The Fishbowl: Hannah Barnett, Mail Metro Media

The Fishbowl: Hannah Barnett, Mail Metro Media

The Media Leader’s interview series asks the media industry’s top salespeople 10 revealing questions, drawn from our fishbowl. The questions will be drawn at random and contain some tricky posers set by the commercial chiefs themselves.

This week, it’s Hannah Barnett, executive director for clients and planning at Mail Metro Media.

Hannah Barnett started her career at AOL, spending five years in publisher partnership and account management roles, before moving to Adform as a programmatic publisher sales manager.

She joined MailOnline 10 years ago, progressing from programmatic account manager to head of programmatic and data sales.

Since 2020, Barnett has moved from head of digital trading to commercial director of digital sales and then to her current position of executive director for clients and planning.

Barnett founded Mail Metro Media’s DEI steering committee and is also a Bloom mentor.

How did you end up working in media?

It was a “sliding doors” moment. I actually had no intention of working at all for a while after graduating.

I wanted to travel and explore South America for a few months before even considering a “real job”.

My friend got a temping job at AOL’s Ad.com and suggested I sign up to earn some money for my adventure, but from day one in the office I was hooked. The people, the culture, the fast-paced nature of the work.

After a few weeks, I was asked to join permanently. I gladly accepted Capper Street over Colombia and the rest is history.

Why are you passionate about media?

I’d describe myself as open-minded, eternally curious and I thrive amid change.

It’s a cliché that these days change is the only constant, and nowhere more so than in media, but that’s what I love about our industry.

There’s always something new to learn and new challenges to overcome. I always ask myself: “Am I learning fast enough?” Because since I started working in media in 2008, I’ve witnessed so much change in media consumption habits, emerging platforms, legislation, metrics, technology — the list goes on.

What key thing has changed in conversations with clients this year compared with last year?

Leading the client team, I get insight from every vertical and, while they all have their distinctions, there’s been a strong theme this year in brands wanting to create a genuine community with their consumers, building loyalty and bringing on the next generation of customers. Clearly, this isn’t new, but it feels like 2024 is the “year of community”.

MailOnline (especially the app) has an extremely loyal and engaged audience, so we are well-positioned to assist brands on this and with our 11.4m TikTok global subscribers, we tell our stories to the younger generations too.

What was the last movie you saw at the cinema?

Bob Marley: One Love. I’m a film fan and music lover, so this was the perfect combination.

Bob Marley is a legend to me as, despite many challenges and hardships, he never gave up on his vision and message of peace and unity.

That message transcends genres, cultures and generations. Looking around the cinema, I loved to see how that message is still true today and the film is bringing a variety of people together from different backgrounds and demographics as only music can.

If you could learn any new skill from scratch, what would it be?

I’m big on self-development and love trying new things. I recently fell in love with yoga and am trying Brazilian jiu-jitsu and pottery classes next month.

If we are thinking blue sky, then it’s a toss-up between learning to play the bass guitar and training to be an astronaut. I’ve always had a fascination with space and the moon; I even did an astronomy course at Greenwich observatory.

What is part of your daily routine that you look forward to every day?

From a personal view, I’m a big Wordle nerd and look forward to competing with my nearest and dearest on our scores daily.

Professionally speaking, I always get a sense of pride seeing people engaging with Mail Metro Media’s news brands when I’m commuting.

Whether that’s turning the pages of Metro or scrolling through MailOnline, seeing how they relate to our content in so many ways reminds me just how big a part of cultural currency we are.

Peer question: If you could work with any other media owner on a collaborative campaign for an advertiser, who would it be and why?

Collaboration is one of Mail Metro Media’s key pillars, so we already collaborate with lots of other media owners and get great results for our clients.

The biggest to date is the government’s “All In, All Together” campaign, which we led with other publishers during Covid, and we cover-wrapped the Daily Mail for the very first time.

As a big music fan, I’d love to collaborate with Spotify or Global to capitalise on shared cultural moments.

As our chief revenue officer Dom Williams is famous for always saying: “We are open for business!”

Question from Emma Callaghan, sales and invention director, Reach

Peer question: When you started your career, what was your biggest weakness and how did you overcome it to progress?

Trying to fit in. I realise now that authenticity and individuality is a superpower.

You can’t be everyone’s cup of tea and, frankly, I’d rather be someone’s shot of tequila.

Question from Rachel Sutton, head of brand partnerships, Ocean Outdoor

Peer question: Where or what do you get your best inspiration from?

I get a lot of inspiration from other women in media. Seeing them at the very top of their organisations really motivates me and I get a portal into this through attending Wacl events and following the career of some of the most high-profile female leaders.

I’m also motivated by the fresh perspective of the new generation of talent entering the industry, which I get to witness first hand through mentoring and Mail Metro Media’s ongoing partnership with Brixton Finishing School.

Question from Katie Bowden, director of commercial audio, Global

Peer question: What would you tell your younger self?

Don’t be afraid of failure. Dive in.

Question from Richard Bon, UK managing director and Europe commercial lead, Clear Channel

Read more Fishbowl interviews here and see what media’s top salespeople say about working in the industry and what concerns their clients. To suggest an interviewee, contact ella.sagar@uk.adwanted.com.

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