During Q1 2021, display advertising held its place as the largest category by revenue for digital publishers; with income reaching £53.6 million, an increase of 4.7% against Q1 2020. Revenue from subscriptions also contributed positively, growing by 48.8% compared to Q1 2020.
Both B2B and B2C publishers saw double-digit growth in digital revenues in Q1 2021. B2C publisher revenues grew by 34.2%, relative to Q1 2020, from £104.3 million to £139.2 million, fuelled by large increases in subscriptions (64%). B2B revenue increased by 11.1%, relative to Q1 2020, driven by increases in subscriptions (4.7%) and display advertising (18.7%).
On a 12-month rolling basis ending March 2021, total digital revenue increased by 9.5% to £517.4 million, driven by substantial growth in subscriptions which increased to £123.1 million over the same period. Overall revenues across both B2B and B2C publishers increased, growing 1% and 10.5% respectively on a 12-month rolling basis.
Categories that did not perform as well in the 12-months ending March 2021 included recruitment, sponsorship, and online video income, which were down by 46.9%, 17.2% and 23.1% respectively since March 2020.
Publisher confidence in the industry continues to remain very strong, mirroring the broader economic optimism. Perhaps influenced by the learnings of the pandemic, 78% of AOP’s board members surveyed believe cost reduction will once again be a high priority for their business over the next 12 months, up from 14% since this time last year.
Dan Ison, Lead Partner for Telecommunications, Media and Entertainment, Deloitte, commented: “To see growth of 49% in subscription revenue in the first quarter of 2021 is staggering – in comparison, we saw a slight 4% increase in first three months of 2019 – and a clear sign that the industry may be building back stronger following the impact of the pandemic. New data from Deloitte's Digital Consumer Trends research highlights that consumers aged 18-24 are the most likely age group to have access to a paid news-site or magazine subscription. Galvanising loyalty particularly among this age group should continue to be a key priority for publishers in the year ahead, alongside the development of content formats that appeal to new readers and subscribers.”
Richard Reeves, Managing Director, AOP, commented: “The rapid increase in digital revenues across almost all categories is extremely heartening, especially after the lows of last year. While there are clearly still long-term impacts of the pandemic it’s great to see the exceptional value and quality environments digital publishers can deliver is being recognised by the industry, demonstrated by the incredible performance in Q1 2021. With substantial growth in subscriptions, it’s great to see publishers continue to innovate and expand their offerings alongside digital advertising."
Keep up-to-date with publishing news: sign up here for InPubWeekly, our free weekly e-newsletter.