Digital Publishing
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UK digital publishing revenues increase to £165M: AOP and Deloitte report signals recovery

Bounce-back in advertising display revenue, alongside positive growth in subscriptions

Digital publishing revenues in the UK increased to £165 million in Q4 2020, up by 13% in comparison to Q4 2019, according to the latest quarterly Digital Publishers’ Revenue Index (DPRI) from the Association of Online Publishers (AOP) and Deloitte. 

Whilst auguring well for digital publishing revenues in 2021, the strong growth in Q4 2020 masks significant revenue contractions across the full calendar year of 2020, which led to a total digital revenue decline of 0.8% compared to the full year 2019.

Over Q4 2020, display advertising held its place as the largest revenue category for digital publishers, with income reaching £78 million (an increase of 17% against Q4 2019). Revenue from subscriptions and miscellaneous also contributed positively to publisher income, growing by 44%, and 39% respectively compared to Q4 2019. 

Categories that didn’t perform as well include recruitment classifieds, sponsorship and online video income. 

At a time when 18% of those earning less than £13,500 do not own or have access to a desktop or laptop computer, multi-platform content is essential to ensure every member of society is able to access quality journalism.

Dan Ison, Lead Partner for Telecommunications, Media and Entertainment, Deloitte

B2C digital publishing revenues continue to outperform B2B, with Q4 2020 B2C revenue increasing by 15% over Q4 2019. This contrasts with B2B digital publishing which witnessed a slight reduction of 0.4% from Q4 2019, driven by a fall in revenues in sponsorship and recruitment classifieds.

Publisher confidence in the industry continues to stay at a high level, reflecting the wider economic positivity as the UK roadmap to recovery progresses. This sentiment is broadly matched by confidence among AOP board members around the financial prospects of their own businesses.

Commenting on the results, Richard Reeves, Managing Director, AOP, said: “The industry has demonstrated unwavering resilience in the face of COVID-19 turmoil over the past year, constantly tackling fresh challenges and finding ways to safeguard revenue. What stands out to me most is the impressive rise in subscriptions and other revenue diversifications, demonstrating publishers’ ongoing commitment to innovation and move away from a sole reliance on advertising revenue.”

Recovering from the early 2020 decline in revenues, publishers’ hard work is clearly demonstrated by the strong performance in Q4 2020. It’s very positive to see the bounce-back in advertising display revenue to go alongside the positive growth in subscriptions that publishers have been able to deliver across the last 12 months.

Richard Reeves, Managing Director, AOP