Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

New Business Bulletin: Optimizely, The Evening Standard, Shutterstock,Inc. and more

While over two-thirds (71%) of consumers say the digital experiences they receive online are ‘targeted’ towards them, only one-third (33%) say that those experiences feel “truly personal.” That’s according to a new report, released by Optimizely, the digital experience platform (DXP) provider, which reveals brands need to further elevate their personalisation practices to create memorable, unique experiences that their customers will love. The Personalised to Personal report, based on a study of 100 UK marketing leaders, and 1,000 UK consumers, examines the maturity of personalisation and how brands are attempting to optimise their efforts in an increasingly saturated market. The problem for marketers is that so many other brands already use personalisation technologies, with 74% of marketers saying it’s hard to stand out when every competitor uses personalisation.

The Evening Standard has announced the winners of its annual Stories competition. Now in its third year, the competition gives a new generation of creators from across the UK the opportunity to tell their stories in diverse forms through written word, video or audio, and receive industry support. This year, applications were encouraged from anyone with an original story about the theme of Belonging told in a fresh and compelling way. Kelvin Hill won with his short story ‘The Gift’, about a family coming to terms with their psychic powers. The competition to discover, develop and champion nationwide talent was supported by CityLit, The Reading Agency, and management and production company 42. 1,300 entries went through two initial long-listing processes before a shortlist of 12 entries was submitted to a final judging panel. Judges selected one overall winner and two runners-up. Second place went to Elizabeth Fisher for ‘Forty Fifth for my Forty Five’, about a pop star coping with their fall from fame. Third place went to Joe Bedford for ‘Maria’, a tale of lost love. The free to enter competition encouraged entries in a variety of formats, either written as prose, as a script for any medium or performed in a two-minute audio or video, up to 1,000 words. The panel of judges was chaired by author and journalist Lotte Jeffs, and included actor & writer Paterson Joseph, writer & author Monica Ali, playwright & screenwriter Lisa McGee, poet & playwright Lemn Sissay OBE, literary manager Kate Prentice, writer & poet Eric Ngalle Charles, Head of Audio at the Evening Standard David Marsland, and bestselling author Beth O’Leary. The winning piece was performed live at the Stories Competition Winners party on Thursday 6th July at BAFTA by actor & author Paterson Joseph, and published on, as well as the winner and runners-up receiving an array of prizes to further their writing career.

Shutterstock, Inc., a global creative platform offering high-quality content and full-service creative workflow solutions for transformative brands, digital media and marketing companies, has announced the expansion of its partnership with OpenAI, a pioneer in artificial intelligence. Through a new six-year agreement, Shutterstock is set to solidify its position as a leading provider of high-quality training data for OpenAI models, propelling transformative capabilities for brands, digital media, and marketing companies. As part of this expanded collaboration, OpenAI has secured a license for access to additional Shutterstock training data including Shutterstock’s image, video and music libraries and associated metadata. Shutterstock also gains priority access to the latest OpenAI technology and will continue to leverage DALL·E’s groundbreaking generative text-to-image capabilities directly into the platform. In addition to text-to-image generation, the integration will also provide Shutterstock customers with synthetic editing capabilities, allowing them to not just create new content, but also to simply edit and transform any image in the entire Shutterstock library to accelerate ideation and production. Shutterstock and OpenAI will work in collaboration to bring generative AI capabilities to mobile users through Shutterstock’s newly acquired GIPHY platform.

UK CIOs of large global enterprises are increasing investment in technology to drive growth through global expansion in the next 12 months, according to new research announced recently by Expereo. The research of over 200 CIOs in the UK shows that half (48%) have secured increased technology budgets specifically to deliver growth and overcome existing challenges. The new insights, which are part of a global survey of over 650 CIOs in businesses with over $500 million annual revenues across Europe, US and APAC, also shows that nearly 4 in ten UK CIOs (38%) feel that their global business ambitions are constrained by legacy connectivity and management systems. It also highlights that organisations may be missing growth opportunities by failing to prioritise geographic regions with some of the world’s fastest growing economies, due to perceived complexity and challenges to market entry.

The Independent has announced a partnership with Henley Literary Festival, under which it will serve as the festival’s exclusive news partner. The partnership will see The Independent deliver exclusive insights from the festival’s lineup of thinkers to the largest quality news audience in the UK, with Independent journalists interviewing four of the festival’s biggest names live on stage: Former Prime Minister Theresa May will be in conversation with Independent political journalist Simon Walters about injustice and her new book The Abuse of Power at 10am on 30 September, novelist Sebastian Faulks will discuss his new novel The Seventh Son with The Independent’s Chief Book Critic Martin Chilton at 12pm on 30 September, Nadine White, Independent Race Correspondent, will interview Gary Younge about Dispatches from the Diaspora, a collection of his essays, at 8pm on 4 October and Captain Corelli’s Mandolin author Louis De Bernieres will share his new book Light over Liskead with The Independent’s Martin Chilton at 12pm on 8 October, a week ahead of its publication. The partnership will include further exclusive editorial content, with The Independent publishing interviews and features. Its social media channels will bring news from the festival to a wider audience, and there will also be ticket giveaways.

In the afterglow of a post-pandemic world, the future of retail is steadfastly being shaped by digital, as shoppers envision a future where nearly two-thirds (64%) of their shopping will be online in the next 10 years. Brands are closing the gap on marketplaces with online spend doubling through direct-to-consumer (D2C) channels, from 7% in 2022 to 14% in 2023, and brands should look to review their online sales models, with more than half (58%) of global shoppers saying they like to buy from branded marketplaces. According to Wunderman Thompson Commerce and Technology’s Future Shopper Report 2023, which surveyed over 31,000 consumers globally on their current and future shopping habits, online shopping continues its dominance by accounting for 58% of all spend; although we may be seeing a point of maturity, with a modest 1% increase in overall online spend compared to last year.

Representatives from West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, East of England Ambulance Service and the national Asthma and Lung charity gathered at the Churchill War Rooms in London recently to discuss how digital communications can be leveraged in different areas of healthcare delivery, promoting better patient engagement and enhanced data protection. The session, hosted by digital communications specialist Zivver, was designed to encourage an open conversation regarding transformation in healthcare services. Sarah Judge, Future System Digital Programme Lead and Deputy CIO at Global Digital Exemplar West Suffolk Hospital said: “These events are important for sharing best practice with other healthcare providers. It promotes broader thinking to ensure we are working towards standardising email security and engaging internally across different departments.” To coincide with the evening, Zivver launched its second innovation playbook for healthcare, exploring common communication problems that occur in health such as accessibility, safely sharing media and information to and from users, integrating system providers and using automation to save time.  The playbook helps clinical and non-clinical teams find their problems, consider tools that can help solve these problems and learn from good practice in other health systems. 

Nano Interactive, specialists in ID-free ad targeting solutions, has announced the launch of Intent Personas, a more accurate way to target users based on demographics using AI-led contextual advertising – without the use of cookies, user profiling or any form of personal data. Intent Personas offers accurate audience segments delivered via machine learning and verified by always up-to-date panel data. These are robust, trustworthy personas ready for targeting without the guesswork and stereotypes of the past, combining billions of data signals with verification from ‘real world’ consumer panel data to accurately target demographics such as parents, homeowners, pet owners and baby boomers.

ABBYY, a specialist in intelligent automation, and management consulting firm Doculabs have announced they formed a strategic partnership to help their clients experience a faster and more impactful intelligent automation journey. Doculabs has selected ABBYY Timeline, a leader in process mining according to Gartner, for its intuitive ‘no-code’ analysis tools that allow less technical users to install speedier implementations while offering robust power for processing a wider range of workflows and ad hoc business processes. With Timeline’s more rapid and deeper insights, Doculabs can deliver a better customer experience, automate operations, and identify the best technologies to reduce costs and empower customers to maximize their people’s potential. Furthermore, Doculabs will construct its own pre-built, best-practices based solutions on the ABBYY Timeline platform, giving them and their clients more extensive analysis and simulation capabilities than any other competing process mining solutions.  

An art student from Brighton has spoken of his pride after his “mash up” design was chosen to adorn thousands of debit Mastercards issued by the gold bullion savings app TallyMoney. TallyMoney works like a digital bank with an app, but with an important difference — the money in its everyday account represents real, physical gold rather than pounds sterling. 24-year-old James Avon, who is in his final year of a digital design BA at the University of Brighton, is one of just four international artists chosen to produce a design for the cards, which TallyMoney customers will see every time they pay for something. James, who was born and raised in Brighton and specialises in creating bold, multilayered artwork and video using digital tools, took inspiration from the gold in TallyMoney’s vault to create his winning design State of Flow.