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Digital advertising and subscriptions bounce back: Digital Publishers Revenue Index

“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.” The latest UK Digital Publishers’ Revenue Index shows a 44 per cent increase in subscription revenue and 16.8 per cent growth in display advertising during the final quarter of 2020CY.

The UK’s Association of Online Publishers (AOP) and Deloitte have released the latest Digital Publishers’ Revenue Index (DPRI) detailing UK digital publishing revenues for the last quarter of 2020. The fluctuations in revenue type are interesting to note for Australian B2C and B2B publishers when setting budgets and sales targets for the 2022 financial year. 

The quarterly DPRI is based on a survey of 21 UK digital publishers comprising 15 B2C publishers and six B2B publishers. The aim of the report is to provide an overview of revenue levels across multiple channels and platforms, and to benchmark these findings against previous quarters.

Overall, digital publishing revenues in the UK increased to £165.1 million (AU$295.77 million) in the last calendar year quarter of 2020, up by 13.1 per cent in comparison to 2019, according to the index. 

The combination of significant revenue contractions across the full calendar year of 2020, together with strong growth surges in the last quarter, led to a total digital revenue decline of 0.8 per cent compared to the full year 2019. 

Both B2C and B2B revenues have seen marginal contractions, falling by 0.6 per cent and 2.0 per cent respectively.

Over the last quarter of the 2020CY, display advertising held its place as the largest revenue category for digital publishers; with income reaching £78.4 million (AU$140.45 million), an increase of 16.8 per cent against the 2019 final quarter. 

Revenue from subscriptions and miscellaneous also contributed positively to publisher income, growing by 44.0 per cent, and 38.8 per cent respectively compared to Q4 2019.

Categories that didn’t perform as well include recruitment classifieds, sponsorship and online video income, which were down by -24.1 per cent, -19.3 per cent and -13.9 per cent respectively in the last quarter of 2020 compared to the last quarter in 2019. 

In the final quarter of the 2020 CY, B2C revenue reached £152.0 million (AU$272.28 million), an increase of 14.5 per cent from the last quarter of 2019, driven by increases in subscriptions (56.4 per cent) and miscellaneous (33.6 per cent) revenues. 

B2B revenues witnessed a slight reduction of 0.4 per cent from the same time in 2019, driven by a fall in revenues in sponsorship (-66 per cent) and recruitment classifieds (-54.1 per cent), but offset by rises in online video (88.3 per cent) and miscellaneous revenue (78.7 per cent).

AOP Managing Director Richard Reeves 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. 

“Recovering from the early 2020 decline in revenues, publishers’ hard work is clearly demonstrated by the strong performance in [the final quarter of] 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.”

Written by Staff writer

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