Digital Publishing Top Stories
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AOP: Publishers will prioritize non-advertising growth in 2019, buoyed by rising digital revenues

The Q3 2018 Digital Publishers Revenue Index (DPRI) reveals that digital publishing revenues in the UK increased by 5.3%, with combined totals rising to £452.8 million over the last year. The quarterly report on UK publishing from the Association for Online Publishing (AOP) and Deloitte, is based on a survey of 21 UK digital publishers, comprising 15 B2C publishers and 6 B2B publishers.

The report further reveals that display formats and subscriptions continued to drive digital publishing growth, up by 9.1% and 7.2% respectively on a 12-month rolling basis from October 2017 to September 2018. Online video revenues increased by 21.4% in Q3 2018 compared to the same period last year, with the format experiencing 7% growth across the full 12-month period.

The continued increase in digital publishing revenues is extremely encouraging, as display advertising and subscription revenue lead the way to drive growth for the industry. And with many publishers actively focussed on growing non-advertising revenue streams, the industry has many interesting areas of innovation.

Richard Reeves, Managing Director, AOP

In the 12 months to September 2018, B2C digital publishers saw growth of 6.9%. B2B publishers, on the other hand, saw revenues decline by 1.6% over the same period. However, they experienced growth in display formats (2%) and subscriptions (4%).

Desktop-only revenues declined by 33% in Q3 2018 compared to last year. It was due to an increase in multi-platform campaigns, which drove a 42% growth in revenues from £47.1m to £66.8m. This was largely driven by a 176% increase in digital display revenue, which rose from £10.3 million to £28.5 million.

In terms of future revenue growth, 83% of AOP Board Members reported that non-advertising revenues would be a high priority for their business in 2019. They also intend to diversify their revenue streams through expansion, or by introducing new products and services.

Despite positive revenue growth, the DPRI report indicates a decrease in confidence from both company and industry perspectives, down 27% and 44% respectively in Q3 2018 compared to the previous quarter. The cross-industry Deloitte CFO survey similarly identified falling levels of confidence over the quarter.  

Display and subscriptions continue to provide an uplift to digital publishing revenues, and there is certainly a lot for the industry to feel positive about. Social media, instant messaging and apps provide people with a platform to consume content easily on their smartphone, and more than a third of smartphone owners read the news on their smartphone daily. Plans for new products and services will only continue to fuel this consumption and, coupled with a focus on non-advertising revenues, we hope to see online publishers’ confidence recover.

Dan Ison, Lead partner, Media and Entertainment, Deloitte

According to Reeves, this could be attributed to the uncertainties generated by the implementation of GDPR earlier this year and the anxieties around Brexit. He said, “This is something that will need to be carefully monitored in 2019, as the digital publishing industry looks to increase revenues further and build a sustainable future for all.”

Download WNIP’s new Media Moments 2018 report, which dives deeper into this year’s developments in publishing, and looks at what opportunities 2019 could usher in. The report is free and can be downloaded here.