Mobile navigation


Relaunch of Brand Republic

Haymarket Online Publisher Matthew Gerry outlines the underlying thinking behind the recent relaunch of Brand Republic, a leading marketing, media & advertising website.

By Matthew Gerry

I have come to realise that running a website can be like owning a car, only one that you have to take apart and then put back together again on a regular basis.

I say this as so many builds and relaunches are about reinvigorating an online business or to produce a more stable web presence, correcting errors and flaws from past builds and patches.

But with Brand Republic, we were in the enviable position of having a roadworthy vehicle: an established and profitable online-only brand.

We knew we were getting lots right already – positive feedback and our traffic were testament to that – so we were able to focus on user experience, both for readers and our editorial team.

So what’s changed?

For the readers, we wanted more readable article templates, better signposting, a revamped registration system and more of our best content “surfaced” on the site. Across Brand Republic, Campaign, Marketing and MediaWeek, more than 200 articles are uploaded in a five day period – but this simply wasn’t evident on the site.

For our editorial team the relaunch has provided a highly flexible CMS that allows embedded real-time media, different page layouts, aggregation of RSS sources, flash apps and mashups. Increasingly we are using multimedia to tell stories with timelines, galleries and Google maps set to become a regular feature within articles. For example, we produced an interactive timeline showing when different Wimbledon sponsors came on board.

The CMS now has benefits for our commercial teams too with the agility it provides allowing us to meet an increasing range of advertiser needs.

Advertisers benefit in other ways too. Referrals and applications to our job site have increased since the changes and we are boosting response by running fewer, larger (and high-yielding) display ads.

Debate and intelligence

Another key aim – reinforced through our marketing campaign – is to emphasize that the site is about more than news and email bulletins. It’s struck me since joining Brand Republic, that when I attend events these are almost always the first things people mention when I meet them.

To address this, we are focussing on four key pillars – news, debate, intelligence and jobs – in our content production and reinforced through our marketing campaign. For the second of these pillars, we have introduced Think BR, which aggregates the best blogs and comment from across the advertising, marketing, media and PR industries.

This is accompanied by Intelligence, which features high quality original research along with industry data. Some of our best intelligence – from Campaign’s A List to Marketing’s Top 100 brands – will also reside here. Searchable league tables and the ability to sort data in different ways will also be rolled out in this section over the coming weeks.

To pay or not to pay

Both these areas have led us to consider options for charging users for access.

Our success to date has been built on an ad-driven model and we will continue to provide content for free. But with more insight and intelligence, there is a clear opportunity for charging.

We are trialling a metered model, which asks people to register after reading 20 articles and we’ve seen a fivefold increase in daily registrations as a result. This allows Brand Republic to be read by a large audience who do not have the means or inclination to pay, as well as providing a lever we can adjust over time to move users into payment for the content they value most.

With technical hurdles overcome, our challenge is now to present and market content in a way that encourages users to pay.