As the commercial director of radio giant Global, Daniel Thompson got behind-the-scenes access to some of the world’s biggest stars.

As well as meeting the likes of Rhianna, Beyonce, One Direction, JLS and Rita Ora he got to attend private gigs with the likes of Adele and the rock band Kasabian.

However, he walked away from the red carpets and award ceremonies in 2018 to get up his own advertising agency – Freedom Media Group – to help brands better target their audiences through the use of data and technology.

It’s a decision that has paid off as Freedom Media has hit £2.5m turnover for the year to the end of March 2023 – up from £900,000 in the previous 12 months – and is set to grow to £4.2m in 2023/24.

Thompson, who spent nearly nine years as Global’s commercial director in the North, said the company is now looking to grow staff numbers from four to 10 by the end of the year.

He said: “Freedom is not your typical advertising agency. Everything we do is driven by data so it’s targeted, trackable and accountable.

“Wherever people walk, look or listen, we have routes to media to get into their ears, their eyes or onto their fingertips. By utilising custom data sets and insights we work with brands to help them find the best way to target their potential customers.”

The company has a range of platforms at its disposal including radio, podcasts, TikTok, Snapchat and billboard advertising.

Freedom Media is based in a grade 2 listed building next to the picturesque Peak Forest Canal in Marple and is made up of three core divisions spanning digital, out-of-home and audio.

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It is a completely independent media planning, buying and advertising agency, with clients including LMA, Vauxhall, Puttshack, IJ Kayes, Thames Valley Police and Hampshire Police.

Thompson began his advertising career after a near-death experience in Bali in 2002 while travelling when a terror attack killed more than 200 people.

“A good friend of mine was killed in the attack,” he recalled. “To go from such a relaxing and peaceful existence to witnessing what I did was an incredible shock.  It changed my life.”

He returned the UK and started his radio career at a Liverpool station called Juice FM before spending 14 years at Global, most recently as commercial director, working with brands including Heart FM, Smooth FM, Capital FM, Gold, LBC and Classic FM.

It was while he was there that he got to meet the superstars like Rhianna, Beyonce, One Direction and Rita Ora. “I remember Adele once did a private gig for us in the station for about seven people,” he said.

“I had the opportunity to learn from some of the best people at Global, including CEO Stephen Miron, founder Ashley Tabor-King and chief commercial officer Mike Gordon.

Daniel Thompson, managing director, Freedom Media

Daniel Thompson, managing director, Freedom Media

“However I saw an opportunity for a completely independent voice in the marketplace that could deliver truly effective campaigns, built and driven by factual data.

“I wanted to create an agency that was underpinned by technology. Freedom Media is that agency. We use a range of data sources to identify the behaviour of a customer’s target audience both in the digital and real world.

“We then activate relevant media based on that data, whether that be at home, on the move or online. We’re a full service agency, doing everything from creating the adverts, to the delivery, execution and tracking.”

Thompson said the biggest change in his career has been the growing role of data.

“Everything is content-driven and content-requested,” he explained. “Pretty much everything you consume, you ask for it.  You don’t sit in front of the TV with your tea on your knee waiting for a programme to start. At the click of a button, the content is delivered to you.

“Everything you want to watch or listen to you invite and in order to invite you, the platform has to know something about you.  We can weave advertising into that content to reach the relevant audience at the relevant time with the relevant message.

“Advertising has had to raise the bar. I launched Freedom Media to provide an ‘A’ game service to brands which might not necessarily be exposed to the capabilities of that data targeting.”

Freedom Media has worked with the likes of Ray Winstone, David Jason, Robbie Williams and Dragons’ Den star Deborah Meaden and its record growth has been achieved without receiving any investment.

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“We keep brands at the crest of the wave in terms of what’s possible with targeted and created advertising,” said Thompson.  “We simplify the process of using globally recognised faces and voices for the benefit of their brand.

“Our USP is the way in which we target consumers. Traditionally advertising agencies will take a £200k budget and decide they’re going to spend £120k on out-of-home advertising, £50k on audio and £30k on digital and put together the best campaign they can around that budget.

“We don’t work that way. We look at where the audience are, work out the best way to get to them using the various media and we allocate the budget based on what the data tells us.”

The other members of Freedom Media’s team are digital director Mathew Bowden and media executive Olivia Perkins.