In the first episode of the BrightGen Media Podcast, our host talked to Duncan Tickell, Chief Revenue Officer of Immediate Media, about his media strategy, how he grew his business during a pandemic, life after 3rd party cookies… and more!
How has the pandemic affected the online publishing industry?
For people operating the special interest sector, the key trends over the last couple of years have been quite favorable. Immediate Media publishes brands that seek to create more happiness each day by helping people do the things that they love. It’s been a real cornerstone of our strategy. In generalist media, certainly within the magazine sector, there has been real disruption. We’ve seen that a lot less in those special interests categories.
While people were stuck at home, focusing on doing the things that they love, we were reaching over 80 million unique browsers a month. Although that’s easing off a little as people emerge from their homes, we’ve managed to retain a lot of those consumers, readers, or users. We’ve seen some real innovation and entrepreneurial flare to think about with those new connections and with those new consumers. On a whole host of levels, the last two years have been a really good driver of innovation.
What key trends have you seen changing over the last five years in publishing?
We’re seeing a much more balanced split between print and digital. Unsurprisingly, a lot of the growth is coming from digital. If I take advertising alone, we are now significantly majority digital.
The second big trend for me is we’ve gone from leading customers to a customer-led business. Technology enables you to really understand your consumers. The old print editor was the God head figure who knew their market and decided what the readers would consume. We’ve pivoted the other way around now with digital – you understand what your consumers want to read. The services that you can provide because they vote with their feet (or they click with their mouses). That offers companies incredible insight and opportunity.
Once you can understand what your consumers want, you can start to tailor your products and services better to them.
Thirdly, technology has increased the pace of the business and our ability to innovate quickly. We’re now on a platform that allows us to be incredibly agile in terms of launching new products and services.
How did you decide as a business you need to implement the ad sales solution in Salesforce, BrightMEDIA?
Our systems were built on a relational database that was typically used for mid-sized businesses. We needed something scalable, robust and future-proof. We needed an end-to-end system, and BrightMEDIA was the one solution that enabled us to do that. From contact management through to pipeline, through to orders, and integrating with all our third party systems, we could manage it all in Salesforce with BrightMEDIA.
Lots of people implement Salesforce just for pipeline and then use other systems to do other things. For us, to get the proper uptake and usage within the business and unlock the productivity gains, we had to have it completely entwined.
We’re unlocking value in the system, and it’s been a smooth migration. We are able to do much more pipeline planning within one system. We’re also able to radically improve our CRM capability as well.
What’s your focus for the next 12 months?
I’d start with data. We are ensuring we have an incredibly robust strategy in place for when the third party cookies are fully phased out. We’re already at a point where you can’t drop a cookie on significant amounts of inventory anyway. So it’s a major priority to make sure that we’ve created the opportunity to write privacy compliant, highly contextual environments, that people can partner with us on or advertise with us with the full knowledge of what they’re doing.
We’re accelerating some of the new initiatives that we’ve seen in the last couple of years. For example, audio has become a seven figure revenue stream for us in terms of creative. We replicate success in different markets – building out audio, continuing to invest in video, new content formats.
We’re looking at new ways in which you can unlock direct consumer revenues. Whether through commerce and transactions, or through paid-for content models within digital subscriptions, unlocking the value of the content that we post online.
Media is consolidating – so we’re looking at how we can build out our portfolio through M&A, or launching what will help people do the things they love.
Talking to Duncan so openly about his business and his view on the industry was a privilege. We were so pleased to be able to share his insights with the world in our podcast.
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