Innovation from The Drum, TTG Media and What Car

innovation at the drum

At Making Publishing Pay we heard from some ordinary media businesses doing extraordinary things.   The Drum has developed premium subs services, reinvented their awards programme and set up in the US.  TTG Media has successfully relaunched its print magazine, created events in niches and doubled its revenues.   What Car has become an online car sales portal.  Here’s their three stories if you missed the event.

Diane Young, CEO, The Drum

“Marketing can change the world” is the strapline for The Drum, and their intention is to help marketers and agencies make better decisions for their businesses.

The Drum has a portfolio of a dozen awards and have recently changed the focus of their awards beyond simply an evening of recognition and celebration to an opportunity to gather best practice and case studies from across the industry, as reviewed by peers.  This best practice content is now published on their website.

Agencies are a large part of the audience, and many are ambitious to raise their profile, and attract new clients.  The Drum Network offers an opportunity for agency members to publish their own content on The Drum website, and at premium levels, to be advised by reporters on what makes good content.  It also offers a range of networking events tailored by discipline.

The Drum Recommends is a database of client reviews and rating for agencies, providing brands with a clear picture of agency quality as viewed by their peers.  The next step will be to help brands through their procurement process, with tools for setting up a long list, a shortlist and briefing agencies.

From being a purely UK based business, The Drum now has a significant online audience in the US and has increased its US coverage with a small editorial team in NYC.  Their awards are also generating entries from across the world.

Daniel Pearce, CEO, TTG Media

Travel Trade Gazette was launched in 1953 as a weekly newspaper for travel agents.  Six years ago Daniel (then the editor) bought out the title from UBM.  Since then revenues at TTG Media have doubled, driven by a series of events targeted at different niches within the audience.

TTG have recently completed an in-depth research process among their audience.  They have used their findings to relaunch the print magazine, which is still a highly valued part of the package and well supported by advertisers.

TTG Media’s purpose and strapline is “for smarter, better, fairer travel.”  This is reflected on all their media properties and has been very positive for staff motivation and recruitment. They have launched a series of events for niches within their audience, such as cruising, luxury travel, and the LGBT community.  TTG aim to make all events memorable experiences, using unusual venues that suit the theme.

Rachael Prasher, MD, Haymarket Automotive

What Car has also been on a significant journey, from a trusted source of car buying reviews to an online car buying portal in its own right.

This process started with research, understanding the consumer car buying process and how it might change in future.  Crucially, 20% said they would buy cars online in 5 years’ time, and 40% wanted to be able to find prices online.

What Car already had significant reach into the audience of prospective car buyers, including 150,000 people who were ready to buy.  But a major challenge was changing perceptions of what the brand was for, which required a significant marketing investment.

Moving into online car buying meant that What Car had new competitors, including Autotrader and carwow.  To offer something new to the market they needed to develop the ability to offer real prices on real cars to readers online.  What Car reviews include a target price, and when a buyer is interested in a car, they can request dealers to make an offer directly through the platform.  Buyers can even communicate with several dealers via secure messaging before they make their decision to buy.

The move to a transactional platform has prompted change in the editorial approach to reviews, offering more granular detail and target prices on each and every model.  The buying platform is promoted in the print magazine and also in online video reviews.

Haymarket made the biggest investment in its history with the What Car buying platform.  All the tech development was done in-house, which has meant the entire publishing team has had to learn how to behave like a start-up.  Rachael’s observation is that “failing fast” is incredibly slow and painful in practice.  Haymarket have made a major investment in skills and people, including business intelligence, market insight, dealer sales and brand marketing.  The entire team have gone out on visits to dealers so they fully understand their perspective on the car buying process.

The aim is for three quarters of revenue to come from digital in a few years’ time, from dealer payments as well as manufacturer advertising.  They are even investigating developing predictive data tools for the industry based on the insights they now have into car buying behaviour.

Research and innovation

All three organisations have invested in research to thoroughly understand their customers.  And have been open to developing entirely different events, content and services to meet their needs. The path has not always been easy, but they are growing their revenues and reach.

More articles from Making Publishing Pay coming soon.

If you’d like to have a chat about any of the topics raised in this article and how it might apply to your own media business, please get in touch and we can organise a chat over the phone or over a coffee.

About the author

Carolyn Morgan has bought, sold, launched and grown specialist media businesses across print, digital and live events.  A founder of the Specialist Media Show (sold in 2014) she now advises media businesses large and small on their digital strategy through her consultancy Speciall Media.

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