UK digital publishing revenues increase 13.1 per cent compared to same time last year – AOP and Deloitte

Digital publishing revenues in the UK increased to £165.1 million (US$229.52 million) in Q4 2020, up by 13.1 per cent in comparison to Q4 2019, according to the latest quarterly Digital Publishers’ Revenue Index (DPRI) from the Association of Online Publishers (AOP) and Deloitte. 

Subscriptions and ads drive growth

This success is largely attributable to a 44.0 per cent increase in subscriptions and 16.8 per cent growth in display advertising, amidst a boom for digital subscriptions across the board.

Over Q4 2020, display advertising held its place as the largest revenue category for digital publishers, with income reaching £78.4 million (US$108.96 million), an increase of 16.8 per cent against Q4 2019. Revenue from miscellaneous also grew by an impressive 38.8 per cent respectively compared to Q4 2019. 

A mixed bag for B2B and B2C

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. 

Categories that didn’t perform as well include recruitment classifieds, sponsorship and online video income, which were down by -24.1, -19.3, and -13.9 per cent respectively in Q4 2020 compared to Q4 2019. 

In Q4 2020, B2C revenue reached £152.0 million (US$211.29 million), an increase of 14.5 per cent from £132.8 million (US$184.60 million) in Q4 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 Q4 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).

Confidence boost for publishers

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.

Awareness of the damaging consequences of fake news has continued to swell over the past 12-months,” said Dan Ison, Lead Partner for Telecommunications, Media and Entertainment, Deloitte. “As a result, UK consumers have increasingly sought out credible and trustworthy media commentary, which has sparked a 44 per cent rise in paid-for subscriptions. This has provided the digital publishing industry with a strong foundation for future growth and a clear direction for innovation.”

Richard Reeves, Managing Director, AOP, commented: “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 Q4 2020. It’s very positive to see the bounce-back in advertising display revenue to go alongside the positive growth in subscriptions.”

The Q4 2020 DPRI report – conducted by AOP and Deloitte – is based on a survey of 18 UK digital publishers comprising 14 B2C publishers and four B2B publishers. The aim of the report is to provide an overview of revenue levels across multiple channels and platforms, as well as insight into publisher sentiment, and to benchmark these findings against previous quarters. 

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