One industry expert called Dennis Publishing in the UK the No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3 players in content-to-commerce in the worldwide market.
Dennis began its venture into content-to-commerce with its Buyacar acquisition in 2014. One of the benefits of that acquisition was that the content and SEO strategy applied to drive audience growth, said Pete Wootton, chief operating officer at Dennis.
When considering which verticals to go into, “we consider how competitive it is, the size of the opportunity (scale and margin), and how difficult certain production would be — reviewing washing machines is harder than hairdryers,” Wootton said.
All three are quite successful and profitable:
Buyacar brings in about 30% of the revenue for Dennis, which includes the cost of vehicles purchased from dealers.
“So whilst it is a great success and growth story, the margins are obviously much lower on car revenue than media revenue,” Wootton said. “Our content and SEO strategy has meant that Buyacar traffic has grown from 130,000 organic UK unique users per month when we bought it to 1.3 million now.”
With Buyacar, Dennis purchases the cars and sells them to consumers. The platform has its own CEO and leadership team, with Dennis’ audience development and data teams contributing to strategy and analysis.
Expert Reviews has grown into a seven-figure revenue stream for Dennis. The product review platform works on an affiliate model, where Dennis directs consumers to retailers for the transaction and takes a commission.
Coach has revenues on course to reach seven figures, Wootton said. Like Expert Reviews, it works on an affiliate model.
“Traffic has grown from 200,000 unique users per month to 2+ million, and we have seen a fantastic bump during the lockdown as more people bought health and fitness equipment for their home. Expert Reviews and Coach have pivoted to affiliate revenues as their key focus,” Wootton said.
“So the editorial teams are geared towards affiliate content production, and their KPIs are aligned to affiliate revenue performance. There is additional support from the central digital team for technology, engineering, content strategy, and analysis.”
Key to all of this is data.
“We pull in various data points from GA360, our affiliate partners, etc., and create dashboards and sheets, which continuously monitor the performance of our content,” Wootton said.
He expects Dennis will continue to develop its affiliate and commerce strategies in the next few years, looking for other sectors where the team sees opportunities.
His advice for others working toward a content-to-commerce strategy: “Ensure that product selection, content type, and scope are shaped by affiliate and commerce opportunity. It isn’t about existing content-to-commerce as much as shaping what to write and how — with the fresh lens of the economic opportunity. Have a plan for the depreciation of third-party cookies. The affiliate and commerce models are based on this for attribution, and this is a threat to future revenues and efficacy.”
This case study originally appeared in the INMA’s recent report “Content-To-Commerce Brings Revenue In Post-Advertising World.”