Five questions with Mail Metro Media's Dominic Williams
Mail Metro Media's executive director of advertising explains how he turned the business into a digital first team, his strategy for the next year, and his proudest moment with the company
Since joining Mail Metro Media - the advertising home of the Daily Mail, MailOnline, Metro and i newsbrands - in 2018, you have run partnerships, clients and digital functions. How did you go about turning the business into a digital first sales team?
Shortly after I joined the business, Mail and Metro’s commercial teams were merged and we immediately set out a strategy to empower all of our sales teams to commercialise our digital brands. They are the most engaged in the UK, with users spending more than double the time on our websites than the nearest competitors’, and we have products that really work.
We have homepage takeovers which deliver impact and mass reach and perform really well, sponsored content which guarantees hundreds of thousand page views and premium video which is sound on and brand safe. These products have been adapted to each team to ensure that whatever a client’s budget, and whether you are an SME or huge UK advertiser, you can access amazing digital products to serve their needs.
Where we have experienced some of our biggest successes is with clients and partnerships where digital is a huge part of the offering – building bespoke hubs, enabling shoppable interactive ads, creating video content, recording podcasts and delivering events.
In the face of Covid-19, we have seen more clients look to digital partnerships to communicate more effectively with our audiences.
What has been your biggest challenge since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and how have you navigated it?
Keeping our teams motivated has been a challenge, but we turned it into an opportunity. Our people bring our culture and are the core reason for our success. To keep in touch while being apart, communication and connection has been even more important than ever so we were quick to invest in platforms like Zoom and Slack to ensure communications continued to be fast, agile and secure.
People’s mental and physical health is always a key priority for us too, so we immediately launched a wellbeing resource centre – shifting all of our regular fitness classes to become virtual twice a week, putting on voluntary workshops to motivate as well as certifying people to become mental health first aiders.
What is your view on diversity and inclusion and what are you doing at Mail Metro Media?
Diversity and inclusion is so important. Without a diverse commercial sales team, we will be less successful as a sales team.
We have been working very closely with Brixton Finishing School over the last two years, supporting under-represented groups of young talent breaking into the industry. We also continue to support the IPA’s Creative Pioneers apprenticeship programme and Campaign’s Female Frontiers, which shines a light on ground-breaking women in the industry. We have also deployed D&I training to all of our managers.
2021 will be a year where we make further strides on D&I and we are launching a number of exciting plans in the next few months.
What are your strategies for the next 12 months to ensure the success of the business?
Our people are undoubtedly our most important focus. We will continue to invest heavily in our staff, from how we use the office to supporting their learning and development.
And without brilliant people, we wouldn’t attract great clients, who are our key focus. We go over and above to support our clients at all times, creating the best possible opportunities and delivering innovative, creative and successful campaigns for them.
Our future is all about the innovation of our digital products – more content creation, more premium impactful formats and more ecommerce offerings. We continue to develop at a fast pace and ensure the best possible products are developed for market demand.
What have you been most proud of since joining Mail Metro Media?
During the pandemic, we launched a campaign to support small businesses in the face of adversity and gave away more than £5 million worth of free advertising across all of our platforms to SMEs. We have now also launched Mail Metro Media Ad Manager, which is a self-serve platform for these businesses to book direct digital campaigns with us. And we continue to support SMEs with our new Tide Charity campaign, recently launched by the Daily Mail to offer much needed assistance to small businesses.
We also decided not to furlough any of our team during the pandemic and this is something I’m extremely proud of. Winning Commercial Team of the Year at the Campaign Publishing Awards in June was also a particular highlight and testament to the extra miles undertaken by everyone at Mail Metro Media.
We’re ready for whatever the future has in store for us next – although I’d be quite happy with an easier year ahead if I’m honest…