Press.

Analysing 120,421 short stories written by kids aged between five and 13 years old for the BBC’s 500 Words competition, the OUP found that hashtag was the most commonly used buzzword, acknowledging that technology is becoming a larger part of young peoples’ lives.

Mobile was used more often than TV and terms like Snapchat, Instagram and emoji saw a surge.

Vineeta Gupta at the Oxford University Press, told the BBC: “This has been a significant change in usage in this year, 2015.

“Children have extended its [#] use from a simple prefix or as a search term for Twitter to an editorial device to add drama or comment.”

Researchers found that one of the most common storylines was finding fame through YouTube.

Meanwhile the most popular characters in the stories were Cinderella, Lionel Messi, Snow White, Adolf Hitler and Wayne Rooney.

Shell launches online films to push premium fuel brand
Posted on Thursday May 28, 2015

Shell is lifting the lid on the lives of some of the world’s most exciting drivers through a series of films promoting its premium fuel Shell V-Power.

The films chart the trial and tribulations expert drivers such as firemen and stuntmen face on a daily basis, emphasizing why premium fuel is core component to their success in the dangerous tasks they have to regularly overcome.

Created by Iris Worldwide, the long-form content series kicks with two films; Staying ahead of Fear (Fire truck) and Staying ahead of Gravity (Stuntman). The films launched online and on video-on-demand this month in the UK first before arriving in the US, Canada and Malaysia.

The aim is to build a positioning around the brand beyond just reliability and tap into the performance and visceral aspects of driving.

Despite coming under repeated fire from activists group in recent years, Shell’s brand appears to be in rude health. The oil company was ranked the third most valuable brand in the UK in 2015 with a value of $18.4bn, according to the respected BrandZ list. It was the same value it had in 2014, suggesting a uneventful period for the brand from a marketing sense but also no lasting damage from ongoing activist action. 

Grey London promotes Bill Scott and Natalie Graeme to push growth and innovation agenda
Posted on Thursday May 28, 2015

Grey London has promoted managing director Bill Scott and managing partner Natalie Graeme to the roles of UK Group managing director and managing director respectively.

As UK Group managing director Scott will be responsible for group operations and driving further integration between the agency’s advertising, shopper, digital, production and social business units, as well as collaboration with the wider network.

Graeme, now managing director of Grey London, is charged with overseeing creative services and the agency’s content division specifically.

Scott said: “It’s through increased collaboration that the best and most innovative ideas are born – and it’s that kind of surprising work that we want to be making. Integrated wins over the past two years like General Mills and McVitie’s, plus the fact that 80 per cent of our clients already work with more than one business unit, show how compelling the offer at Hatton Garden already is.”

Managing partner Nicola Wardell has also stepped up to client services director, replacing Sarah Jenkins who has been promoted to chief marketing officer.

easyProperty appoints The Red Brick Road ahead of its move into residential sales
Posted on Thursday May 28, 2015

Online estate agent and part of easyGroup easyProperty has appointed The Red Brick Road as its lead retained creative and PR agency.

Appointed following a pitch process, The Red Brick Road is charged with supporting easyProperty with an above-the-line advertising and PR push when its residential sales packages go to market later in the year.

Tess Tucker, chief marketing officer at easyProperty, said The Red Brick Road has impressed with its “integrated creative thinking” and that easyProperty was “confident we have a partner who will help us to land effectively, with prospective vendors and landlords, the real benefits which our service provides.”

Chief executive officer at The Red Brick Road, David Miller, added: “We love working with clients who share our entrepreneurial values and ambition; easyProperty is exactly our kind of disruptor in a market which has been slow to embrace advances in technology. We look forward to helping them establish a real sea-change that will hugely benefit home-owners.”

At present easyProperty operates solely within the UK lettings market, the appointment precedes a move into residential sales later in the year.

Five ways small companies can leverage big data
Posted on Thursday May 28, 2015

In recent years, there has been a huge amount of hype around the subject of “Big Data” and its ability to capture and uncover meaningful insights that can be translated into improved ROI on marketing activity. Vendors of big data analysis tools claim that it offers a goldmine of performance-related information to help digital advertisers inform their strategies. For example, advertisers might want to know how the devices used by consumers or the geographic area that they live in correlates to campaign performance, or to compare the conversion rates of one type of offer over another.

With so much to track, organise and analyse, however, it can be difficult to know where to begin. While there is clearly a lot of interest in the subject, the reality for most businesses is that leveraging the potential benefits of Big Data remains a significant challenge.

The biggest revolution in this area in recent years is that new software tools are making it easier and easier to leverage big data, regardless of company size. Five years ago, it would have required considerable investment in in-house hardware and software to even think about capturing, analysing and exploiting big data. Today, there are a range of easily accessible, affordable tools that are available, particularly in cloud environments, allowing small companies the chance to access serious computing power on-demand and pay by the hour.

The game has changed forever for smaller companies, as they now have the genuine opportunity to compete online with their larger rivals on an equal footing. Leveraging big data is now technically and financially viable for smaller companies in a way that it never has been before.

But where to begin?

The affiliate marketing industry has pioneered a number of innovative strategies and technologies for utilising big data in campaign tracking and analysis. Here are a few lessons learned in the performance marketing world that small businesses can apply to their own efforts to exploit the potential of Big Data:

Use Active Tracking Links Where Possible

Advanced tracking technology utilises active tracking links hard coded with information about each specific campaign, including name, creative source, landing page and more. When a user clicks on an ad embedded with an active tracking link, advanced tracking technology accesses up to 30 unique data points, analyses this information in milliseconds, and directs the user to the most appropriate landing page.

Get Granular

To capture a complete picture of digital marketing performance, the ability to track events is critical. Events may include any action that a consumer takes along the journey to a conversion, from clicking on a display ad or using a voucher code, to watching a video, ‘liking’ a Facebook page, or saving an item in an ecommerce shopping cart. Post conversion events such as site logins, app usage and additional purchases are also important, providing marketers with additional metrics that can be used to assess the total lifetime value of customers going forward.

Analyse Holistically

How data is analysed is just as important as what data is analysed. All too often, advertisers tend to evaluate their marketing campaigns in isolation — keeping mobile data separate from display, display separate from email and so on. It’s critical to be able to understand how all of the “moving parts” work together. These nuances are impossible to see when data is locked in silos, demanding a single, integrated view of data across all channels to make sense of the complex relationships between them.

Analyse in Real-time

The shelf life of online data is short, so an ability to capture and analyse information at lightning speed is key. Real-time information about what actions consumers are taking in the moment empowers marketers to adjust and refine campaign strategies even while they are still in progress, making the most of their digital investments.


The performance industry has begun to embrace technology that includes advanced data visualisation capabilities. The best tracking solutions are those that can build immediate and informative visualisations from incoming data, giving decision makers an integrated, at-a-glance view of the most important KPIs.

Online marketing is more complex than ever and advertisers should adapt their analytics strategies to better understand where and when to most profitably invest their resources. Armed with real-time capabilities for tracking, analysing and interpreting all of the rich, multi-channel information on campaign performance at their disposal, marketers can move beyond the hype and transform Big Data into smart advertising.

The lesson for small businesses is that, when it comes to getting to grips with the issue of Big Data, quantity doesn’t matter.

Dave Stewart is the founder and chief technology officer of tracking and attribution software provider CAKE.

Digital trading: Why advertisers need to think beyond viewability
Posted on Thursday May 28, 2015

Advertisers, you’ve looked at your campaigns and increased your viewability rates by applying pre-bid targeting segments for viewability, and you’ve ensured to block for ad fraud. Congratulations! Your digital ad spend will already be more effective.

However, even a campaign with excellent viewability can be compromised by problems, such as unsavoury images, numerous ad units and inappropriate content. To run the most effective campaigns, advertisers and their agencies need to think beyond viewability and address the following issues as well.

Is the page safe for your brand?
Imagine this, you are planning to promote your summer, swimwear collection.  You rest easy at night knowing the campaign parameters set ensure for premium, quality placement, such as, for your luxury line. The viewability rates are excellent. There’s one major problem—the ads end up running alongside an article titled, 'Don’t be a Prune: Sun, Skin and Wrinkles' – will this inspire the reader to buy a bikini? Probably not.  

Surrounding context matters. If it is misaligned to a brand’s image, then both the campaign and brand’s reputation can suffer. The risk of ad misplacement is higher when buying impressions on exchanges and networks, where an estimated 13.7 per cent of placements could be adjacent to damaging content, such as adult themes, bad language or illegal downloads.

Ensuring a brand safe environment for online advertising requires a nuanced approach. An environment that is considered ‘unsafe’ for one brand might be ideal for another. A wholesome baby food brand will not want its ads on a page about craft beer but a retailer that sells clothing, like novelty t-shirts, certainly will!

Ads, ads Everywhere
An ad can be deemed viewable, but how effective is it if surrounded by a dozen others? A website crammed with too many adverts can damage both the user’s experience and the ad’s ability to stand out.

We’ve all done it; when browsing on your favourite news site, you scroll to the bottom and see a link to, 'Top 10 Celebrity Disasters', cautiously you look over your shoulder; no one is around to see you; you click to satiate your curiosity. The problem is, the page is so packed with ads that the browser slows to a crawl and it interrupts the flow of what you wanted to read. The slowly rendering slideshow of catastrophes is not worth the increasing wait. After a few seconds – long enough for ads to be registered as viewable – click – you close the window.

The ad is fraud free.  It’s technically viewable. And so too are those twelve other ads which were on the page. Too many ads and a cumbersome page is an ineffective placement for any advertiser.

Location, location, (pretty) location
Whether the real estate is bricks-and-mortar or digital, good location is critical. In digital advertising, not all placements are created equal. To ensure campaigns are most effective, advertisers should monitor placement in addition to viewability. A video ad that plays in a side banner is less noticeable than one that appears front and centre.

However, a good placement also depends on the page design. An unattractive site might be less effective, especially when advertising is clumsy. For most brands, a premier placement on a poor quality page could potentially damage the brand image, as a viewer may judge a brand as guilty by association.

It’s more than meets the eye
The recent focus on viewability and non-human activity is helping raise awareness to ensure digital advertising spend is not wasted. These key issues are today a focus for trade bodies such as the IAB and ABC. They are providing industry-recognised verification standards and accreditation that assure advertisers that they are receiving transparency and control over the quality of their digital ad campaigns

However, it takes more than viewability to make an impact on consumers. With all the effort that goes into the creative process and selecting the right audience, ensuring the ads run on quality media is vital to a successful campaign.  Advertisers should fully consider every element of online media quality when planning a campaign.    

Niall Hogan is UK managing director at Integral Ad Science