Imagine having your very own personal assistant that suggests which websites and products will be perfect for you. That is what Artificial Intelligence (AI) attempts to achieve. It wants to feed you the right links and advertisements by taking your interests and activities into account and use this information to make your advertising more relevant to you. They do this by serving you advertisements relating to a product you recently searched for, or from a website you recently visited.

AI- ‘The extension of the brain’

AI is an area of computer science that involves the creation of machines with human intelligence, this means they work and react like humans. This includes learning information, reasoning, which is using rules to reach conclusions, and self-correction, which is where they figure out their mistakes.

Some examples of AI in digital marketing are recommendations, content curation, dynamic pricing, ad targeting, computer vision and many others. These terms basically mean that the computer system completes tasks that humans find simple; they do this for humans so that we can maximise our time and focus it on more important things.

Recent statistics from Techgrabyte explain why more and more companies are using digital marketing to promote themselves. They state that, “[AI] is the biggest commercial opportunity for companies, industries, and nations over the next few decades and will increase global GDP by up to 14 [per cent] between 2019 and 2030.”

A current trend in AI is ‘Chat Bots’, which use instant messaging to chat with people in real-time. An example of this is National Geographic’s promotion of their new series about Albert Einstein, ‘Genius’. You can chat and crack jokes with the famous physicist on Facebook messenger and whilst being amused, you will also be fed information about physics and the upcoming release of his new show. This is an inventive way to engage audiences and get them interested in the show, by appealing to their interests and building upon them to make them more interested to see the show.

Another case of AI being used in digital marketing is the use of speech recognition. This is where a computer is capable of understanding and responding to human speech, similar to Apple’s personal assistant, ‘Siri’. A large marketing scheme which shows this technology is Snapchat and Warner Brothers during their promotion of ‘Shazam’. Snapchat announced they would release a filter that would be ‘speech activated’, meaning users could trigger augmentations with their own voice. Snapchat is an industry-leading example of AI marketing strategies. The company earned over $281 million in 2017 from just ad revenue, which is an increase of 74% from the previous year according to Forbes. Therefore, a fitting match for anyone who wants to promote on a major scale.

One of the most beneficial features of AI in digital marketing is data analysis. Nowadays, instead of taking a stab in the dark and guessing your audience, AI can easily use statistical analysis to accurately reach a target audience. Targeting and personalisation company DemandBase found that it could use AI to filter out companies from its list of prospects that would ultimately lose the company money in the long run.

Overall, AI will make the world of marketing easier for by saving precious time and money and will make the job more comfortable and simplified for members of the marketing industry. Furthermore, as the technology evolves, the techniques that are used evolve alongside it, which will mean that AI will become even more useful as time goes on.

We kick-started Liverpool’s 2019 Pride season with a celebration of the city region’s thriving LGBTQ+ business community.

On Thursday 25th July, over 150 business leaders joined Agent and partners, including MSB Solicitors and DWF, at the company’s Baltic Triangle headquarters for the first ever Pride Connect.

Whilst LGBT visibility in business and in the workplace is improving, there is still a long way to go. The latest survey of over 5,000 LGBT people from national charity, Stonewall* found that one in five respondents have been the target of negative comments due to their sexuality at work, and that more than a third have hidden their sexuality in the workplace due to fear of discrimination.

To combat this, Pride Connect highlighted the importance of diversity and inclusion in business and celebrated everything that has been done so far to make the city region an LGBT-friendly one.

Pride Connect

As a member of the LGBTQ+ community and a business leader for 13 years, Agent’s CEO, Paul Corcoran’s passion for diversity and inclusivity recently saw him selected by the Department for International Trade to join the first ever LGBTQ+ Founders’ Trade Mission in New York. As well as taking part in a number of networking events, roundtable discussions and knowledge seminars, Paul also participated in WorldPride, the largest Pride celebration ever.

Paul is also deputy-chair of Liverpool City Region’s Local Enterprise Partnership, co-chair of the Local Enterprise Partnership’s creative and digital board, vice chair of Liverpool’s Everyman and Playhouse theatres, and Policy and Evidence Centre industry champion for the creative industries.

Pride Connect

Paul Corcoran, CEO at Agent, said:

“With Pride Connect, we wanted to bring together our amazing LGBTQ+ business leaders, as well as our many allies, and celebrate the value each and every member of this community brings to Liverpool City Region.

“I’m a loud and proud member of this community and I’m delighted to say that at Agent, each and every single member of my team has the freedom to be whoever they want to be. It is so important that no matter who you are, you are able to bring your whole personality to work and I really do think that this should be a practice adopted by every single business, as not only does it result in a much happier team, it also creates a much better business.

“I’d say that even ten years ago, events like Pride Connect would be few and far between, perhaps not even happening at all, which is why I felt it was important to come together with some of the city region’s prominent businesses and broadcast the message that you can be whoever you want to be and actually be a better business person as a result.”

Pride Connect

Emma Carey, managing partner at MSB Solicitors, said:

“Pride is of course, an amazing celebration, but it is also a symbol of the ongoing struggle the LGBTQ+ community faces and the importance of standing together as one. It is so important for MSB Solicitors to support this community and events like Pride Connect, which is just one of the many ways we celebrate diversity and inclusion at our firm.”

Pride Connect was supported by MSB Solicitors, DWF Law, Frederiks, Relish Events and Catering and Beckoration.

Paul Corcoran, CEO of full-service marketing and brand agency, Agent, has been selected to join eight other LGBTQ+ business leaders on the first ever LGBTQ+ Founders’ Trade Mission to New York.

Starting on 26th June, the five days of events has been organised by The Department for International Trade (DIT) and the British Consulate in New York. The mission is the first of many LGBTQ+ events taking place in America as part of VisitBritain’s ‘Love is GREAT Britain’ campaign.

With the goal of celebrating diversity in business, as well as encouraging the acceleration of international opportunities for LGBTQ+ led businesses in the UK, Paul will be involved in a number of networking events, roundtable discussions and knowledge seminars. He will also have the opportunity to meet prominent US-based LGBTQ+ business leaders, investors and entrepreneurs.

As part of the mission he will be flying the rainbow flag for equality as he joins other UK government officials in the world’s largest Pride march, which will be taking place in New York for the first time. The WorldPride parade on 30th June will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, the protests that kick-started the fight for LGBTQ+ rights.

Other delegates selected in take part in the trade mission include Tag Warner, CEO of Gay Times, Benjamin Cohen, CEO of PinkNews and Hayley Sudbury, CEO of tech firm, WERKIN.

 

Paul Corcoran, CEO at Agent, said:

“As the only leader based in the North of England selected to take part, I am exceptionally proud to represent the very best of UK business on this world stage. It is important that as a country we are representing ourselves as leaders on the cutting edge of technology and the creative industries, and to be selected to join a delegation of mostly London-based businesses demonstrates the growth and opportunities that Liverpool and the wider city region has to offer.

“Above and beyond CEO, I also hold a number of positions, including deputy-chair for Liverpool City Region’s Local Enterprise Partnership, co-chair of the Local Enterprise Partnership’s creative and digital board, vice chair of Liverpool’s Everyman and Playhouse theatres, and Policy and Evidence Centre industry champion for the creative industries. This has allowed me to champion the vast array of developments happening across these sectors and I’m looking forward to sharing this news during my time in New York.

“Finally, being a part of this trade mission will act as an excellent showcase of the work we produce at Agent for our variety of clients, including the National Cyber Security Centre, the Cabinet Office and the Environment Agency, to name a few.”

 

Richard Turner, regional director at DIT and chair of the US Network Diversity and Inclusion Group, said:

“Every day, DIT supports British businesses looking to grow internationally. These businesses demonstrate the UK’s diverse regions, industries and communities. I am proud we are delivering DIT’s first ever LGBTQ+ trade mission and that the UK will have such an exceptional group of British businesses at WorldPride.

“This will be an invaluable experience for our delegation of LGBTQ+ leaders, as previous trade missions have seen companies successfully open New York offices, secure venture capital funding, develop new networks, and generate new US business and investment leads.”

Our CEO, Paul is joining an impressive roster of business leaders from across the country, including representatives from LEGO, The National Gallery and Ubisoft, to make up the first Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC) for the creative industries.

From advertising to video games, the UK’s creative industry is far-reaching and contributes a great deal to the economy. Because of this, the government is recognising the need for robust industrial policy and is consulting with those who know best.

As an industry champion, Paul will participate in rapid taskforce discussions, speak at panels and policy events, and provide comments on issues and developments in the industry for research purposes.

 

Speaking about this opportunity, Paul said:

“It is a great honour to be an industry champion for the first ever PEC for the creative industries. It is crucial that the government engages with a wide range of people and organisations to ensure that as a country, we are growing this sector combatting any issues head on.”

 

As well as contributing to this PEC, Paul is also deputy-chair for Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), co-chair of the LEP’s creative and digital board, and vice chair of Liverpool’s Everyman and Playhouse theatres.

To learn more about the PEC and see a full list of those are participating, please visit https://www.pec.ac.uk/blog/introducing-the-pecs-network-of-industry-champions.

A consortium consisting of leading construction businesses Morgan Sindall Construction, Curtins, Faithful+Gould, Ryder Architecture and Regenda Group is collaborating with Agent Academy CIC to create new employment opportunities for young people across Liverpool City Region. With five years’ experience of securing jobs for young people in the creative and digital sector, creating £2.5 million in annual salaries, Agent Academy will work with the consortium to understand what can be done to encourage more young people to consider careers in construction.

During the three-month project a group of 12 young people will be challenged with finding solutions to the construction sector skills shortage. They will learn from experts in both built environment and marketing, engage in research with other young people from diverse social backgrounds and use the insights they gain to come up with answers to their unique challenge. Every Agent Academy programme is underpinned with a client challenge enabling the young people to put their learning into practice. During this programme, the programme participants will meet with over 40 city leaders as well as hundreds of other young people to bring about their client recommendations.

Recent CITB research shows that there is significant room for improvement regarding young people’s perception of the construction industry as a career option, with it scoring 4.2 out of 10 among 14 to 19 year olds. The research showed that young people’s understanding of what a career in the construction industry entails is based on outdated stereotypes and differs greatly from the reality.

 

Sue Patterson, senior business development manager at Morgan Sindall Construction in the North West, said:

“We regularly visit local schools and run jobs fairs, and often find that many young people are completely unaware of the great variety of career opportunities available in the sector. As an industry, it’s our responsibility to demonstrate the wide variety of fulfilling roles that construction has to offer.

“In order to make construction more sustainable for the future and to boost employment opportunities in the communities in which we work, it’s critical that we demonstrate the great number of careers available to all young people and attract a more diverse workforce in to the sector.

“The work we are undertaking with Agent Academy enables us to take a completely fresh approach to this complex issue by having young people engage with their peers to consider solutions on how to best promote the many fantastic careers that our industry has to offer.”

 

Zoe Wallace, director at Agent Academy, said:

“Agent Academy has a track record tackling the talent challenge faced by the creative and digital industry by giving young people the opportunity to upskill and then kick-start their careers. We hope that this experience together with the insight from our students will give a fresh perspective to how the construction sector can tackle talent issues.

“The young people on this programme will come up with the answers that many construction industry businesses are looking for. 95% of the young people we work with gain full-time industry employment after completing the programme so it’s a win-win for everyone involved.

“We have a lot to look forward to, despite the skills challenges faced by our region’s employers there are so many opportunities and by coming up with new ways to engage the regions young people and motivate them we can make sure they are ready to take on the careers of the future.”

 

Ged McNicholl, regional director, Faithful+Gould, added:

“The opportunities in the construction industry are vast. Diversity in the industry is a challenge, but through the research from this project we are determined to change this to make a career in the construction industry appealing to all.

“We are all taking a collaborative and forward-looking approach to solving the challenges faced by the sector and I believe the next generation can play a big part in this, particularly when it comes to bringing new technology and more digital ways of working into the industry.”

Full-service marketing firm, Agent, has announced the appointment of four new recruits across the agency to support the team on its growth journey.

Teleri Davies joins the team as partnerships manager, having worked for Downtown in Business for two and a half years. Working alongside Agent’s head of partnerships, James Shaw, Teleri brings with her a huge amount of experience and knowledge of the local business arena to support the agency’s upward trajectory.

Joining the strategy team as strategic marketing assistant is previous Agent Academy alumni, Ben Demba. Having shown a huge amount of his promise during his time with Agent Academy, Ben now sees himself in a full-time role, supporting Agent’s wider strategy team to provide clients with in-depth consultancy and guidance.

James Smith joins the creative team as junior designer, further strengthening the team’s design capabilities following a bumper year, seeing the agency work with national and international brands, including the National Cyber Security Centre, the Forestry Commission, Yodel and Peel Land and Property, to name a few.

Also joining the team is Ellie Jennings. Ellie’s appointment comes as a direct result of the recent success of the Academy, having seen nearly 100 individuals achieve full-time employment to date. As Agent Academy programme assistant, Ellie is responsible for supporting the team with the smooth-running of the programme, helping to continue its success.

 

Agent’s CEO, Paul Corcoran, said:

“Our team has continued to grow over the past year, which is testament to the work that we are producing for our clients across all of our departments.

“We are an agency with people at our heart, so I am delighted to have so many talented and passionate individuals join our ever-growing team.

“It’s an incredibly exciting time for us as an agency and more than ever, we are working with clients not just nationally but internationally, who are coming to us to us for our full-service approach. I look forward to seeing what the next year has in store – watch this space!”

Ben Demba, strategic marketing assistant, Agent

Only 10.9 per cent of creative vacancies are filled by black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) candidates. This is not just failing our talent stream or our workplace, this is failing our clients.

As an industry, how can we effectively communicate with a public from whom our recruitment practices are making us more remote? Diversity isn’t just a tick-box exercise; for those of us in the business of insight and creativity, it’s a necessary means of bringing in a plurality of new ideas and understanding.

BIMA, the industry body for the digital industry, recognised the need for action and earlier this year facilitated a diversity and inclusion panel, which I was a part of. As a young mixed-race person who has taken an alternative route into the industry, here I share my take on the challenges we face and what needs to be done to increase the diversity of our talent streams.

The problems

Socio-economic factors that influence career choices disproportionately affect minorities. Our industry has relatively high start-up costs; the equipment and software needed to build skills is expensive. Being able to afford this gets you a head start while those from lower income backgrounds may not get a start at all.

A lack of role models. Bright kids are encouraged to do well, but if parents and teachers are not familiar with success in our industry and if role models are not there to provide these examples, talent will be pushed down alternative routes. Such is the demographic make-up of our industry that people from minorities are significantly less likely to have an auntie, cousin or sibling in our field to act as a model of success.

The way we hire and give opportunities is flawed. All hiring processes suffer from affinity bias, but in our industry, it seems to have been made institutional. People in creative employment are 50 per cent more likely to have a parent working in the same industry; when an opportunity for work experience or an internship comes up, how often does it go to the child of a colleague or client? Similarly, the process of unpaid internships means that opportunities are more available and achievable for those who can afford it.

So, what we can do about it?

Some of the work needs to be done in schools. They must address how they can provide opportunities to help students find their passion and facilitate their development regardless of their background. What we are trying to do is level the playing field, and access to equipment, software and good quality careers advice can help achieve this.

Learning in a digital-first school in the Baltic Triangle was key to my career decisions. Speakers from local digital and creative businesses demonstrated what I could achieve, industry-standard software and equipment gave the opportunity to try new things and opened up pathways that I was unaware of at my previous comprehensive.

As an industry, as companies and individually as leaders, how can we support this? What can you do in your community? Are you visiting schools, reaching out to young people, making just a small fraction of your time available as a mentor or source of industry knowledge? One thought sparked in someone’s mind can go on to kindle career aspirations and influence decisions.

How inclusive is your company?

Not taking action is accepting the status quo. Sometimes, you need to start with a difficult discussion. There is so much scrutiny around what is and isn’t politically correct in the media; this has created a paranoia that can stifle the conversation around diversity and inclusion. People would rather stay silent than say the wrong thing, but if the conversation isn’t being had then how can we start a process of change?

In 2014, Agent set up the Academy to tackle the skills gap and improve access to our industry in the North. Working through a live client project guided by insight from top agencies, Agent Academy gives young people from all backgrounds a step up into the digital and creative industries. It selects participants based on alternative criteria; soft skills that can be developed and competencies suited to the industry, which opens up opportunities to all, regardless of experience, qualifications or connections.

I progressed from Agent Academy into a full-time role at Agent. The programme gave me the tools and knowledge I that needed to apply my skills in real world scenarios. The Academy is about positive action to take away institutional barriers, and level out the playing field to plug our skills gap with a diverse range of talent.

More models like Agent Academy have the power to significantly increase the scale of this success, and help to create a digital and creative industry that fosters inclusivity and celebrates diversity. In a sector facing skills shortages, the incentives for industry to remove its barriers have never been greater. The onus is now on our current leaders to ensure that pathways to future leadership are open to all, creating an industry in which everyone has the opportunity to thrive.

 

 

 

What we learned from MIPIM 2019

MIPIM is a week-long real estate and construction industry conference held every year at Cannes in the south of France. It is where you will find the who’s who of the property development world showcasing their exciting projects and discussing the future of the industry, with the picturesque scenery of the French Riviera serving as a fitting backdrop.

This year, our CEO, Paul and head of partnerships, Jay attended the conference alongside the delegation from Liverpool, to learn more about the developments happening in the city region, the North West and beyond.

For Paul, who is deputy chair of Liverpool’s Local Enterprise Partnership board, this is a crucial week for setting the agenda for Liverpool City Region’s aspirations and potential for investment and growth. We’re also proud to say that as an agency, we’ve been involved in many of the projects that were announced and showcased at MIPIM 2019.

So, here’s what they found…

 

  1. Liverpool Waters is going from strength to strength

Peel Land and Property held a number of events attended by investors and developers from around the world to provide updates on both the Liverpool Waters and Wirral Waters schemes.

The two main events consisted of presentations followed by an informal lunch, where our client, Liverpool Waters’ development director, Darran Lawless, provided a project update to the packed-out room and further explained just how far the scheme has progressed since gaining planning permission in 2006. With multiple projects live on site, further planning agreed and contractors in place to kick-start multiple schemes, the momentum of Liverpool Waters doesn’t look like it will slow down any time soon.

The event certainly got people talking and attracted international attention, which is what MIPIM is all about. Coupled with the exciting updates from Everton Football Club regarding their plans for a new world-class stadium situated within Liverpool Waters, it’s safe to say this year’s MIPIM was a great year for the team at Liverpool Waters with plenty more announcements to come soon

 

  1. Upper Central will create jobs and transform part of the city centre

A brand-new district in Liverpool’s city centre called Upper Central will create thousands of jobs and completely regenerate a key area in the city centre. The new district, located around the Adelphi Hotel and old Lewis’s building, encompassing Lime Street, Mount Pleasant and Renshaw Street, will provide the opportunity to build brand new residential, commercial and leisure sites, as well as refurbish old ones.

This is a project that is particularly important to us, as we have worked closely with Liverpool City Council and a number of partners and stakeholders to develop the Upper Central name, identity and other resources to help promote the place-making project. This will be an incredibly exciting development for everyone living and working in the city region.

 

  1. The Gay Games could be coming to Liverpool

Rainbow flags at the ready! Liverpool is bidding to host the Gay Games in 2026 as part of its aim to make Liverpool the most LGBT+ friendly city in the UK. With the opportunity to bring 10,000 athletes, as well as tens of thousands of spectators to Liverpool for this event, this would be an unmissable opportunity to showcase the city region as an exciting and thriving area, with inclusivity as its core.

 

  1. New rail station will connect with HS2

Announced by Metro Mayor, Steve Rotheram at the conference, this new railway station will allow for a high-speed line to connect to the wider HS2 network, which will link London, the West Midlands, Leeds and Manchester. With this new station and high-speed line, there will be a significant reduction in the time it would take to travel from Liverpool to Manchester and also to London – great news for commuters and leisure-seekers alike.

This new station will also bring economic growth, up to £15 billion to be precise, as well as thousands of jobs generated. It is incredibly encouraging to see the city region making a strong commitment to these projects, as it demonstrates the clear opportunity for growth, as well as the massive investment that the city region has in store.

 

  1. Benefits for us all

The emerging theme from Liverpool’s delegation at this year’s MIPIM is that the many incredibly exciting projects, both happening now and in the future, will benefit absolutely everyone living, working and visiting the city region. The encouraging news of many large-scale projects being commissioned by Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, Liverpool City Council and many private sector organisations demonstrates a strong determination from both the public and private sector to create spaces and buildings that will benefit the majority, not a minority.

 

  1. Tom Bloxham throws a great party

The Urban Splash founder and chairman’s annual MIPIM bash is famous amongst regular attendees of the conference, taking place in his unique ‘Bubble House’ just outside of Cannes.

Guests of the party included some of the world’s leading architects, developers and even Grand Designs presenter Kevin McLeod. Starting with a tour of this truly remarkable piece of architecture, the party goes well on into the night with BBQ food, live music and the odd cannonball into one of his two infinity pools. Thank you Tom for the invite, Paul and Jay thoroughly enjoyed it.

 

  1. What happens in MIPIM stays in MIPIM

Anyone who has ever attended MIPIM knows just how much work you need to put in to see results. It’s safe to say both Paul and Jay worked their socks off, however we also know most successes come from events that happened away from the Palais, where conversations developed over a drink or two (or three!).

Based on how tired they were when they returned, we know it’s going to take a good week to get over MIPIM, but hey ho, plans for next year can begin after then…

 

Paul appointed as LEP Deputy Chair

We have some exciting news…

Our CEO, Paul has been appointed as the new deputy chair for the Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

The LEP works closely with Liverpool City Region Combined Authority to deliver the Growth Strategy for the city region, providing strategic advice and guidance on economic development priorities.

Having been on the LEP board since 2017, in this new role, Paul will work alongside chair Asif Hamid to drive Liverpool City Region forward in all aspects of economic growth, from talent and skills, to digital infrastructure, diversity and energy.

Paul said:

“This is an incredibly exciting time for our city region, with some fantastic developments happening across a vast array of industries and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.

“I look forward to continuing to fly the flag for Liverpool, using insight to bring to the board the voice of the private sector, helping to inform strategic decisions, which will communicate and build on the wealth of opportunities available for everyone who lives and works in the city region.”

 

We were honoured to have the Royal couple visit our home in The Baltic Triangle this week, with dozens of people crowding the streets to greet HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, as she made her way onto Jamaica Street.

The Duchess was first introduced to street artist Paul Curtis whose famous ‘Wings’ mural has become a must-see for anyone visiting Liverpool. Along with a brief chat, HRH also grabbed a snap with the famous wings.

HRH The Duchess of Cornwall with wings

Our CEO, Paul, was introduced to the Duchess and had the opportunity to give her an overview of the work that we are doing across the Liverpool City Region, as well as introducing her to some of the team.

We caught up with our office manager and executive assistant to the chief executive, George, to find out what he thought of his first meeting with Royalty:

“It was an incredible experience, I’ve never met a member of the royal family before. It was a great opportunity to inform Camilla of the wonderful work we are doing at Agent both for our clients and the wider city region.”

You may be thinking, why did Camilla want to speak to Agent? Specifically, she wanted to find out more about the wonderful work our Agent Academy team does to develop talent in the region.

Agent Academy is an industry-led, intense and effective leadership development programme. Established as a solution to the issue faced by 16-25-year-olds who find themselves, post-higher education, without the skills to begin their careers in the creative and digital industries.

The Academy has achieved a lot. So far there have been nine cohorts, £2.2 million of annual salaries secured and 95% those who have been through the programme are now in full-time, digital industry employment.

We are so proud of the work we do and the progress we continue to make so we grab any opportunity that we get to share it with others with both hands. It was a pleasure to meet Camilla and be recognised for the impact we continue to have on the Liverpool City Region. I wonder who we’ll meet next?!