At a time of tight resources for publishers, some are finding it better to partner than compete.
In a three-month trial, Trinity Mirror’s technology section will publish stories and reviews taken directly from Dennis tech titles Alphr and Expert Reviews. The goal for Trinity Mirror is to test in-depth technology content without investing in additional editorial staff. Dennis has a technology lab for testing gadgets.
Both sides will benefit from any ad sales with a roughly even revenue-share split. Trinity Mirror’s commercial teams will even assist Dennis sales team in pitches when appropriate during the trial, and beyond, if the partnership proves a success. Trinity Mirror can also use affiliate links within any Dennis articles.
“This tie-up marks a big change in the way we think about off-site content distribution beyond Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms,” said Paul Hood, head of digital at Dennis’ technology division. “Traditionally, we’d be chasing the same ad dollars. But rather than the old way of treating everyone as the competition, our new focus realizes that there’s mutual benefit from working with high-quality sites in a complementary way.”
Alphr and Expert Reviews editors will apprise Trinity Mirror’s technology editor Sophie Curtis of what content’s coming up, and she’ll cherry pick which articles to take with direct access to the CMS. Once she’s picked the articles, Dennis won’t syndicate those pieces anywhere else, as part of the agreement. That’s an important part of the commercial sell: that the audiences are Dennis and Trinity Mirror-only.
Manufacturers will often request quotes from Expert Reviews articles, for a fee, while other publications such as the Londonist request articles from time to time, but they don’t tend to pay for them, said Hood.
The partnership is only six weeks old, but so far, in-depth reviews, such as “Best Smartphone camera 2016: LG G5 vs Samsung S7 vs HTC 10,” have been taken from Expert Reviews, with slightly lighter pieces from Alphr, such as “Orgasm ping pong is the sport nobody asked for: Hitting balls with paddles has never been so awkward.”
Should the trial prove a success, Trinity Mirror will start exploring other partnerships with media owners as a way to beef up niche editorial across its other categories which include sports, finance and business. This would allow it to expand coverage without taking on extra staff — and doing it quickly..
“We haven’t done anything nearly as integrated as this before. In the past, we’ve published the odd piece from other publications, but this is the first time we’ve used it as a proper test case for another potential strategy,” said Russell Carter, head of digital partnerships at Trinity Mirror.
Traffic sharing partnerships are nothing new of course. For example, Business Insider has had a myriad of traffic sharing partners for years, where it republishes stories from other media owners with link backs. The Independent and The Evening Standard are among the latest to share stories on BI. Likewise, they can also take BI stories for their own sites. The trade is mainly for the purposes of reach and visibility for both sides, while the additional reach can be sold by both parties.
Other specialist interest titles like The Wirecutter also offer services to other publishers, running regular features in Engadget and Ars Technica, and has also run pieces on The New York Times, which give a deep dive on the best wireless routers.
But both Trinity Mirror and Dennis are hopeful the experiment will result in future, mutually beneficial commercial opportunities. Both are also interested in how they would widen the approach to other media partners in future.
“We’ve already had some interest from some big advertisers, because it’s a non-standard presentation of audience and we’re getting some interesting conversations going,” Hood said. “The ones we’re close to working with are interested in how they would tailor their messages to the different audiences. If they’re more interested in the integrated deal, then we can potentially co-present with Trinity Mirror.”
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