Global success in latest RAJAR

October 24th, 2013 by Simon Bollon

The latest RAJAR results start slowly trickling in from the stations and first one in the inbox is GLOBAL Radio and what a stand out performance they have delivered across all their brands…the key headlines are:


The Capital Network leaps to the number one UK commercial station with 7.7m million listeners each week which is an increase of 865,000 listeners and they now account for  the top three positions in the key London breakfast market.

Other headlines include are


Capital is now the UK’s leading commercial radio network
– A record-breaking 7.7 million people tune in to Capital stations each week
– 865,000 new listeners in the past year


95.8 Capital FM is London’s number one commercial radio station
– 2.2 million weekly listeners
– 171,000 new listeners in the past year


The Heart network consolidates its success
– Increasing reach year-on-year and quarter-on-quarter, with 7.6 million listeners
– Up 225,000 year on year
– Heart gives Global the first and second largest commercial radio brands in the UK
– Notable gains around the UK include Heart West Midlands, Essex and Kent


LBC 97.3 continues its huge growth
– Highest ever national reach at 1.3 million listeners
– Highest ever London reach at 1.1 million listeners
– Nick Ferrari gains 88,000 listeners year on year at LBC breakfast


It will be interesting to how the other commercial groups perform but that is some performance and it just proves that investment in programming and station talent really does deliver growth it’s just a pity that every station doesn’t have the deep pockets that Global appear to have.

Twitter is better than Facebook for social TV

October 11th, 2013 by Simon Bollon

Social Media is a hotbed of engagement for live television. There is no doubt that television feeds social engagement and whilst it is integral to social interaction I think Fru Hazlett (MD of Commercial activity at ITV) was being a little tongue in cheek when she said ‘Social would be nowhere without ITV

Facebook are gaining ground on Wall Street with an increase of around 30% after a relatively disastrous start to life on the market. Further, they are taking steps to monetize post content but I can’t see them ever making up ground on Twitter in the battle for social TV and here’s why….

Engagement – Twitter is somewhat akin to standing on a chair in large filled room and shouting your opinion. Facebook is like offering your opinion to a group of friends in a restaurant. Granted some people might hear your thoughts but really, you’re talking to ‘friends’. That lack of mass engagement on Facebook therefore provides other users with only a pocket of opinion.

A search on Twitter for #strictly at 12.25 on a Friday brought up the official page as a recommendation and 19 tweets in the last 2 hours. Below, I saw ‘related tweet’s for #scd. Importantly, the tweets were a combination of ‘official’ tweets, those of viewers and participants meaning real engagement and a closeness to the product.

The only relevant result on Facebook (top search bar) was for the official page and whilst there are comments these are of course managed. Which leads me to the second point:

Brand – Facebook is a tool for brand promotion. Any comment on the official page is of course monitored and content around the show is managed accordingly. Twitter on the other hand provides a broad range of results. The content is often reactionary and as a result the content can be varied. That’s a critical difference on the commercial value of Facebook versus Twitter. Facebook is a great platform for brand exploration whilst Twitter is thought led (more on that another time!). Critically, there is one other key point…..

Speed – A slightly sweeping statement perhaps but posts on facebook tend to be more thoughtful and conscious. Twitter is a platform for instant opinion. Viewers tend to offer very instant thought on Twitter and you can see a volume of comments throughout a show whereas on Facebook the user might make one or two more thoughtful, conscientious, well thought out comments to summarise thinking. That’s not to say one is less valuable to advertisers, brands and consumers but there is a key difference. Twitter explodes with comment. Facebook grows with thought.

If I was a betting man I would use Twitter for the natural reaction of the audience to an act whilst I would use Facebook to see who really cares and how engaged people are with each act. Not to dissimilar to how a brand might look to engage with consumers I guess?


Boutique set out growth strategy

October 7th, 2013 by Simon Bollon

See below the article that appeared in BQ Magazine, October 2013.

The recession wreaked havoc across the advertising and marketing landscape, slashing spending and diminishing budgets.

Its negative impact, however, may now have faded, with research last quarter showing the number of marketing departments increasing spending in the UK at its highest level
since 2007.

That was according to IPA’s Bellweather Report, while another recent report revealed a 90% increase in mobile advertising spend in the UK in 2012 to £1bn.

But, besides the fallout from economic fluctuations, other game-changing forces are also at play among agencies embroiled in the marketing game.

Disciplines are merging, digital dominance is growing and many firms are finding the old ways are now obsolete.

One firm which looks to be geared up to thrive in the current and impending climate is Boutique Media, based in Leeds.

The media planning and buying company has set out plans to grow its workforce from seven to 25 as it stretches its reach into other marketing spheres, like digital and PR.

Director Simon Bollon meets BQ having just registered a solid second year in business for the firm – and is optimistic that much bigger things are to follow.

Turnover in year one was £600,000, rising to £1.2m in year two and now in its current third financial year it expects to hit around £1.8m. Its client spend makes more impressive reading, though, standing at £6m in year one, £10m the year after and projected to hit £12m this year.

Starting up with £3m “worth of goodwill” made its market entry as a new brand smoother – in an industry that is notoriously tough to dive into as a relative unknown.

“As a media agency you have to have accreditation insurance,” Bollon says. “If we book £5m worth of advertising with ITV they need to be covered, so it’s very difficult to get accreditation and you have to have cash in the bank. That makes it almost impossible to start a media agency.

“So we trade through Mediacom which is the UK’s biggest agency. So if we book advertising for say £1m, the media owners charge us 85% or 90% of that and we invoice Mediacom for that commission.”

Having developed a national spread of clients since its launch, Boutique Media now aims to exploit a perceived gap in the market.

“We are trying to be that middle ground between the big network agencies and the small privately owned ones. Any small privately owned independent agency just can’t compete on price, but we can because of our association with the bigger agencies and therefore we’re able to tap into the scale and spending power of those agencies. But we also do everything structured as a small agency. So it’s a very niche position in the market that we’ve got.”

As it targets future growth, the business has this year launched a new digital division and, in the coming months, hopes to add a PR agency to its arsenal. Success has been achieved, says Bollon, through its approach which guarantees clients that a director within the business will head up their account. The recent recruitment of a new head of digital has also delivered a “massive” boost.

Amid fragile recovery, marketing remains a relatively stagnant sector, and such tactics by Boutique perhaps show the need to do more to appease client demands.

“We’re a privately owned business and our clients will get directors heading up the account. So to an Asda that doesn’t matter because they’ve got a team of 20 in their marketing department and 20 in an agency. But clients like Xercise 4 Less [the Leeds-based budget gym business], which are privately owned entrepreneurial businesses, completely get what our proposition is.”

The landscape for marketing agencies is, says Bollon, getting “murky” as the traditional boundaries between the realms of “create, publish and promote” are being dissolved.

“You’ve got specialists doing the digital bit and the promote bit and in the middle of it you’ve got old school PR agencies but PR agencies more and more have moved into doing it digitally – but that’s the role of a digital agency so you end up with this murky line as to who looks after what.

“You’ve got the digital, the PR and media agencies and we’re trying to bring that all together and we want to be seen as the leaders in that integration.

“The bigger agencies aren’t able to do [that]because they’re just not flexible enough. The two biggest agencies in the North have separate entities to run their digital divisions. They tried to integrate them but it’s just not possible because of their size and scale. At the same time small agencies can’t do it because they don’t have the scale and the client base to do it. So it gives us a good position in
the market.”

In the future Bollon believes customer needs will also drive an increasingly integrated marketing offering.

“People need to get away from this obsession with social media; it’s only as much a part of the future as everything else is. What they need is integrated communications.

“Businesses are obsessed with social media – ‘what do we do with it and how do we do it?’ Take law firms for example, how do you make Twitter interesting? How do you get someone to follow a law firm? How dull is that?

“Everybody thinks they’ve got to have a Twitter page, they’ve got to do Facebook, got to have followers. You might do but actually you might not as it might not be appropriate. So maybe you should be focusing on PR or blogging that adds value. That’s why we’re structuring our agency as a communications agency not as a digital or media agency.”

As Boutique chases new opportunities through its all-in-one approach, it is also setting out on the acquisitions trail.
Its aim is to open offices in Manchester and the North East and is now actively on the hunt for potential assets to purchase in those areas.

“We are in the market for buying agencies and we’re open minded whether it’s £100,000 or £1m. The purpose is to feed the growth, and we could either get the people and then source the opportunities or just buy it all and keep pumping more into it to grow it.

“The majority of agencies are in London, then you’ve got Manchester the heartland and then Leeds of which there are very few of us now actually – and then you’ve got the North East. We want to have a Boutique in the North East and Manchester but the only way we’d be willing to do that is through purchasing an agency or giving somebody an equity stake so almost like a franchise. The North East is like its own economy. You cannot get a piece of business out of there if you’re not there and don’t have the accent.

“If you can get the right kind of person I reckon there’s £5m to £10m worth of billings up there in the North East. We could build up a database of 100 North East clients who we could service better than what they’re getting but not without an office.”

Beyond that, Bollen’s key target is “to be the biggest independent agency outside London by 2015”. Whether or not that’s a realistic goal remains to be seen, but the firm certainly seems to be on the right track at least.