What media salespeople are hearing from their clients this year

What media salespeople are hearing from their clients this year

This year The Media Leader launched the Fishbowl interview series, posing 10 revealing questions every week to the media industry’s top media salespeople. The questions are drawn at random from our bank and contain some tricky posers set by the commercial chiefs themselves, but no one knows which question comes from whom until the article is published.

There is one interesting question that has often emerged with particularly interesting answers: what is coming up in conversations with clients at the moment?

With so much disruption happening in commercial media, as audience behaviour changes and the cost-of-living crisis forces consumers and marketers to make difficult spending decisions, there has never been a more interesting time to take the temperature of what advertisers are thinking.

Here is what some of the UK’s top commercial media operators had to say about what they are hearing from clients.

Emma Newman, chief revenue officer for EMEA at PubMatic

“There’s a far greater emphasis on sustainability in all its guises with more of a focus on carbon reduction and shifting spending to publishers supporting underrepresented voices and communities, as well as those whose content promotes credible journalism and supports responsible publication ecosystems.”

Davina Barker, Digital Cinema Media’s sales director

“The challenges of TV inflation. At DCM we are big fans of TV and think that cinema is the best complement to an AV schedule and an attractive option for brands looking to mitigate some of that inflation, particularly for young audiences.”

Jem Djemal, global new business lead at VIOOH

“Naturally, my conversations centre around the emergence of this exciting channel within the programmatic ecosystem. Clients want to understand what programmatic digital OOH can bring to an advertiser’s broader omni-channel media plan.

“This shift towards an omni-channel strategy is reflected in the teams that are buying programmatic digital OOH. As highlighted in our recent State of the Nation report, as with executives globally this year, media executives in the UK are reporting movement in buying through OOH teams (-8 percentage points in the UK) and an increase in buying through digital/ programmatic teams (+22 percentage points in the UK).”

Dom Williams, chief revenue officer, Mail Metro Media

“Attention is clearly a hot topic – and something our teams are experts on from a digital, print and creative point of view.

“Delivering results — something else we excel at!

“Diversity — a shared passion and something we are all on a journey together with. And I think like myself, to be back seeing each other in real-life again…”

Katie Bowden, director of commercial audio at Global

“The cost-of-living crisis has been a big topic this Autumn; both how they adapt as a business and the human impact.”

Duncan Chater, MD at Bloomberg Media

“Growing brand awareness and familiarity has seen a huge increase in focus over the last year, with the majority of our clients highlighting Brand Trust and a strong brand reputation as their key priorities. Many of our clients have been talking to us about how they can build a deeper relationship with their customers.

“We’ve had numerous discussions with CMOs on how they are constructing their budgets. With brand trust and reputation as their priority and the current economic climate in full view, getting the balance between brand and performance right has never been more important for short term survival and long-term growth.

“We’ve also seen a continued focus on ESG, with clients looking to maintain their commitment to their ESG goals and communicate this effectively. Post COP26 and following the regulations introduced around Green Washing, ESG is front and centre for every marketeer. It’s moved beyond simply telling a nice story to being authentic and working with the wider business to achieve their goals.”

Parul Goel, territory head of UK and Europe for Zee Entertainment

“Three words — positivity, innovation and growth. Zee has been instrumental in acting on the philosophy of thinking local while acting global which has resulted in being a home grown brand from past 27 years, which each Asian Household in the UK is familiar with and consumes in one way or another through Sky or Virgin or BT or Zee5.”

Ed Couchman, UK general manager at Snap (soon to be joining Spotify)

“I think it’s a tough time for many businesses right now and clients are navigating more challenges than usual thanks to external factors — inflation, supply chain, talent shortages and the cost of living crisis.

“As ever though, in these tougher times, optimism does still find a way to shine through and I’m definitely seeing it around the World Cup. Less than 21 days to go, and brands have some truly exciting and creative plans ahead for Snapchatters. We’re seeing Augmented Reality at the heart of many campaigns, bringing fans closer to the action.”

Nick Shaw, chief revenue officer at Ocean Outdoor

“The launch of DeepScreen (Forced Perspective) took the market by storm and really made clients stand up and take notice. It was the Balenciaga/Fortnite collaboration on Piccadilly Lights that was the tipping point and since then, the number of clients wanting to engage with Ocean has increased tenfold.”

Dave Randall, commercial director at Future

“The obvious talking point is the cost of living crisis. It’s replaced Covid-19, although I fear that might be making a comeback! As we move into the winter months it’s becoming increasingly clear that advertisers are much more considerate as to where their spend is going. Trusted media brands are going to benefit from that due to the attention and strong connections with audiences they offer.”

Craig Tuck, chief revenue officer at Ozone


Sally Keane, head of enterprise sales for Northern Europe at Spotify

“The three things that are continuously coming up with clients are the cost of living crisis, diversity and inclusion, and hybrid working. These topics are all top of mind for people right now.”

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

“Sustainability and inclusivity are common topics. There’s no doubt, however, that the cost of living crisis is top of the conversational agenda right now. For our part, it’s nice to see rising interest in the fact that 50p in every pound invested in out-of-home (OOH) advertising goes back to the public purse. It’s a huge and consistent point of difference.”

Clare Turner, sales director at Pearl & Dean

“2022 is our first full year of ‘normal’ trading since the pandemic. Turnover so far has been better than expected across on-screen advertising, film partnerships and experiential activations with our partner DIVE.

“With the cost-of-living crisis only likely to get worse, cinemas are in a good place. Reminding advertisers that in previous recessions cinema attendance remained strong , that we have the best exclusive film content, along with the impact and attention that cinema provides for brands is what we’re focussed on.”

Emma Callaghan, sales and invention director at Reach

“I’m sure they’re quite excited to see what Netflix’s advertising proposition looks like and the opportunities with retail media brands such as Tesco and Deliveroo.

“Aside from new entries to market, I think most clients are feeling excited that they’ve got through an incredibly tough two years, that they’ve almost certainly better future-proofed their businesses as a result of Covid and now they can, (hopefully), look forward.

“From a Reach perspective (shameless plug) they’re most excited about our upcoming Cost of Living research and the multitude of advertising opportunities with our proprietary AI tool Mantis. It can do some pretty exciting things, from recommending content to contextual targeting, to understanding customer sentiment and ensuring brand safety.”

Richard Costa-D’sa, head of industry, media agency at Meta

“Understanding what AI and new solutions like Advantage plus campaigns can do to liberate their agency business models and teams, into focusing on the ‘why’ of campaigns not the ‘what’. Identifying new growth audiences, not over-planning, optimising and reconciling. This is where the real agency value sits and where smart agencies are building new, chargeable models on top of.”

Leo Goldingham, UK director of sales at Acast

“More than ever clients are coming to Acast for events, live podcasts and other “beyond the pod” solutions as they have gained trust in our ability to deliver creative excellence and extraordinary activations alongside our core products.”

James Cornish, VP of international sales at Vevo

“TV inflation.”

The Fishbowl is a weekly Q&A with the UK’s top commercial media salespeople. Check out the latest interview every Wednesday on The Media Leader here and on our daily newsletter.

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