Digital disruption is full of contradictions for legacy media. Condé Nast splashed more than $100m on its trumpeted but short-lived plan to become an online fashion retailer. Less expensively, Hearst came to a similar conclusion. But, as magazines everywhere wonder whether e-commerce can ever fill the advertising gap, one UK publisher is quietly selling more than 250 cars every month to its readers.
This is Dennis Publishing which doubled total revenues in the last nine years, has 15% profit margins and keeps growing. The £100m, 430-person company reaches over 50m unique users and (still) sells some 2.5m magazines every month. It has made millions from ‘news’ during a decade when newspapers have lost their grip, and makes 10% of its revenue from international licensing deals with 50 companies in 40 countries.
The UK’s sixth largest magazine-centric company has 40 print and digital brands across four sectors: Technology (Alphr, PC Pro and ComputerActive), Automotive (Buyacar, AutoExpress, Evo), Lifestyle (Cyclist, Men’s Fitness, Viz), and Current Affairs (The Week). Significantly, for a media company shedding its traditional print bias, it has fast-growing digital-only brands in every sector. Dennis is fast becoming a digital media company, even though it still publishes 25 magazines.