Audience Engagement Digital Publishing
3 mins read

How to strengthen brands post-pandemic: Insights from Immediate Media

This week for our 200th episode, we hear from Duncan Tickell, Chief Revenue Officer at Immediate Media. He talks about why he rejoined Immediate and what his focus is now with diversification, how their podcasts are becoming a seven figure revenue business, and what he’s doing to help the publisher maintain the gains it made during the pandemic. He also explains why sourdough webinars have been such a hit, and why it’s so important to be in markets where consumers are passionate.

In the news roundup the team goes all-in on the Alden Global Capital expose, compares it with the news that Axel Springer is investing heavily in Politico, and then compare that in turn with the Axios local newsletter membership launch. Chris spoils the end of a movie from 1974.

Here are some highlights:

Building a seven figure audio business

[Audio] has been a surprisingly strong growth area for us. Our History Extra podcast, we’ve taken that on a journey where it’s now going to become a seven figure revenue stream very shortly. That gets over 4 million listens a month, so it’s become a real area of growth.

What we’re looking to do is scale that business into the other verticals in which we operate, be that food or gardening, and Radio Times is the latest addition to that stable.

What we’ve seen in audio is, certainly in terms of subscribers, it takes time to build. So History Extra has been on a long journey of building subscribers to get to the incredibly strong position it finds itself in today. But equally within that, we found that the amount of content – i.e. the number of episodes – that you put out makes a big difference.

Through testing and learning, we’ve arrived at what we think is the optimal level for that product, which is four [episodes] a week. Now we go on that journey with our other brands, which is to work out what formats work, what type of content works.

Opportunities in commerce

Within our core brands, we also think there’s a big opportunity around building out consumer revenue streams. [Commerce] has significantly scaled for us. We really benefited during lockdown – as many others did – in terms of those deep connections we have with our consumers; the fact they trust our brands, in a way that perhaps other publishers don’t get, that enjoyment with the heritage that they bring.

That as a business has grown by 10X since 2018. It’s now well over 10% of our digital revenue, and is still in that phase where we’re doubling revenue growth pretty much year over year for the last three years.

Serving their audience’s passions

Immediate’s DNA is to really focus on markets where you help people to get the most out of the things they love to do every day, be that cooking, gardening, cycling, entertainment. And actually, what we’re finding is that people want to consume that content and inform their passions across multiple formats.

It’s well documented that we’ve had two consecutive, or the last two ABC periods, were particularly strong from a growth perspective. We’ve now got well over 1.1 million subscribers. And those aren’t relationships that just go away.

So for us, the great thing around that is that those are relationships that we will maintain, and continue to build on, and think how we continue to fulfil their information needs.

Nurturing an entrepreneurial spirit

One of the most interesting things that came out of that pandemic situation was that our teams, who were previously working to budgets and thinking about targets and bonuses, when the world changed, that all went up in a puff of smoke. We actually said, ‘Let’s just think about how can we be entrepreneurial and innovative to get through this phase.’

We actually saw the development of a whole bunch of new business initiatives that have actually stood the test of time. One that I’d really call out is our webinar business. We didn’t have a webinar business before, those were confined to B2B businesses.

But we’ve now built a [webinar] business that’s had well over 30,000 paid attendees. We’re again on that run rate to make it another seven figure business across our portfolio. So we just felt we found some really interesting new ways to connect with people during that period.

Republished with kind permission of Media Voices, a weekly look at all the news and views from across the media world.