These are the findings in the latest Digital Publishers Revenue Index (DPRI), a quarterly report on UK publishing from the Association for Online Publishing (AOP) and Deloitte.
According to the latest DPRI report, video and display formats were the main driver for growth, up 27.6% and 8.5% respectively over the year. Multi-platform revenues – those generated from multi-device campaigns – more than doubled to £109.9m in Q4 2018, compared to £53.1m in Q4 2017. This was largely due to an uplift in multi-device display advertising revenues, which increased by 275% from £13.4m to £50.4m.
In the 12 months to December 2018, B2C publishers saw growth of 2.1% in annual revenues. In contrast, B2B publisher revenues declined by 2.5% over the same period. However, in the final quarter of 2018 B2B revenues increased by 3.7% in comparison to Q4 2017, driven by uplifts in display advertising and sponsorship.
Overall, 63% of AOP Board Members reported positive revenue growth in 2018. However far fewer have reported high levels of growth with just 16% reporting growth in excess of 25% in the final quarter of 2018, compared to 43% in Q4 2017.
Despite positive revenue growth across the full year 2018, the DPRI report highlights a significant decrease in confidence from both company and industry perspectives, down 17% and 34% respectively in Q4 2018 compared with Q3 2018. The cross-industry Deloitte CFO survey also identified falling levels of cross-industry CFO optimism, with a 7% decrease over the quarter.
Richard Reeves, Managing Director, AOP, commented: “The latest DPRI report has once again revealed some positive insights, with revenues continuing to rise despite a year of persistent change. It is especially encouraging to see consistent growth in video and multi-platform revenues, as publishers continue to diversify and innovate their practices to keep up with the needs of today’s digital consumer.
“However, Brexit uncertainty is continuing to create additional challenges, and is likely to affect confidence levels over the next quarter. As the full implications of Brexit become clearer, we will continue to monitor the impact and effects on our industry, as we hope to see the upwards trend of revenue growth continue.”
Dan Ison, lead partner for telecoms, media and entertainment at Deloitte, commented: “It’s encouraging to see that the majority of digital publishers experienced growth during a year of uncertainty.
“Video revenues stand out as a key growth area for digital publishers, and, as mobile internet connectivity improves with the introduction of 5G networks, it will be easier to view video content on the go. Our research shows that just 13% of smartphone users agree that the service quality is currently good enough to enable them to use the internet at all times while commuting, limiting how many people are able view this content. The advent of 5G will encourage more people to access video content across a variety of devices, and so this channel is likely to remain an important one for digital publishers to prioritise in the coming months.”