Group IMD

Highlighting best practice as a representative in The Parliamentary Review

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Group IMD is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Highlighting best practice
CEO Simon Cox
At the Group IMD and
Honeycomb offices
Calling the UK’s would-be exporters: if you can develop
a successful internet- delivered software business here,
rolling it out across the world can be easier than you think.
This is the message of Group IMD, an innovative and efficiency-
driving company that does just this. At a time when trade and
investment beyond the EU is more important than ever for the UK,
Group IMD have shown that if your proposition is innovative and
valuable, taking it to overseas territories is not as hard as some
anticipate – a topic upon which Simon Cox, their CEO, elaborates.
Our product
Our business is in over 30 markets, including: the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy,
Switzerland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Poland, Hungary, Republic of Ireland,
India, Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines, China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand,
Dubai, Turkey, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Argentina and Brazil
Group IMD’s core product, IMD Cloud, is used by the advertising and media
industries to move finished video advertisements online from the point of
production, using instructions from advertising agencies, to the media outlets –
whether broadcasters or online publishers – where they are due to air.
IMD Cloud quality-controls files that are uploaded into the platform and rejects them,
with detailed reports, if they don’t meet required specifications to be ultimately
suitable for broadcast transmission or use over the internet. Given suitable files,
IMD Cloud creates new files in the different combinations of video format, audio,
and metadata that are required by the media outlets for whichtheyaredestined.
»CEO Simon Cox
»Established in 1995
»Located in London HQ, with
offices in thirty countries
»Services: Workflow for video
advertising, from production
to media outlets
»No. of employees: 200
»Recently merged with
»There are only two companies
in the world that work across
so many international markets,
and Group IMD is one of them
Group IMD
These versions of the original ad are
then delivered over the internet to all
the media outlets.
Before online services like IMD
Cloud, video ads were duplicated
on video tape and couriered to their
destinations. This process using
physical material took far longer than
online delivery. Therefore, online
delivery gives people involved in the
creative process more time and a
greater ability to change video ads at
the last minute, an example of which
might be using a different price point
or to correct an error.
Moreover, by doing this all online, the
carbon footprint also falls compared
to tapes and couriers. Indeed, a French
authority’s study pointed to a 28-fold
Everyone involved in the online
process can log on to IMD Cloud,
play their role and see what the status
of an ad is as it goes through this
process. Previously, when ads were
moved around on video tape, this
transparency didn’t exist. Frantic phone
calls to hunt down missing ads were
a daily reality; now they are a thing of
the past.
Our performance has made us the
leader in many countries, including
Germany, Italy, India, China and Brazil.
For example, around two thirds of the
TV adverts in the UK come through
Group IMD.
How our success was achieved
It’s possible to identify several elements
of our company’s strategy and
approach to growing internationally.
For starters, we’ve always had a very
focused strategy and concentrated on
one core offering. For example, we
avoided the temptation of going into
the business of moving TV programmes
around online. This might seem like an
identical business from a distance, but
in reality the customers and technology
are considerably different.
We also took time to hire great local
staff for our business in every market
we entered. Sometimes we used
headhunters or recruiters; sometimes
we used our own network of contacts.
In any case, without great local leaders
our markets wouldn’t have developed.
All our employees have to be able to
communicate in English, but being
local means that they understand their
market and the local clients much
better. This is particularly appreciated
in markets like France and Japan.
Another factor in our success was the
winning of some major global brands
as clients, such as Unilever and L’Oréal,
which helped us open up different
markets where they wanted to enjoy
the benefits of our service.
Most of our growth was organic, but
in some markets we acquired other
similar businesses. To do this, we
needed people inside the business
who had the skill set for mergers and
acquisitions. This has now happened in
Spain, Ireland, China, India, Singapore,
New Zealand and, most recently, with
the merger with Honeycomb.
We also invested in a Latin American
business, A+V, taking a minority
shareholding, rather than attempting
to set up a business in a continent
that can be hard to navigate. We’ve
Signing a deal to buy
our competitor in China
Before online
services like IMD
Cloud, video ads
were duplicated
on video tape
and couriered to
Highlighting best practice
brought management experience,
technology and clients to A+V and
now have the option of acquiring 100
per cent of the business in the future.
We developed technology that could
scale internationally with a single
software application. Initially we had
a complex combination of software
written by us or licensed from third
parties, as well as expensive hardware.
To complete a job for a client we also
needed manual interventions. Then
we were fortunate enough to acquire
a company in Singapore that had
developed an entirely software-based
solution running in the cloud. This was
far more scalable and reliable than the
technology we had before.
Above all, though, we built a culture
with a strong set of values and hired
people who melded with the culture.
If people didn’t exhibit appropriate
behaviours, we coached them to
improve; if they didn’t, we had to let
them go.
Impact on the industry
Group IMD’s mission is to transform
video advertising workflow by
automating processes and connecting
people. We’ve done this across
30 countries, often pioneering the
transformation as a key agent of change
between advertisers and their partners –
such as production companies – and the
media outlets, principally broadcasters.
The impact of this transformation has
»a dramatic reduction in the time to
deliver ads, allowing last-minute
changes along with more time for
the creative process;
»providing a 24-hours-a-day, seven-
days-a-week capability using fully
automated software, so that no
matter how late people work, they can
deliver their ads – something especially
appreciated in different time zones;
»a key enabler for the growth of
production agencies that make
global campaigns for many countries
in one place, specifically in London,
which is the leading centre for
this sector of the industry. Once
all the ads are finished, they must
be delivered across the world,
something that IMD Cloud allows;
»removal of the carbon footprint of
tape manufacture, duplication and
»enabling the introduction of
new technologies that need fast,
automated workflow. For example,
social TV advertising from never.
no, a Manchester-based company
that automates the incorporation of
social media in TV advertising, which
then needs rapid, same-day delivery
to broadcasters. We have worked
with them in Argentina, the Czech
Republic and the UK.
International expansion often seems
daunting but if you have the right
product and people, you may find
demand all the way round the world for
what you do. This was the case for us,
and was another reason for our success.
With a radical re-brand in development
and a new focus beyond traditional
linear broadcasters, 2019 is going
to be an extraordinary year for the
company. We’re building the team,
infrastructure and technology today to
serve the digital advertising workflows
of tomorrow.
We’ve always
had a very
strategy and
on one core
Team members from
France, Italy, Germany
and Hungary

This article was sponsored by Group IMD. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.