Pete Wootton is managing director at Dennis Digital.
1. What is your focus as managing director of Dennis Digital?
I have overall responsibility for the digital output of the business. This includes circa 20 websites, 5 Apps and 2 ecommerce businesses. My focus is to maximise our digital turnover and profitability over the long term, so this includes product and brand development, revenue generation, strategy and our response to opportunities and challenges e.g. ad blocking.
2. What skills are needed to run an ecommerce business Vs. running a media company?
Many of the skills are complementary, but the focus on data driven decision making is more acute in ecommerce.
For example a change on a media site could improve your traffic by a few percentage points which is interesting but may not move the needle. However a much smaller impact (<1 percent) on your conversion funnel can have a significant impact on revenue and profitability.
The other big area is around finance. We are now FCA licenced to sell finance products to consumers which was clearly a big departure for a publishing business! This has meant significant training around process and compliance but has also been a fantastic learning experience. Its also been hugely successful and within just over 12 months of being granted the licence we lent over £1m of finance in April this year for the first time.
3. How do you use content to support/drive traffic to your ecommerce site?
We create a content strategy based on key words that we’ve identified will deliver an audience who are likely to convert e.g. review content, advice about different types of finance that are available or ‘best’ round ups. This is then created on landing pages on Buyacar at various points of the funnel. We also have a large in-market car buying audience across www.autoexpress.co.uk and www.carbuyer.co.uk and so direct traffic from relevant pages across to Buyacar.
4. How is the ecommerce site buyacar.co.uk expanding to international markets?
We haven’t yet started to expand into international markets. We are currently up 200 percent year on year in 2016 and we need to focus on UK growth. However, the model definitely translates to other countries and this is part of our future strategy.
5. Are there any other ecommerce acquisitions in the Dennis Digital pipeline?
We also have a stake in a last minute dining service called Tablepouncer.com, which we are currently expanding across the UK. We are always interested in opportunities to diversify our revenue streams and ecommerce is an area we are in the process of developing across the portfolio. There are no new acquisitions I can talk about at the moment though.
6. Anything else you’d like to add?
Since acquiring Buyacar.co.uk the business has grown significantly. At Dennis we spend millions of pounds a year building in-market car buying audiences across brands like Autoexpress.co.uk and Carbuyer.co.uk and so it makes perfect sense for us to monetise these users in different ways. I also believe the process has introduced some new skills and knowledge into the company which will benefit our business in other ways. Its also great fun and hugely inspiring to hear how many cars you’ve sold!
Pete joined Dennis Publishing in May 1995 and worked in sales roles on a number of magazines before becoming the sales manager of Dennis Interactive in June 1999. In January 2002 he became the publisher of Computer Buyer and our IT websites and was also responsible for launching Custom PC the following year. Following a couple of years as operations director he became the divisional MD of Dennis Digital in October 2006 and a member of the Executive Board. He also sits on the Association of Online Publishers (AOP) Board.