How Dennis Publishing generated 10X ROI and doubled audience targeting

The company

Dennis is one of the most dynamic media organisations, operating in the UK and US markets. Its portfolio of 43 brands operates in five areas of excellence: Current Affairs, Finance, Technology, Automotive and Lifestyle, reaching over 50 million unique users, with over 1.5 million subscribers and selling over 2.5 million magazines every month. Dennis has transformed its approach from its traditional print publishing roots to a multi-platform publishing and ecommerce business spanning both the UK and US, with a group turnover of over £225m.

The challenge

Across the wide range of websites Dennis owns and operates, users were generating valuable and unique first-party data from a variety of sources but collection and analysis of this data was limited.

Firstly, valuable data from editorial content, product reviews, affiliate links, ecommerce sites, and subscriptions was often not being collected effectively by Dennis’ previous DMP. In addition, different data points were being collected in a siloed manner by different pieces of technology. This lack of joined up data collection directly impacted the Dennis team’s ability to analyse user behaviour and combine it with contextual data to build a complete picture of what users were doing whilst on-site.

Secondly, within key teams across Advertising, Subscriptions, Ecommerce, Demand Generation and Affiliates, a lack of first-party data limited opportunities to effectively monetize both users and websites, impacting the ability to contribute to the strategic objective of the wider business to diversify revenue.

The desire to unlock this data and revenue prompted the team at Dennis to re-evaluate their approach to DMPs and begin to work far more closely with Permutive.

The solution

Dennis made the decision to focus on a more effective data collection strategy to support specific use cases and in turn, deployed Permutive across their full portfolio of websites. Permutive’s ability to seamlessly collect contextual and behavioural data from the page, ad units, product listings, search filters and even sign-up funnels made this a very simple, automated process.

Using Permutive, Dennis also started to generate and collect new sources of first-party data, for example, using short surveys which can be run via an ad unit on any page or website to ask specific questions of their audiences. These can be used to mine data, or inform campaigns for particular advertisers, as well as optimizing performance for users who have already viewed an ad.

Within Advertising Sales, Permutive’s Customer Success Team supported the retraining of more than 60 sales people to empower them to sell campaigns with audience data. Internally, Dennis’ Commercial Data Analyst now ensures RFPs are turned round as fast as possible and that responses to briefs detail the unique first-party audiences available. In examples where clients require bespoke segments, Dennis can now use Permutive to create and quantify these new segments within a few seconds, helping to maintain quick turnaround times for responses.

Permutive’s ability to target 100% of users across all browsers and devices, even those users who are visiting for the first time, maximizes the size of audiences the Sales team can sell, with the confidence that campaigns will deliver.

On Dennis websites focused on user acquisition and conversion, such as The Week and BuyACar, the granularity of data being collected by Permutive, in combination with tools such as Google Analytics, is now enabling full funnel analysis for the first time. Off the back of this, Dennis has started testing a variety of Marketing ad creatives tailored to specific segments set up within Permutive — for example, with particular subscription sign up offers to certain user segments. Having seen exciting results already, Dennis is now rolling out similar DMP-targeted campaigns across other brands.

  • 60%

    increase in targetable inventory from previous DMP

  • 200%

    revenue increase YOY on audience-targeted campaigns

  • 10x

    ROI on Permutive in 2019


  • Audience-based targetable inventory

    Dennis saw their audience-based targetable inventory increase by up to 60% when compared with their previous DMP.  

  • Increased campaign revenue

    Audience-targeted campaign revenue rose by 200% year on year when directly comparing Q1 2019 with Q1 2020.   

  • Return on investment

    Permutive generated an ROI of 10x for Dennis over the course of 2019. 

  • Future possibilities

    Dennis now plans to use Permutive across a range of upcoming initiatives, all of which are designed to maximize the value of the rich and unique first-party data at the publisher’s disposal. The team previously focused on facilitating advertising campaigns using Permutive for audience segmentation and targeting, but as data collection has amplified across websites and the wider business, the possibilities to use Permutive across areas such as subscriptions and marketing have opened up new opportunities. On leading financial website Money Week, data collected by Permutive will now be combined with Dennis’ own research to test advertising creative tied to investment personas for a variety of clients who operate within the financial services sector. For BuyACar and AutoExpress and other automotive sites, Permutive will be central to data strategy, allowing Dennis to look beyond car ownership to tie together other content, products and services which users in the market for a new car may consume.

"Working with the Permutive team is a really rewarding experience. They are a really smart group of people who are focused on solving publisher problems."

Alex Kirby, Head of Programmatic and Audience Data