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Display and subscriptions continue to drive digital publishing revenue

Findings from the latest Digital Publishers Revenue Index, a quarterly report on UK publishing from the Association for Online Publishing and Deloitte, reveals an increase in digital revenue in the last year, fuelled by continued strong growth in subscriptions and display advertising formats.

Display and subscriptions continue to drive digital publishing revenue

According to the DPRI report, combined digital revenue increased by 6.8% on a 12-month rolling basis, with display formats and subscriptions driving growth by 17% and 15% respectively.

In the 12 months to June 2018, B2C publications saw an 8.7% increase in annual revenue, whereas B2B titles saw a decline by 2.5% over the same period. B2B publications experienced a 10% decline in recruitment and 9% decrease in other classified revenues. However, display and subscription revenues increased on a rolling 12-month basis, by 6% and 3% respectively.

When looking at total industry revenues by platform, multi-platform revenue increased by 64% in Q2 2018 compared to Q2 2017, mostly due to a 190% rise in multi-platform display advertising revenue. With a continued shift towards multi-platform campaigns over siloed channels, desktop-only revenue decreased by 35% year-on-year, with mobile-only revenue experiencing a 20% drop over the same period.

The latest report also highlights a shift in priorities for sources of future growth, with 67% of AOP board members citing non-advertising revenue as high priority in the next 12 months. This is down from 91% in Q2 2017 and, together with a rise in the number of AOP board members prioritising an increase in cashflow, indicates an increased focus on more controllable cash generation factors.

Richard Reeves, Managing Director, AOP, commented: “Once again, this quarter’s DPRI highlights a continual growth in revenues. It is really positive news that the 6.8% growth in the year to June 2018 is the highest annual rate of growth we have seen since the DPRI moved to its current form in mid-2015. Core growth is coming from subscription models and display revenue – driven increasingly by multi-platform campaigns – as consumers look to publishers for premium, quality content they can trust.

“These insights are especially interesting considering the implementation of GDPR in May, which has been challenging publishers to adjustment and adaption. Going forwards, we will continue to observe the impact of these changes on the digital publishing industry, as well as monitoring further shifts in practices and priorities over the next quarter.”

Dan Ison, lead partner for media and entertainment at Deloitte, commented: “On the one hand, year-on-year growth of multi-platform revenue is a clear indication of how consumer media consumption habits have changed in recent years. Yet, and perhaps more significantly, it also suggests that online publishers are becoming more attuned to consumer behaviour and are adapting accordingly; launching campaigns that span across multiple platforms, rather than just mobile or desktop.

“AOP Board Members have renewed their focus around shoring up cashflow, and this could be interpreted as a shift to more defensive strategies, possibly in light of the introduction of GDPR and in the context of economic uncertainty for the short-medium term. Nonetheless, the considerable year-on-year growth in digital revenue should be regarded as a positive sign for the industry.”