NextM UK 2024: Key Insights

On 21st February 2024, GroupM hosted its inaugural UK event, NextM. Bringing together key partners and clients across GroupM, we explored what’s in store for 2024 and how we can collectively work together to shape the next era of media. Our stimulating sessions looked at the relationship between purpose and performance, opportunities for growth and change, and more. This article analyses the takeaways across the entire day. 

In an era defined by rapid technological advancements and shifting consumer behaviours, the media industry is at the forefront of this continual transformation. At NextM UK 2024, we took the opportunity to delve into some of the most pressing topics that are shaping the future of our industry, exploring the symbiotic relationship between purpose and performance in advertising.

In curated sessions led by industry experts, we dissected how impactful advertising can not only drive growth but also contribute positively to consumers, society, and our planet.

NextM was not just an event, but an opportunity for collaboration and knowledge sharing. It provided industry leaders with an exciting opportunity to come together, exchange insights and collectively shape the future of media, to move into 2024 with the right tools needed to navigate in an ever-changing market.

NextM UK 2024

Artificial Intelligence
The morning sessions focused on AI and began with a talk from Dr. Suzanne Livingston on ‘Meeting Intelligence with Intelligence’. She explored the diverse opportunities that AI offers, delving into the philosophical, ethical, and creative dimension that challenge our relationship with technology – and how this can be for the better. Dr. Suzanne urged a mindset rooted in curiosity, discovery, imagination, and purpose, challenging our fear of AI and advocating for a collaborative relationship with machines – “‘We are beginning to shift our mindset and viewpoint from feeling defensive as humans to embracing non-human identities”.

The subsequent ‘Big AI Debate’ panel was moderated by Zuzanna Gierlinkska, (Chief Solutions Officer, GroupM Nexus UK) and featured Evan Hanlon (Global CEO, Choreograph), Daniel Hulme (Chief AI Officer, WPP), Becky Power (Creative Director, Mindshare UK), and Irin Rahman (Chief Data and Technology Officer, Wavemaker UK). The panel collectively viewed AI as an enabler, emphasising its role in content creation, analytics, and audience engagement. They also agreed on the need for AI to enhance human capabilities rather than replace them, which will allow agencies to focus on creativity. 

Concluding the AI panels, London-based artist Jake Elwes discussed ‘Queering AI,’ exploring the injection of poetry and art into AI systems and the ethical considerations this brings to light. Elwes’ discussion concluded with an awe-inspiring screening of ‘Zizi and Me,’ a satirical performance featuring themselves and Zizi, an AI drag queen.

The ‘Big AI’ debate panel


Creators and Communities
Shifting to the theme of creators and communities, ‘The Voice of Our Generation is a Roar’ featured Kelly Parker (CEO, Wavemaker UK) interviewing Debbie Hewitt, Chair of the FA and prominent figure at Visa Europe. As the first female FA chair and with a background in senior business leadership, Debbie discussed the parallels between the worlds of business and sport, and how she is able to bring a unique perspective to football’s challenges. 

Emphasising its broad appeal, she explained how football can be an ideal tool for brands to connect with consumers.

Another session, ‘Building Trust with Creators,’ hosted by Hannah Pether, Group Account Director at Goat, explored how brands can leverage communities to drive sales and make a positive impact. Hannah interviewed content creators Tasha Ghouri and Stephanie Yeboah as well as Goat’s Ellie Hooper and Purple Goat’s Dom Hyams, delving into the intersection between brands and communities and the vital role creators can play in building trust with diverse communities. Tasha and Stephanie reflected on the importance of finding your niche and creating raw, authentic content and Dom stressed the massive opportunity in the ‘purple pound’ for brands.

Dom Hyams (Global Client Director at Purple Goat) and Tasha Ghouri (TV personality, activist and social medial Influencer) on the ‘Building trust with creators’ panel


Predictions and Trends
Throughout the day, predictions and trends were a recurring theme in many of the sessions. In particular, in the ‘Future of Retail and Commerce,’ session, Mary Portas OBE, renowned as “Mary Queen of Shops,” shared insights into the changing retail landscape. She highlighted the influence of financial considerations on creative brands and suggested exploring new retail models, including the growing importance of second-hand markets and innovative approaches. She also emphasised the significance of joy and human experiences in retail. 

Additionally, the “Consumer Provocations for 2024” session featured GroupM speakers, including Geoff de Burca (Chief Strategy Officer at EssenceMediacom UK), Sophie Harding (Head of Futures and Innovation at Mindshare UK), Monica Majumdar (Head of Strategy at Wavemaker UK), Shula Sinclair (Chief Strategy Officer at mSix&Partners), and David Wilding (Chief Strategy Officer at EssenceMediacomX), each discussing emerging consumer trends. 

Sophie questioned the concept of a singular “year of everything,” Geoff emphasised the opportunity within retail search and SEO, Monica suggested marketers acknowledge their blind spots for the over 45 audience and rethink how this may impact media plans, David highlighted the rise in media consumption, and Shula discussed the resurgence of “awe” in advertising, with a focus on creating compelling experiences for brand persuasion. Collectively, these sessions prompted a call for strategic thinking and innovation in response to the anticipated evolution of consumer behaviour.

Katie Baron (journalist, author and editor) in conversation with Mary Portas OBE

Thoughts from our special guest speakers

In addition to these highlighted themes, NextM UK 2024 featured other notable guest speakers, including Lemn Sissay, who delivered a reading from his acclaimed poetry work, ‘Let the Light Pour In.’ The session on ‘The Choices We Make,’ led by Dan Bennett, Ogilvy, also provided an overview of behavioural science and its creative applications. Dan discussed the prevalence of System 1 and System 2 thinking, and explored various levers in behavioural science, drawing on examples like KFC’s $1 chips campaign. Further, the session on ‘Recentering Our Collective Humanity,’ delivered by Seyi Akiwowo, explored the need to centre humanity in leadership. Seyi shared experiences of burnout and the crucial role of emotional engagement in leadership, offering insights around encouraging a heart-centred approach, the acknowledgment of one’s humanity, and the cultivation of an honest collective.

Lemn Sissay OBE


Key takeaways

As we reflect on NextM UK 2024, we are reminded of our responsibility to drive positive change. We should all commit to leveraging technology, embracing authentic connections, and fostering strategic thinking to create a media industry that is both innovative and socially responsible. Together, we can shape a future where media experiences are truly transformative, inclusive, and purpose-driven. 

  • Don’t be afraid of AI
  • Prioritise authenticity within communities 
  • Have an open mind to new innovative approaches


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Amanda Stocking
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