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Commercial director Richard Walters reflects on lessons learned from CPL’s long-standing partnership with one of the UK’s biggest membership organisations, The Camping and Caravanning Club.
Digital advertising revenue. It’s the holy grail for many membership organisations that have a long history of producing a printed magazine.
At CPL, we’ve been working with The Camping and Caravanning Club for six years. The Club has an enviable 730,000 members and its monthly magazine is audited at 287,835. Its advertising generates more than £1m a year.
In 2014, after some analysis of its business model, the Club decided that a new category of digital membership should be offered as an alternative to the traditional paper membership.
Today, digital members receive their monthly magazine as a PDF turn-page edition or in app format for Android and IOS tablets. Plus, they get their annual campsite directory as an app, have access to a magazine website, and receive magazine e-newsletters.
The move has proven to be an important turning point for driving membership growth, with the Club ending the 2017 calendar year with its highest-ever membership.
As the Club’s advertising agency, our team at CPL was aware that, with only one per cent of revenue previously coming from digital channels, we would need to adjust the sales strategy. We would move away from the magazine-centred approach and incorporate new digital channels. The member – rather than the magazine – would be at the centre of the commercial proposition.
Since then, our sales team has worked with the Club to create new inventory and price it in a competitive way. We have liaised with advertisers to help them embrace the opportunities offered by digital advertising – and to reinforce the value of having a commercial online presence.
We have grown digital advertising revenue by more than 1,000 per cent while advertising revenue overall continues to grow year on year. The print circulation has reduced as members have chosen to receive a digital version instead.
I believe membership bodies have a distinct edge over commercial publishers. Channels of communication will evolve over time and commercial revenue strategies succeed when advertisers are educated and willing, members are ready for digital content, and your agency team is flexible, knowledgeable and proactive in embracing new opportunities.