DriveTribe the automotive online community platform launched by former BBC Top Gear and current Grand Tour Amazon Originals presenters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May is planning to open a US Headquarters as it builds on a strong period of commercial growth that has seen the US overtake its home UK market.
The platform, which launched in November 2016, counts the US as its largest consumer audience, with between 1-2m unique on-platform visits each month, around a fifth of its global reach.
Having landed a number of US commercial deals, the platform is looking to set up a local presence in LA, with additional remote agents able to cover New York and the Mid-West. Initially the remit will be commercial, with local sales agents expected to offer on the ground support to both automotive and lifestyle clients.
DriveTribe users can post and share stories, photos and video clips, as well as a range of other options designed to appeal to amateur content producers and enthusiasts. Long form articles for example, can be embellished with quizzes and polls designed to yield instant engagement and peer validation.
While the platform has plans to introduce transactional revenues, targeting motoring products and services at users with known interests and preferences, the past year has seen it build a strong revenue-line in branded content creation and distribution.
Last month it picked up “Campaign of the Year” from media and marketing trade magazine the Drum, for an eight-month sponsorship programme supporting the pre-launch of Audi’s first electric car, the e-tron. The campaign, effectively enabled Audi to build a narrative around the e-tron, feeding a sequence of posts into a dedicated community area focused on electric vehicles.
In the US, equivalent commercial deals include K&N filters, who used the platform to seed content into highly targeted communities interested in engineering and vehicle modification. Like Audi, the campaign provides an environment for direct audience engagement, including self-help explainer videos and expert tips.
DriveTribe’s entry into the US follows a period of global localisation as the platform has harnessed regional ambassadors and community publishers to help it curate locally relevant content for each regional market.
With audiences appearing wherever Clarkson, Hammond and May have a local fanbase, the platform last year introduced localised versions of its platform in the US, China and Australia. This year localisation is progressively extending to Germany, France, Italy, the Middle East and the important automotive growth market of India.
Explaining the strategy CEO Jonathan Morris says, “local Ambassadors act as our talent spotters, identifying locally relevant, quality content that they can promote to regional landing pages. This content is often supplemented with articles and video from local media owners who are using DriveTribe to publish their own content and build audience engagement in much the same way that they might use social platforms like Twitter or Facebook.”
Last November, following the release of a US localised version, the platform formed an alliance with Irvine, California based publisher and content agency RACER Media Inc, publishers of RACER magazine and racer.com. The relationship allows Racer to use DriveTribe as a channel to build audience engagement, as well as a channel to extend audience reach for its advertisers and partners.
Aside from strong on-platform growth in the US, DriveTribe has also seen significant growth through social platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, as content publishers often post onto the platform and then share their content more widely. A typical month will see DriveTribe’s social accounts reach over 6 million people in the US and generate over 16 million impressions.