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Stuart O'Brien

Lords calls for self-regulation in digital advertising

The UK’s Communications Committee has published a report ‘UK advertising in a digital age’ in which it calls for the £120 billion industry to take steps to self-regulate.

The report cites an explosion of businesses using technologies which make money from delivering advertising online, which often rely on processing personal data of consumers.

The House of Lords-based Committee says its heard evidence that even individuals within the industry do not have a comprehensive understanding of how business models such as these work, making the digital advertising industry dysfunctional and opaque.

Such views have almost certainly been exacerbated by the ongoing controversy involving Facebook and Cambridge Analytica.

The Committee notes that the UK is a global centre for advertising that relies on an international workforce, while its ability to attract and retain international workers is key to its global success. However, it says that extending the tiered visa system, which is slow, expensive and restrictive, to EU nationals will create an unmanageable barrier to finding and hiring the talent that the advertising industry needs.

As such, the report makes the following recommendations:-

  • The Committee recommends that the industry should take greater steps to self-regulate through independent bodies such as the Joint Industry Committee for Web Standards.
  • The Competition and Markets Authority should undertake a market study of the digital advertising market to ensure that it is working fairly for businesses and consumers.
  • The Government should review whether competition law is appropriate for the 21st century digital economy.
  • Individuals from all communities and backgrounds, regardless of ethnicity, gender, class and ability, should have access to employment in the advertising industry. The industry should discontinue informal working and recruitment practices, such as unpaid internships, which present a barrier to groups from lower socioeconomic groups. The Government should clarify the law on unpaid internships. This will allow the advertising industry to access a larger talent pool which better reflects the advertisers’ audiences.
  • The Government should seek to negotiate reciprocal agreements with other countries under which international workers with a job offer in the advertising industry will have the right to work in the UK. The Government should also introduce a creative industries’ freelancer visa.

Chairman of the Committee, Lord Gilbert of Panteg, said: “Advertising contributes to culture, society and fuels the economy by helping businesses to grow and compete against one another. It is therefore essential that UK advertising continues to thrive and maintain its international reputation. But the industry is facing immense changes which threaten to undermine its success.

“Digital advertising has quickly become the most significant form of advertising by spending. But the market for delivering digital advertising to consumers is notoriously ‘murky’: businesses which buy advertising services don’t know how their money is being spent, whether their advertising is being displayed next to content which is obscene or which supports terrorism, or whether their ads are being viewed by a human being at all.

“The consumer’s experience is also poor as they may be bombarded with clickbait, or their personal data may be exploited without their knowledge. To restore the public’s trust in advertising as a whole, the industry must commit to adhering to proper standards.

“The UK’s global success relies on an international workforce. These workers provide the cultural, creative, digital and languages skills which enable the UK to win advertising accounts from multi-national companies for global campaigns. As the UK leaves the EU, the Government must develop an immigration policy that works for advertising businesses.”

GUEST BLOG: Digital marketing in the automotive sector – 2018 trends

By Mediaworks

Despite the roll-out of an entirely online car-buying process from manufacturers like Hyundai, research shows that 98% of car purchases take place offline. However, 86% of pre-purchase research is done digitally.

Over half of car buyers start their research online, with 41% taking to search engines like Google to source the information they are looking for. 50% find their car dealer online and for 42% of buyers, it’s a dealer they have had no prior relationship with.

Clearly, a strong digital strategy is crucial now if automotive brands are to secure their place at the forefront of potential customers’ minds. And this digital dependence is only set to grow in the future, with more than half of customers admitting they would consider a fully online car-buying process.

So how do they do it? Digital marketing agency, Mediaworks, has released a new white paper specifically aimed at the automotive sector and outlining what their digital focus should be over the coming year. The Driving Digital: Digital Forecast 2018 white paper is available to download for free, but here we’ve summarised its key takeaways:

Mobile first

Mobile is a huge area of opportunity for those in the automotive sector, with 65% of potential car buyers actively researching on their smartphones — whether that’s while watching TV, during a commute, or in-between tasks.

To capitalise on this mobile-centric audience, automotive brands need to have a mobile-friendly site. You should already have this in place by now, so you should turn your attention to refining its functionality to give a superior user experience. An app could be a wise investment too, to differentiate your brand from its competitors and better support the sales process before, during and after.

Journey personalisation

It’s predicted that by 2020, customers will prioritise the overall experience offered when deciding between brands, outweighing both cost and product. With journey personalisation, you can bridge the gap between online and the dealership to deliver a superior customer experience.

How well you adapt to technological advances like AR, VR and MR will be intrinsic to this. Consider using this technology to enable virtual showrooms for customers or AR scans of unreleased vehicles. Harness artificial intelligence to improve the timing and location accuracy of promotions and discounts.

Voice search

Fuelled by improving error rates, voice search currently accounts for 40% of searches. It’s predicted that by 2020, half of searches will be delivered through voice — making it a clear priority for automotive brands.

Start by optimising your content to capture more conversational, long-tail and local searches and make sure its style, format and flow matches the new search shift. Visual search is also on the rise, so consider how you could implement it.

Customer profiling

Every digital marketing campaign’s success hinges on how well you understand your customer. As customers become more comfortable with sharing their data, it’s up to you to build a comprehensive data model.

Use the data you collect around purchase history and customer feedback to target others within the demographic with relevant offers. Harness local inventory ads to promote the most popular vehicles to potential customers near to your physical dealerships.


May 2018 will see the rollout of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will impact how automotive brands collect and store data. As you transition from segment-based to signal-based data, you should prioritise contextual marketing using data from each digital touchpoint.


Fewer than 27% of marketers use multi-touch attribution models, despite 90% believing attribution is important for online success. Multi-touch attribution is beneficial in that it helps you assign value to each of your marketing efforts.

Review your existing model to see how well it’s currently giving value to the different channels and stages of the purchasing funnel.

By conquering the above trends, automotive brands can strengthen their digital position and grow their success through 2018 and beyond.

New management team at Forum Events

Forum Events – the company behind the Digital Marketing Solutions Summit – has a new management team to take the business forward.

Longtime Managing Director Sarah Beall (pictured) has joined the Board of Directors, sitting alongside Finance & Operations Director, Gill McCaughay, and New Business Director, Gill Woods.

Erstwhile Chairman Paul Rowney – who founded the company with McCaughay and Woods in 1997 – has retired from the business.

The news comes following a period of significant growth for Forum Events, and as it looks ahead to further expansion in 2018 and beyond. New events and initiatives are in the pipeline for this year and the company is currently bolstering its 70+ staff count.

“Sarah has contributed significantly to the growth of the business, so we’re delighted to welcome her to the Board,” said McCaughay.

Beall added: “Forum Events is positioned to expand further this year and beyond, with new events and new initiatives in the pipeline. It’s an exciting time to be joining the Board and helping to steer the business onwards and upwards.”

Forum Events pioneered the unique concept of face-to-face meetings events, based on matching the interests of procurement decision-makers with suppliers.

The event format brings companies together at ‘Forums’ and ‘Summits’ – bespoke events tailored to satisfy the needs of specific industry sectors.

Over the past 21 years the company has hosted over 500 events, attended by over 70,000 delegates, resulting in over 750,000 new business relationships.

In addition, Forum Events’ media division includes:

  • PA Life – The UK’s leading and award-winning media hub for savvy Personal and Executive Assistants. The portfolio includes a bi-monthly magazine, website, weekly newsletter, plus a series of live events.
  • Hotel Designs – A leading industry resource aimed directly at hoteliers, designers and architects from across the globe. The website and weekly newsletter is complemented by a series of networking and business-building events.
  • The Briefing Portfolio – Daily online Briefing content and fortnightly email newsletters for a number of sectors including FM, Care, Retail, Cyber Security, Call Centres, HR, Digital Marketing and Education.

For more information, visit

Print & Digital Innovations Summit

Print & Digital Innovations Summit – Everything you need to know

In 2017, 62 senior print and digital print professionals attended – from ActionAid to Zurich Financial Services, BBC to Ted Baker, John Lewis to Sony.

They registered for the Summit to source new suppliers and solution providers, attend our seminar sessions and to network with their peers. And here’s what our former delegates had to say about the event…

“Very informative event. I enjoyed the seminars and had some successful meetings with potential suppliers” – Caribbean Tourism Organisation

“An excellent way to meet new people/suppliers and learn new ways to meet your objectives” – British Gas

“Good to know what’s out there and get through a whole procurement exercise in one day” – Atkins

“An excellent overview of a range of suppliers, done in an informal manner to gain the best information” – Bentley Motors

This year’s Print & Digital Innovations Summit takes place on November 22nd at the Hilton London, Canary Wharf.

It’s entirely free for you to attend – Register HERE to activate your ticket today.

However, we have an extremely limited number of VIP invitations to the event, so act swiftly to avoid disappointment.

Alternatively, contact Emily Gallagher on 01992 374085 / for more information.

Or, if you’re a supplier and would like to attend the event to showcase your solutions, contact Sam Walker on 01992 374054 /

Digital Marketing Solutions Summit

Your day at the Digital Marketing Solutions Summit – Book now!

The Digital Marketing Solutions Summit will provide you with a full day of business connections, seminars and invaluable networking opportunities.

Taking place on Tuesday May 15th at the Hilton London, Canary Wharf, it is entirely FREE for you to attend – simply register here.

The event will enable you to lay the groundwork for your organisation’s digital marketing strategy for the rest of 2018 and beyond.

This could be your personal itinerary…

8.00 – 8.45am: Delegate Registration – Itinerary & Badge Collection

8.45 – 9.30am: Choice of two seminar sessions

9.40 – 10.50: Face-to-face meetings with hand-selected suppliers who match your individual requirements and upcoming projects

10.50 – 11.05: Coffee Break & Networking

11.05 – 12.40: Face-to-face meetings with solution providers who can help trim your budgets

12.40 – 13.25: Buffet Lunch (Complimentary) & Networking

13.25 – 14.35: ‘Speed Dating’ for business

14.35 – 14.50: Coffee Break & Networking

14.50 – 15.35: Pre-arranged meetings with suppliers based on your business needs

15.45 – 16.30: Seminar

16.30: Event ends

Each meeting provides an introduction to each company, and strictly with no hard sell.

This could be the most valuable day you take out of the office this year. Register now as we have a limited number of places.

Alternatively, contact Katie Bullot on 01992 374049 / to find out more.

5 minutes with… Gary Peeling, CEO, Precision Printing

Precision Printing, an innovator in the print technology industry and leading supplier of litho printing, is one of the most respected companies in the sector. But, how do you manage one of the top printing companies in the UK? Here to share his insider knowledge and advice on all things print is the firm’s group CEO, Gary Peeling…

Can you tell us how you get started in print?

Yes, I began as Precision Printing’s teaboy! And that must have been about 30 years ago.

If we were to take on your role, what would a normal day at Precision Printing look like?

Rising early and getting started is really important to me and helps me get on with my work throughout the course of the day. To start, I’ll walk the production floors to make sure that everything is running smoothly. This is better than any dashboard or report, as you can see what projects we’re on, which customers we’re busy with, and the types of products that are selling well.

Obviously, checking how our business is doing is vital, too. So, after walking the floors, I review our ecommerce channels. Often, I also use the quiet time to complete more complex cost and business proposals, analytical or planning work. Then, I check all of my emails and usually follow this with a few meetings — often, there’s one away from our premises and two or three conducted on our site.  I tend to finish work at about 6:30pm.

How do you relax after work?

Family time and separating my mind from work is, of course, important. We enjoy doing things together, and I also love cycling, travelling the world and listening to Billy Joel!

Do you know any industry secrets you can let us in on?

I think readers would be surprised by how fast-changing print is and how much there is to learn. An insider view of print, that many people don’t know about, could be the monetising of emerging technologies, which often includes printing and graphic arts. Good examples of this are e-commerce, digital photography and Apple Mac.

What is it like being a CEO?

At the heart of my job, is the task of leading the executive teams. In a normal week, I dedicate around 50% of my time to analysing and reviewing marketing, sales and business development. Aside from that, I spend about 20% of my time on operational efficiency, 15% on finance and 10% on HR and staff.

Are there any role models in the sector that you admire?

Being in my position, I have decent knowledge of people in my industry and think it’s important to keep an eye on their careers and decisions. One gentleman that I find particularly inspirational is Alon Bar Shany, HP Indigo’s general manager. He’s somebody I really admire. Alon Bar Shany ran a revolution in digital printing and managed a massive global business, yet still somehow makes time to meet and know most of his significant customers.

Do you have any advice you can share with us about being in the print industry or working as a CEO?

Harbouring a creative flair and being able to adapt and change with each new trend is critical to anyone’s survival in the print sector. Believe it or not, every business slowly dies as soon as it launches. Also, don’t think that it’s ever too late or too complicated to do something — it rarely is.

I’d recommended keeping up to date with advances in tech if you want to excel in print, too. Print is versatile and dependent on new technologies, so being creative, marketing fresh ideas, and producing innovative products. If you can understand different business industries, print is going to be perfect for you.

What are the main problems that the print industry is facing?

It surprises me that people today have such reservations about the longevity and capabilities of the print sector. So, dismissing the myths that print is obsolete is a slight issue for use at the moment. Many believe that physical printing will be replaced with digital formats and this has resulted in reduced demand and margin pressure based on perceived value.

But are things improving?

Well, print is certainly prospering, so hopefully people will start recognising that it isn’t a dying industry. As digital marketing costs rise and the channels become busier, printing is starting to look like a remarkably good-value alternative.

Lastly, would you give us your Precision Printing highlights?

As part of Precision Printing for such a long time, there have been many stand-out moments that I cherish. Firstly, I’d say sending out 50,000 orders in just one day was a massive achievement for us. Next, receiving the UK Print Company of the Year award in 2007 was a very proud moment. After these, I’ll never forget when I was selected to be Dscoop: Global Chairman, and was delighted when we launched our “Oneflow” software as a commercial business.

Is this article written by Google’s AI?

Well not yet, but boffins in the search giant’s Google Brain division have been training artificial intelligence (AI) to write original articles based on information gleaned from web pages about particular subjects.

The Register has done a deep dive on what Google is attempting and some other initiatives in the same vein, and it’s actually pretty compelling stuff – albeit limited in its current form, which is basically Wikipedia-style articles.

In short, Google’s AI analyses what it sees as the top 10 pages on a subject (for example, ‘why do Arsenal FC keep doing stupid things on the pitch?’), then attempts to tie all the available info together into a single, hopefully readable, document.

It’s a bit hit and miss right now, but we think it’s probably got more chance of success than the so-called ‘infinite monkey’ theorem of writing Shakespeare.

Time will tell what practical real world uses the tool has (cheating at essay writing will probably be right up there).

However, we’re not not sure there’s enough time in the world to explain what’s going on at Arsenal.

3D Digital Signage – 2018’s breakout retail buying trend

3D Digital Signage is the most sought after solution by retail marketers in this year, followed by Digital Billboards and Video Walls.

The findings have been revealed ahead of the Digital Signage and Interactive Solutions Summit, which takes place in September.

Delegates registering to attend the event are asked which products and services they need to invest in during 2018 and beyond.

A significant 57% are looking to invest in 3D Digital Signage solutions, with 35.7%% sourcing Digital Billboards.

Just behind were Mobile/Interactivity (35.7%), Video Walls (35%) and Content Design & Aesthetics (29%).

“It’s no surprise that 3D Digital Signage solutions top the list of areas our delegates were most interested in,” said Digital Signage and Interactive Solutions Summit Event Manager Jessica Deluca. “But the full table provides a valuable insight into signage trends within the retail sector.”

% of delegates at the Digital Signage and Interactive Solutions Summit sourcing specific products & services (Top 10):

3D Digital Signage – 57.1%
Digital Billboards – 35.7%
Mobile/Interactivity – 35.7%
Video Walls – 35.7%
Content Design and Aesthetics – 28.6%
Menu Boards – 28.6%
Wayfinding – 28.6%
Cloud-Based Digital Signage – 21.4%
Content Management – 21.4%
Internet of Things – 21.4%

To find out more about the Digital Signage and Interactive Solutions Summit, visit

GUEST BLOG: Inbound vs outbound marketing

Brandon Miller from Lead Forensics takes a look…

Inbound marketing was once neatly described by dot com millionaire Seth Godin, as “permission marketing”. It is based on tactics that pull potential customers in to the business, rather than ones that push to get in front of them.

The easiest way to think of it, is like this – if potential buyers find a business, it’s inbound marketing. On the other hand, if a business finds the clients, it’s outbound marketing.

The reason inbound marketing is such a big deal and its use has been steadily on the rise, is the major shift that has been seen in customer behavior.

As usual, consumers were first to start changing their habits. This can be seen, for example, in the growth of social media and how it is used and the popularity of e-commerce. In the B2B world, things have been a little slower to progress but buyer behavior has also evolved. Modern buyers will head online, use social media platforms and research all sources open to them, to find the information they need.

Which has led many marketers to question whether outbound tactics are actually necessary, or should just be skipped altogether. But rather than worrying about whether an activity falls under the umbrella of inbound or outbound, it’s better to consider them both and work out which will be best for marketing your particular goods and services.

When are inbound methods most effective?

Inbound marketing methods can be summarised as:

  • Content marketing – any content you produce that is meant for potential buyers
  • SEO – used to help people find your content
  • Social media – use to help spread your content

Compared to outbound tactics, these techniques generally cost less to do. They can also be more accurately targeted, meaning they should result in a better return on investment.

A certain level of investment will still need to be made upfront, such as to fund the creation of high quality content. That doesn’t come cheap, but once created the content will become a lasting asset that can be used again and again.

Now compare this with a print ad placed in a trade magazine. Once the ad has run and the next issue is out, its impact is over.

Inbound tactics are particularly useful for businesses who:

  • have a lot of information to share
  • have lower marketing budgets (obviously, if you have bigger budgets you will profit even more)
  • are looking for higher quality leads
  • want to establish themselves as experts or thought leaders within their industry sector

Another benefit of inbound marketing, is that you can be up and running fast. It can be as simple as setting up a company blog, uploading some interesting content and sharing it via social media. Plus helping it get found on search engines with a little SEO push, or some sponsored social media posts.

The whole process isn’t particularly hard to implement and in the long run, there is a lot more you can do. For example, you could start building a database by encouraging website visitors to hand over their email address in exchange for downloading some interesting and valuable content. This information can then be used for future email marketing campaigns and the process of nurturing contacts along and turning them into prospects.

One of the biggest benefits of inbound versus outbound marketing, lies in the analytics. It is much easier and a lot more accurate to monitor and measure inbound marketing tactics. Of course, some outbound methods, such as digital ads, can also provide good stats. But in general, if an activity isn’t conducted online it is almost impossible to know with any accuracy what its impact has been.

In summary, inbound is basically a completely different way of marketing. It is about informing, educating (and sometimes just entertaining) a target audience – one you’d like to form a relationship with, stay in touch with and see returning to your content, time and time again.

Which outbound methods no longer work as well?

While print ads, billboards, banner ads, TV and radio ads, print direct-mail, email blasts, event sponsorships and big trade shows were traditionally all mainstays of a business marketing plan, they are no longer as effective as they once were.

Remember the Yellow Pages? The concept worked at the time because it was the only place where people could quickly and easily access a wide range of business details. The books no longer exist, because thanks to the internet, we don’t need them. All the information we want and more, is now available online.

People are still looking for the products and services they need, just in different places. The key challenge for marketers, is how to make them find you.

There are a couple of hybrids, which blur the boundaries between inbound and outbound marketing and can work really well if used in the right circumstances:

Pay-per-click (PPC)

Pay-per-click advertising shows ads to people browsing the web, who express a specific interest, or meet a stipulated demographic. The key to using these types of ads effectively, is to be very targeted. One issue to bear in mind however, is that it is getting more and more difficult to generate results, with tools such as ad blockers getting in the way.

Account based marketing (ABM)

Account based marketing is about pushing messages out, but in a well-researched and highly targeted way. In fact, the messages are so well targeted that the content is produced purely for the intended recipient.

It will be developed for a specific, target account and then distributed across various channels, with the aim of getting it in front of them. Again, if used intelligently this can work well, particularly when the target is a larger corporation.

How to choose between inbound and outbound

The main thing to recognize, is that the buyer journey is no longer linear and marketers need to stay on top of the new trends and developments.

We all encounter different brand messages all the time, which reach us via a variety of channels. It will take multiple touchpoints with a potential customer before a sale is made.

Start by looking at your marketing mix with an open mind, a calculator and some common sense. Use the methods that fit best with your culture, your business model and most importantly, which will attract the clients you want to work with.

When using inbound marketing tactics, you will typically work with a far smaller audience than for outbound and your success will come down to the quality of your content. It is how you will attract quality leads, who you then turn into quality customers.

Less is always more, so focus on the quality of your methods to attract the clients you really want.

To find out more about Lead Forensics, visit

UK consumers ‘demanding more detailed, personalised answers from brands’

Ninety-four per cent of UK consumers say personalised answers will make them more loyal – with 84% switching to competitors if responses disappoint, according to Eptica research.

Despite this, brands are failing to deliver the information that consumers need – 86% say they are unhappy with the responses they receive across every channel, while 70% complain that they get inconsistent answers between channels.

Those are the headline findings of the 2018 Eptica Knowledge Management Study, which found that consumers have rising expectations when it comes to getting information and answers from brands – and that companies are struggling to meet their needs:

  • 91% of consumers say they are annoyed when questions aren’t answered satisfactorily
  • 88% want greater transparency from brands
  • 75% say customer service agents don’t have the information needed to answer their queries
  • 65% have more complex, detailed questions compared to 5 years ago

“The power of knowledge has never been more important to brands, it is essential for deploying artificial intelligence and Natural Language Processing to automate customer engagement as well as to empower agents,” said Olivier Njamfa, CEO and Co-Founder at Eptica. “As our research shows, not meeting customer expectations will directly impact your bottom line. Companies need to take a holistic approach to customer service knowledge, using AI to make their knowledge work for them, ensuring that consumers get the right answers, whether via self-service, a chatbot, or even the phone.”

With websites often the first point of call for information, consumers want to be able to find answers quickly and with minimum effort. Over nine in ten (91%) become frustrated if they cannot rapidly find an answer online. 90% want to be able to find the answer without searching through multiple locations or leaving the page they are on to find it, showing the need for effective web self-service solutions. 65% of consumers say they’ll pick up the phone if they can’t get an online answer, adding to their frustration, and also increasing costs for the brand.

A full report, including the study results, graphics and best practice recommendations for brands to transform how they use knowledge within customer experience is available at