Digital Publishing Reader Revenue Top Stories
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What’s ‘up’ for publishers? Traffic, subscriptions, and commerce revenue.

The average publisher expects things to normalize by early 2021

Even as the industry has taken a massive hit due to the Coronavirus, it’s heartening to know that almost half the publishers either exceeded their forecasts or managed to hit their first-quarter numbers. 23% managed to exceed their forecasts, while 25% hit them.

Nevertheless, just over half the publishers also missed Q1 forecasts. The findings are based on a survey of 127 publishers in the Digiday Research Report: Publishers expect revenue to return to pre-coronavirus levels in 2021.

Even considering the publishers who took a hit in the first quarter, the largest subgroup missed their estimates by single-digit percentages.

News publishers are pushing subscriptions directly in order to make up for lost ad revenue,” says Shareen Pathak, MD, Editorial Products at Digiday. 

Publishers with strong subscription businesses and other ways of diversified revenue streams and low cost structures will win.

Shareen Pathak, Digiday

The latest research report takes a deep dive into how publishers have fared over the past quarter. We share a few highlights below.

According to the survey, the impact across business lines has been varied, site traffic has gone up for most publishers even as revenue has gone down, and the average publisher expects things to normalize in early 2021.

Although ad revenue has failed to keep pace, for 80% of publishers, traffic is up. For almost a quarter, it’s up more than 50% from pre-pandemic levels.

And while ad revenue was hardest hit in the first quarter, subscriptions increased for 29% of publishers, and stayed consistent for most (57%).

Other revenue lines, like commerce and affiliate commerce, also saw modest gains.

And as the economy moves along to a re-opening, there’s hope that things will get better sooner rather than later.

As the report shows, an overwhelming 79% of publishers are confident that revenue will return to “pre-coronavirus” levels by the beginning of 2021.

Click here to access the full Digiday Research Report.

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