Dennis Publishing hires Archant’s Paul Hood as digital chief amidst commercial restructure

Dennis is set to grow its new e-commerce brand Buyacar "ten-fold" in the next five years.

Paul Hood is currently digital director of Archant, London

Dennis Publishing has appointed Archant’s digital boss Paul Hood to the newly-created role of head of digital for its technology division.

Hood (pictured) will be responsible for the strategic direction, profitability and growth of the technology division, which currently publishes 13 websites, reporting to managing director of Dennis Digital Pete Wootton.

He will also sit on the publisher’s newly formed digital board, created to oversee technical delivery across the business, content strategy and digital investment.

Wootton told The Drum he is “excited” to be bringing Hood into the fold, adding that future digital launches are “imminent”. Hood will take up his new role at the end of June.

His appointment forms part of the publisher’s ongoing digital strategy overhaul, which has seen it centralise its properties, and overhaul its digital commercial team to focus on core agency groups.

As part of the changes head of digital sales Gary Rayneau will step up to become deputy managing director of Advertising, while Elaine Dela Cruz will become head of Digital Advertising.

The changes follow hot on the heels of Dennis’ acquisition of online car dealer Buyacar last November – a move which has cemented its ambitions to carve a new e-commerce revenue stream.

Wootton said it has outlined a five-year plan for Buyacar which will see it grow the business “ten-fold”.

“We invest a lot of money in building car-buying audiences, and this is an interesting way to monetise audiences. Most of our money comes from advertising still, but this is a way to develop revenues from e-commerce.”

The brand's addition to the Dennis portfolio will also help engage millennials, according to Wootton. “We have a whole generation of millennials who are used to doing everything online – not just online but on their phones. It’s only a matter of time before there is an increasing amount of transactions online for cars.”

“We want to be the ultimate choice for people wanting to buy a new or used car, whether you need finance or not, whether you want to speak to a dealer or go through us as a third party.”

Meanwhile other areas of focus will be driving its programmatic strategy and increasing content marketing tie-ups – which currently account for 25 per cent of its digital revenues, making it one of the fastest areas of growth, according to Wootton.

A total 60 per cent of its advertising revenues come from digital, and it has invested heavily in its content studio Dennis Films, which sees it produce videos for brands including Kia, Renault, Sony and Sky, as well as other publishers. Over the last year it has notched up over 100 million YouTube views.

“We have 17 videographers creating videos for us and our clients – like an internal agency. We also have Adnostic our internal HTML5 production agency. Increasingly we are providing these sorts of services. We have invested a lot of skills in developing these products,” he added.

Meanehile programmatic trading plans will keep it strictly within the private marketplace realm, rather than open exchange environment, and it has already committed to the programmatic alliance spearheaded by the Association of Online Publishers. This will see it unite with the likes of The Telegraph and Time Inc to pool inventory to generate the necessary scale to make premium programmatic trading a key revenue generator.

“We are open to working with advertisers and trading desks in any way we can, but clearly we are interested in ensuring we have proper value for the media we produce. We spend millions of pounds a year generating highly targeted audiences in vertical markets. We want to ensure we get the right reflection of value for audiences that we spend a lot of money developing.”

Advertisers have been pushing harder for proof that their ads have been seen on websites, a term referred to as viewablity. Publishers including the Guardian and ESPN have all been redesigning their websites to cater for this and Dennis is no exception. All redesigns undertaken over the last year have been modelled with this in mind.

However it has resisted incorporating viewability metrics into its commercial packages due to the discrepancies in measuring it. “I don’t think anybody has huge confidence in the quality of the viewability metrics out there and the fact everyone has different standards. The way they measure it might be similar but the methodology behind it is very different – until that settles down that’s more of a concern for us.”

Paul Hood is currently London digital director at regional publisher Archant where he oversaw the transition of multiple print brands into successful mobile and digital products – a role he has held for the last three and a half years.

Prior to that he was digital director at Trinity Mirror Group for over four years, and between 2004 and 2007 he was head of digital at Bauer Media.

Dennis Digital counts Carbuyer.co.uk, AutoExpress.co.uk, ExpertReviews.co.uk and TheWeek.co.uk in its portfolio, generating a combined 20 million monthly unique users.

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