Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Editor’s View: 2023 showed us again the unique value of the regions

It sounds pretty stupid to state that UK cities outside London are important to the digital media and marketing industry.

However, for the last twenty years, I’ve been in this industry, it has always been dominated by the London bubble.

This year, though, the importance of the regions has been a constant theme in conversations with people across the industry. And the need for adtech companies, in particular, to take an active, present, role in the numerous northern hubs.

Cities like Leeds, Manchester and Edinburgh have their own industry ecosystems. Welcoming but wary of companies that appear only to be taking from the region, not actively contributing to it.

When we launched our first Trinity Lunch in Manchester last year, I was struck by a comment from one attendee, who pointed out several local companies that “spend millions a year on advertising but London agencies won’t touch them.”:

There’s no doubt ecosystems like these offer incredible opportunities for those willing to make the commitment.

Hubs like Manchester have local clients, local teams at publishers, large local agencies, all connected to but totally independent from London. And, crucially, all open to new technologies and innovations that will drive value for their customers.

In fact, one MD of a programmatic tech company told me that Manchester was his choice of launch city and the openness of local agencies to trial new services was such a departure from the often impenetrable world of London-based network agencies.

It’s why the likes of DoubleVerify are increasing their focus on the regions, and why Channel Factory opened an office there not too long ago.

So, while yes, it may sound stupid to talk about the importance of the regions to the adtech industry, it has definitely been one of the themes of 2023 and looks only set to speed up in 2024.

NDA will keep playing its part by both increasing focus outside of London and bringing our wildly successful Trinity networking events to cities outside London, launching in Edinburgh in February.

In a previous life as Editor of New Media Age, I spent a lot of time visiting the industry’s regional hubs all across the UK and, hands up, I’ve been guilty in recent years of taking less attention.

Stupid of me. Some of our industry’s most exciting innovations, companies and people are to be found far from the London bubble.