Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Celebrating Independent Publishers: Chris Dicker, Managing Director, Trusted Reviews

The Independent Publishers Alliance was set up to champion and empower independent publishers. To celebrate the work of the organisation, NDA is running a series of interviews with its members. Next up is Chris Dicker, Managing Director, Trusted Reviews.

Why did you join the Independent Publisher Alliance and what do you hope it can achieve?

I worked at one of the largest UK publishing companies for most of my career. When we separated and became part of a new independent publisher, I quickly realised how different things are. I saw the Alliance as being a solution to help us deal with the loss of resources we encountered when leaving TI. For example, at TI Media, we had a team of people for every user touchpoint – be that Email, Data, Insight, Programmatic, Marketing, or Events. Now, we are a business where staff have to wear multiple hats and we have to focus on what is going to bring us the biggest reward, regardless of whether it would traditionally sit in someone’s role.

With the Alliance having such a diverse membership, we can help overcome this by sharing our learnings between the group. There are many businesses with different focuses in the Alliance, so there’s always help to be found regardless of the area. For example, if someone wants to learn more about affiliates or about increasing paywall subscribers then there is always someone who has already been on that journey and is willing to help.

What is the biggest challenge for your business in 2022?

The biggest challenge will be to continuously scale. Not only do you have competitors from the major publishing houses with millions to spend, but you also have to contend with the ever-changing priorities of Google – which you need to stay up to speed on if you want to compete.

What is the biggest opportunity?

Our newfound agility presents us with a unique opportunity. At the heart of the business, we have a very well established brand in Trusted Reviews, but now we are able to behave and move like a start-up. Unlike big publishers, we can make the moves we need to without any of the traditional pain points, like getting approval from multiple stakeholders. This ultimately means we can pivot quicker and test and learn faster than we have ever been able to in the past. 

How is your business adapting and evolving to take advantage?

We put the user first in everything and are always trying to do better. Be that in how we test products or creating new features on site to help users do things like compare key features more easily. We believe that by always keeping the user front and centre we can ensure a longer, more successful future.

As an independent publisher, how are your relationships with advertisers and agencies changing?

We would always love to work with more, who wouldn’t, but our focus is building on our already great client direct relationships. We have many different parts of our business. For example, we have our in-house social media agency Yellow Carbon, which offers brands everything from consultancy to holistic management of their accounts. Then there’s our Labs, where we utilise our industry leading test facilities to do product benchmarking or real-world testing for clients. Agency relationships are still important but, because our offering goes beyond media sometimes, it makes sense to focus our attention on clients directly.   

And with tech partners?

One of the main things we did when we became independent was to look to diversify our revenue streams. Doing this early means we can build a business that isn’t overly reliant on the same things a lot of our competitors are. This does however mean that we are very strict about who and what we work with, if a new tech partner can prove additional value to the user then it more than likely something we would be interested in.    

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