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How Haymarket reinvented What Car? by behaving like a tech business

What Car is a 45-year-old institution, helping British motorists choose their next car through expert reviews and advice published online and in its monthly magazine.  It’s also a flagship brand for Haymarket, the privately-owned publisher which has dominated motoring media.

Faced with the threat of digital car-buying start-ups like, and the goliath that is Autotrader, Haymarket decided to make a significant investment in technology to develop a What Car? new car lead-gen product.

I caught up with Rachael Prasher, MD of Haymarket Automotive, to learn more about the journey the brand has been on in recent years.

Somewhat unusually amongst media owners, Haymarket decided to hire their own teams and develop in-house, bringing in a new CTO and looking for tech talent outside the media sector.  They have had to adopt the mindset of a tech business in that the product has to keep evolving in close dialogue with users, and development investment is sustained.

Advertising in What Car? once was solely from car manufacturers, but this new product has been developed to generate revenue directly from car dealers., Dealers can now upload their car stock to the site and bid for sales when users are searching online.  At the same time manufacturer revenues have grown, driven by digital display and content solutions, especially video a direct consequence of What Car?’s strategy to attract more in-market car buyers.

Users register on-site to check prices and receive real-time offers of specific cars in their region.  Data on user behaviour provides great insight into where they are in their buying journey.  What Car? is now expanding its coverage into vans and electric vehicles as those markets grow.

What Car still exists in print, the magazine is profitable, and sales have been resilient. But the digital operation drives revenues.  And there is strong growth in more B2B focussed events for the motoring industry around the brand too.

Rachael Prasher is speaking at Making Publishing Pay in February.  She will explain the changes that she and her team have made to reinvent this well-established media brand:

  • How the team built commercial relationships with dealers from scratch
  • How editors have adapted to new measures of success for their content
  • What’s involved in creating a content solutions business
  • How publishing teams can learn how to think like a tech business
  • How the print magazine adds value to the brand
  • What are the B2B opportunities for a consumer media brand

Delegates will have plenty of opportunities to ask questions about the process and understand how they could apply a similar approach to their own media business.

Making Publishing Pay is a conference for independent publishing and media businesses that will inspire with stories of innovation and provide real-world practical tips on how to diversify revenues and build value within a media business.

See the full agenda here:

Register your interest now to be the first to know about new speaker announcements.