Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Celebrating independent publishers: Chris Holbrook, Founder, Pick Media

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 Holbrook, Founder, Pick Media.

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

The initial appeal was to gain a voice with Google, and Facebook. Pick My Postcode is a free lottery, which doesn’t fit into the usual categories, so we tend to get stuck in the cracks. Since we joined it has become a lot more than that though.  

It can be lonely as an independent publisher, and you don’t know whether you’ve taken a wrong turn, when you took it, and how you get back.  The Alliance gives us access to the knowledge and expertise of a big organisation, but lets us stay small and nimble, so that we all have something new to offer.  Also, the meet-ups are a lot of fun!

What is the biggest challenge for your business in 2022?

Our biggest challenge is mastering paid growth.  

We have nearly three million members, but most of these came to us organically, through word of mouth. That’s great, but you can’t scale this way. We need to get the balance right with Google and Facebook, get to grips with newer platforms like TikTok, and tap into independent publishers with volume. The Alliance is helping with all of those things.

What is the biggest opportunity?

Our biggest opportunity is our growing presence in the market research and data industry. Our polling service monetises our traffic by asking market research questions and recruiting sample.

How is your business adapting and evolving to take advantage?

It took a while to break into a new market, but has had an amazing year, and seems to have passed a tipping point.  We’re members of the British Polling Council, and have achieved loads of national press coverage, and are fast becoming the go-to source for reliable, fast and affordable data.  

Most of the more established polling companies use us in some way, as well as well-known brands and political parties.

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

Being a small team we’ve never had much of a relationship with advertisers and agencies.  

We take what we get from Google, and have an agency plugging other demand in where it can be found.  We very much hope that will change as the industry turns to first-party data, as we have tons of that. 

It’s a big mountain to climb with plenty of pitfalls, so we’re going to take our time to get it right.

And with tech partners?

We talk a lot more about GDPR than we do about tech these days, sadly.

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