25 Years in the Making: Bay Media’s Journey

Today marks a major milestone for Bay Media as we celebrate our 25th anniversary. From our humble start with three founders above an old Barclays Bank, we’ve grown into a thriving business. Our team of thirty-five employees, scaling to over 70 with subcontractors during peak season, now operates across six countries.

We’re taking the opportunity to reflect on our journey, the challenges we’ve faced, and the successes we’ve achieved along the way.

Inspiration


A successful business leader once said that building a business is like “eating glass and staring into the abyss of death.” While this may not be the most encouraging quote for aspiring entrepreneurs, it highlights the fact that nothing worthwhile comes easy. Bay Media’s story began with a big idea and a vision to bring an innovative product to a new market.

Our founder, Mark, discovered a high-quality lamppost banner product in the United States that seemed to overcome all the problems with what was available in the UK. Inspired by his childhood memory of London’s streets being transformed during Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee celebrations, Mark set out to introduce this superior product to the UK market, laying the foundation for Bay Media’s mission: to create inspirational out-of-home advertising that transforms environments in an engaging and memorable way.

Bay Media banners in front of London landmarks

Early Beginnings


In 1999, just before the dawn of a new millennium, Bay Media was born. Mark, along with two other early founders, began introducing UK local authorities to the power of lamppost banner advertising. It was a time when business communication still relied heavily on traditional methods like mailed letters and faxes, and digital tools for mapping and mock-ups weren’t nearly as advanced as they are today.

Introducing a new product to the market was no easy feat, especially when navigating the complexities of UK councils, each with their own unique concerns and plans. Despite the challenges, Bay Media secured its first major contract with the London Borough of Sutton in 2001, delivering a scheme of several hundred banners. From there, the company grew rapidly, eventually working with over two-thirds of the councils in the UK.

Karen, our longest-standing employee besides Mark, reflects on the early years: “Those were exciting times, but also challenging. We were constantly learning and adapting, trying to find the best ways to showcase the value of our product to councils. It was a lot of hard work, but seeing the impact of our banners on the streets made it all worthwhile.”

Bay Media’s old office in Camden (left) and one of our early banners for the 2002 Commonwealth Games (right)

The Heart of the Business


Central to Bay Media’s philosophy is the notion that “There is only one boss. The customer.” We’ve always understood that our success depends on striking a balance between the needs of our two primary customers: the councils and private landlords who utilise our services, and the advertisers who use our products. By ensuring that our services are efficient and profitable for the former while providing impactful and cost-effective advertising for the latter, we’ve been able to thrive in a competitive industry.

Our diverse client base spans many sectors, including events, tourism, education, councils, retail, and theatres. From global giants seeking large-scale, multi-location promotions to local independents looking to raise their profile in the community, we take pride in our ability to deliver impactful campaigns for businesses of all sizes. While our commercial sector is growing rapidly, we maintain a healthy balance between commercial and non-commercial clients, ensuring that we support the unique needs of each industry we serve.

The lamppost banner remains at the core of our business and the root of our success. The ubiquity of lamppost columns in the UK provides a solid platform for our banners, allowing advertisers to achieve both mass-market communication and targeted publicity. The flexibility of our temporary sites allows us to advertise in close proximity to locations other advertisers cannot reach, setting Bay Media apart from competitors.

Bay Media’s team has grown over time. Photo taken in our old office in Camden

Expanding Our Offerings


While the lamppost banner is at the heart of our business, Bay Media has successfully diversified its out-of-home advertising portfolio over the years. In 2010, we acquired a substantial inventory of 6 sheet posters, which has since grown to a network of over 600 panels across 9 locations in the UK. This strategic move helped reinforce our presence in the traditional out-of-home advertising market while maintaining our unique positioning on lamppost columns. The seamless integration of these 6 sheet posters into our existing service offering has been a key factor in their success, as they too utilise existing street columns, aligning neatly with our core product.

In 2013, we proudly launched AirDressing®, our award-winning large-format advertising solution designed specifically for shopping centres. AirDressing® capitalises on previously underutilised spaces within these high-footfall environments, thanks to its lightweight design and adaptable installation process. By safely installing our banners in otherwise inaccessible areas and incorporating a remote lowering and raising system, we’ve eliminated the need for cumbersome machinery and lifts during artwork changes. This approach not only streamlines the maintenance process but also opens up new opportunities for high-impact advertising in prime locations.

Bay Media’s client base is as diverse as the communities we serve. Our business spans across various sectors, including events, tourism, education, councils, retail, and theatres. While our commercial sector is growing rapidly, we maintain a healthy balance between commercial and non-commercial clients, ensuring that we continue to support the unique needs of each industry we work with.

Bay Media’s 6 sheet posters (left), and one of our AirDressing billboard displays (right)

Research, Innovations, and Quality Assurance


As we expanded our product offerings, we also remained committed to ongoing research and innovation to ensure the highest quality and performance across all our advertising solutions. This has resulted in multiple patents across our products, highlighting our dedication to pushing the boundaries of out-of-home advertising.

One of our key innovations has been the refinement of our core StormSpill® product. By drawing on sail-making technology and using the highest quality materials and processes, we’ve created a stronger, more durable, and recyclable banner that can withstand harsh weather conditions, including winter storms.

Additionally, our structural research enables us to test columns and ensure their stability, providing our clients with peace of mind and reliable advertising solutions.

Our commitment to innovation extends beyond our physical products. Proofrock, our proprietary phone app, streamlines communication with customers regarding campaign delivery. This tool brings an unprecedented level of trust and reliability to our advertising services, allowing us to provide time-stamped and geotagged proof-of-posting photos and reports to our clients.

Overcoming Challenges and Adapting to Change


Throughout Bay Media’s 25-year history, we have faced and overcome various challenges.

The global financial crisis brought both opportunities and difficulties, as local authorities and central government felt the squeeze. We adapted by shifting our focus from council communications to revenue generation from commercial advertising, broadening our approach and allowing us to provide a boost to local communities. We now generate £1 million of revenue for local councils each year.

More recently, the pandemic presented another defining moment for our business. We proved our resilience by adapting to incredibly demanding pressures, adopting more flexible working practices that have redefined the way we do business. The use of video-conferencing has improved efficiency for both us and our clients while reducing our carbon footprint.

Our lamppost banners were used during the coronation of Charles III and Camilla

Major Highlights


Bay Media has had the honour of contributing to some of the most significant events in the UK and beyond. Our lamppost banners have been present at major sporting events like the London 2012 Olympics and multiple Commonwealth Games, as well as cultural and societal milestones such as the Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla, many Pride festivals, and the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference. These diverse projects have showcased the versatility and impact of lamppost banner advertising in cities across the nation.

Ieuan, our Managing Director, reflects on the impact of these events: “Being a part of these major events has not only driven significant work for our company but has also allowed us to showcase the transformative power of our products on a grand scale. The London 2012 Olympics, in particular, was a defining moment for Bay Media, with thousands of our banners helping to create a memorable and vibrant atmosphere across the country.”

Expansion, Sustainability, and Future Vision


As Bay Media has grown, we’ve expanded our reach beyond the UK. In 2016, we launched Bay Media France, our wholly-owned subsidiary, which has made steady progress in a market that presents unique challenges and opportunities. In France, the focus is primarily on local authority messaging and events, and our durable banners have made us the go-to choice for ski resorts, where they withstand the harsh weather conditions with ease. We have been busy in recent months preparing and installing thousands of sets of infrastructure for upcoming French campaigns. Most recently, we’ve been expanding within the German market, with our banners being installed around Munich city centre to create a welcoming atmosphere for visitors during the Euro 2024 tournament.

Closer to home, we’ve established a new permanent base in central London with the purchase of a property on Bermondsey Street. This move reflects our commitment to investing in our future and providing the best possible service to our clients.

Sustainability has become an increasingly important focus for Bay Media. Through our Bay Forest Project, we’ve planted over 3,000 broadleaf trees in the UK since 2021, working in partnership with The Future Forest Company. We’ve also recently achieved accreditation under the Planet Mark program, demonstrating our dedication to reducing our environmental impact and working towards net-zero goals.

Mark, our founder, shares his thoughts on the future: “As we look ahead to the next 25 years, we remain committed to adapting to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. By strengthening our products, processes, and relationships, we aim to continue delivering exceptional results for our clients while minimising our impact on the environment. The upcoming UK general election may bring uncertainty, but we’re prepared for every eventuality and excited about the future of Bay Media.”

We moved into our new office near London Bridge in 2023

Looking Ahead

As we celebrate our 25th anniversary, we’re proud of the path we’ve taken and the lessons we’ve learned along the way. Starting from humble beginnings, we’ve grown into a leading out-of-home advertising company while staying true to our core values of innovation, quality, and customer service.

We’re excited about the future and the opportunities it holds for Bay Media. With a strong foundation, a talented team, and a vision for sustainable growth, we’re confident in our ability to continue delivering exceptional results for our clients and partners.

If you’re interested in learning more about Bay Media and how our out-of-home advertising solutions can help your business, we invite you to explore our services on our website.

Connect with us on Linkedin or X to stay up-to-date with our latest projects, insights, and achievements.

Here’s to the next 25 years of transforming environments and driving success for our clients!

As the leading provider of lamppost banner advertising in the UK, Bay Media delivers a variety of out-of-home advertising solutions, including striking illuminated roadside posters and premium large-format banners in shopping centres.

Contact us to learn how we can help you leave a lasting impression.