2014 Publishing Futures survey: Digital key driver behind multi-platform growth

Publishers of consumer magazine and business information brands are shifting to an increasingly multi-platform future driven by digital growth, according to the latest Publishing Futures survey from the Professional Publishers Association.
The annual bellwether report, which benchmarks the current and projected performance of the UK’s consumer magazine and business information publishers, highlights the continued influence of digital channels in driving growth.
The findings reveal that income from digital activities has increased to account for just under a third of revenues (32 per cent) on average across consumer and business publishers in 2013 – up from 15 per cent a year ago.
For consumer publishers, digital share more than doubled year-on-year to account for 18 per cent of revenues in 2013 compared with 8 per cent in last year’s survey. Print continues to make up the majority of revenues but its overall share has moved from 78 per cent to 73 per cent as publishers diversify further across a range of platforms.
For business information publishers, the survey underlined the diversity of business models and revenue profiles compared with consumer publishing, and the comparative importance of areas such as live events and high-value data content.
Barry McIlheney, CEO of the PPA, said: “Publishing Futures provides a unique snapshot of current activities and predicted trends across the entire UK publishing sector. This year’s survey contains encouraging signs for the industry as a whole: turnover, profit and headcount are all on the rise, and there is a continued trend towards an increasingly multi-platform, international future, driven by growth in digital, mobile and live events.
“However, it is clear that this growth is being matched by a need for sustained cost control; careful management of a shifting revenue base; and the need to prioritise investment in the right skills and technology for the future.”
Among the 106 survey respondents, a net of 74 per cent of companies forecast turnover growth for 2014, up from the 46 per cent who recorded turnover growth in 2013. In terms of profitability, 89 per cent of companies expect to be in profit in 2014, up from 74 per cent in 2013.
Jim Bilton, managing director of Wessenden Marketing and author of the report, said: “This year’s Publishing Futures survey shows that publishers are continuing the remodelling process of the past few years but are today more focused on seizing new opportunities rather than cutting costs. They are realistic about the challenges that lie in their way but are approaching them with greater confidence and optimism.”
Publishing Futures is an annual bellwether survey from the PPA carried out and produced by Wessenden Marketing. The 2014 survey is the fifth in the project’s history and comprises data from 106 UK consumer, business and customer publishers that are responsible for an average turnover of £3.5bn across more than 8,800 branded activities across print, websites, email, mobile and live events.
Further details from PPA

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