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Best Digital Publishing Innovation

Congratulations to Decanter who are the winners of Best Digital Publishing Innovation

Your ’Elevator Pitch’

“Is this wine good and can I buy it?” is a question we used to answer in print. To answer it in 2018, we launched a new digital product, “Premium”. It’s a subscription-lead proposition aimed at super-serving wine-lovers; aimed at balancing revenue fluctuations with the needs of fine-wine buyers. Along with content, Premium is co-powered by a custom wine database, an innovative component that 95% of subscribers view before paying. This innovation lead to a successful Y1 where digital revenue doubled, presenting a 60/40 split between subscriptions and advertising giving a stable, profitable digital business model for future growth.


Set The Scene

We developed an innovative open ended wine database, that compliments articles, which can push and pull data from different sources in order to keep it flexible for future opportunities. Innovative upgrades examples in 2018 include;

  • the number of reviews from 300 (print) to over 1000 per month
  • Partnering with Vivino to pull dynamic prices, that geo-locate our reader and returns prices in local currency
  • A data link to transfer all our scores and editorial to the largest global collectors software of 500k+ wine-lovers if they subscribe to Premium
  • Allow users to “Save Wines”, effectively creating cellar software

Tell Us The Story

There were three major visions for; to diversify revenue away from print, to diversify revenue away from digital adverts and to serve the international wine-lover. The first step was to identify opportunities in the digital sphere within the wine world. The next was to overlay this with brand fit and ease of execution. The route we chose was not the most profitable, but the best aligned with the brand and had the least friction bringing a new digital product to market.

Premium is a concept based on the intellectual property of Decanter and aimed at super-serving wine lovers. Our indepth knowledge and analysis of fine wine, what it tastes like and answering the question, "is it value for money"?

Working outside the larger TI Media structure for speed and agility, Decanter partnered with Piano Software for the subscription paywall.

To start, Decanter needed to digitise its main IP, wine product information, tasting notes and scores. A 6-month task was undertaken to build a wine database, then upload over 8,000 wines and notes to the new system.

Simultaneously, a restructure of process changing from a print to a digital-lead content commissioning took place allowing us to up our content output. went from 30 tastings notes a month, to over 1,000 being published.

In a separate stream, an in-house team built a front-end to the database and integrated our selected subscription paywall provider. This was all achieved with no extra overheads in editorial and CAPEX spend against development work.

The Results

After a successful first year, Decanter’s digital revenue is set for a 65/35 subscription/advertising split in 2019.

Notable achievements include:

  • Subscriptions from some of the most influential people in the wine-trade internationally
  • $xk of revenue in year 1, with 70% on annual rolling contracts – forecast $xk in 2019, with costs flat
  • Funnel conversions increasing to x%. Feedback benchmarks this at x% for other specialist brands
  • Driving our brand to the international audience. Reach in the USA has grown rapidly and is now our most important
  • audience
  • Using subscriber data to cross-sell events. Our first event in New York sold out
  • New website redesign based on success in January 2019
  • The launch a “Premium” app on Android and IOS due in 2019

A digital first strategy has attracted further investment from the wider business with the aim of growing faster with an enhanced offering in 2019.

The Best Digital Publishing Innovation Award is sponsored by Deloitte.

In Partnership with


In Partnership with

AOP - Association of Publishers