My Media Week: Piers North
A view from Hayley Hayes

My Media Week: Piers North

A week in the life of Piers North, strategy director at Trinity Mirror Solutions, where the acquisition of Local World last year has instilled a...

Monday

Awake to apocalyptic rain, looks like it will be a painful commute. The darkness en route is lit by my screen flaring with news over David Bowie's passing, but such is the social mistrust that it takes a good few minutes to be confirmed. Don't feel as touched as many of my friends and peers, like to think this is because I am too young, but probably an indication that I was as uncool as a 10-year-old as I am now. My cassette case had more T'Pau and Belinda Carlisle than Bowie.

Day starts with a breakfast with Anthony White from LiveIntent. In Trinity Mirror's remarkable digital transformation over the past 18 months, monetisation of our hundreds of thousands of email subscribers has been neglected and we are now working with LiveIntent to change that in 2016.

Back to the office to meet with Rezonence. We have been working with Prash Naidu and team on their FreeWall product, which could be a small step towards better ad experiences, ROI and improved CPMs, so the theory of a win-win. Conversation centres on how we can enable the solution programmatically.

Following that meeting there is our fortnightly digital gathering of senior stakeholders on the Mirror.co.uk, which remains the biggest of our 111 online brands.

Afternoon is a chance to catch up on emails and finalise a presentation for later in the week, before heading home promptly to take my eldest daughter to rehearsals for a local production of Annie. Expecting thanks for the taxi service in her Tony acceptance speech.

Tuesday

Early start for our weekly Trinity Mirror Solutions management meeting and a chance to review our sales status. Good update from Andy Whelan, group trading director, on the success of our print packages, including Big City which has had great traction in the market.

Sales packages are a key priority for us this year. Trinity Mirror has a unique national, regional, and digital footprint and making the value obvious and easy to buy for our customers is a key opportunity.

Mark Field, invention director, also updates on the incredibly promising pipeline for our creative solutions division, Invention, which had such a strong 2015 and is another key strategic priority this year.

Then, into meetings with my reports to catch up and discuss any pressing issues. One area that is of most interest is how we accelerate our shift to in-stream, native advertising. Getting that right with the right platforms and partners remains a big project.

Follow that with a meeting with Brian Jacobs from Enreach for an interesting segmentation and optimisation tool, then I have a meeting with Mike Shaw and James Cameron from comScore to talk about their pre-bidder efforts.

Clearly surfacing our inventory, with good viewability on professionally curated products in the sea of programmatic is critical, so we listen intently. Close the day with a good catch up with a new team member coming over from our recent Local World acquisition, understanding her business and learning about her team.

Head home for a supposedly relaxed evening and hoping to hear Crystal Palace record a convincing win over bottom club Aston Villa. We lose. Only Palace fans will understand the sense of tortuous inevitability about that result.

Wednesday

Today is a gathering of the top 200 leaders from across the UK at Trinity Mirror for a one-day conference. Our stellar events team put on a cracking show at the Landmark Hotel. Great to see so many people from different parts of the business coming together.

I work hard to avoid mentioning football with our editor-in-chief and Villa fan, Lloyd Embley.

Simon Fox, our chief executive, kicks things off and sets out the opportunities and priorities for the year although there is palpable disappointment in the room as he doesn’t do his usual magic trick! He promises it will be back next year.

Rachel Addison, formerly of Local World, who now heads our regional division, gives a very good background on their business. The bringing together of these businesses has really energised people here, especially in digital where the combination of resources, data, knowledge and a near 30m UK audience base means I am hugely excited about the year ahead.

I do a quick turn on stage talking about the priorities in digital and the lessons we need to learn from the platform giants. Seems to go ok.

In the evening, comedian Rory Bremner hosts a great company awards ceremony and I’m delighted to see recognition for our recent Invention work, including our cross-platform partnership with Boots, named as Sales Campaign of the Year.

However, most moving was a standing ovation for Photographer of the Year, Philip Coburn, who continues to produce work of the highest quality despite his life changing injuries following an IED explosion in Afghanistan in 2009.

His tribute to Rupert Hamer, the Sunday Mirror defence correspondent killed in that attack, was a touching moment and a reminder of how much of a privilege it is to work in a proud news organisation and that for all the apparent pressures of media and digital advertising, we have it easy.

Thursday

Commute allows me to listen to my favourite podcast, the Five Year Plan Palace fanzine with comedian Kevin Day and Mirror contributor Jim Daly. It is a cathartic experience reflecting on Tuesday night.

As I walk on to the floor, I am grateful for my relatively sensible exit last night – there are some sore heads around.

Have a meeting with the ad product team, always a lively session with debate from all sides but good to see our strategy around ad blocking is on track amongst other things. My lunch is cancelled which means an unplanned free afternoon to catch up on emails and tasks.

Friday

Friday morning starts with a catch up around the Mirror tablet edition. The free, ad supported weekday edition has well over 70,000 daily readers who love the simplicity and clarity of the product. Since we refreshed the positioning of it last year it seems to be getting the right traction and valuation within the market. A meeting with Simon Fox around video is a chance to reflect on our meteoric success in this space, but of course we’re always looking for more ideas and partners.

I arrive late for a meeting with ad tech business Operative and Barnaby Edwards who is over from New York.

Fortunately my much better informed colleagues Jenny Thomson and Andy Overall have taken over the meeting anyway and we then break for lunch. Always interesting to hear industry perspectives, especially from the US.

Navigating the ad tech maze remains the biggest challenge and opportunity for a media business like ours – it can drain time and resources finding the right partners, but also is too important to ignore. Head back for a long overdue mobile app monetisation catch up with our lead, Sam Pascoe, who has been lead on a number of trials with different partners and platforms to find the mobile answer.

En route home, I have a drink with an old Yahoo colleague who is now client side. The ex-Yahoo diaspora is massive and it is a good catch up before cracking on with the weekend.

Lowdown

Age: 40 next week ... eek
Favourite media: Digital (obvs), especially Wikipedia and Twitter
Biggest inspiration: The family
Dream job: Something near a ski slope
One thing not a lot of people know about me: Entered University Challenge but crashed out in the pre-TV rounds