Digital publishing revenues up by 31.9% in Q1

After a difficult past year, there are encouraging signs of things picking up in the digital advertising industry with publishing revenues up by 31%, according to data published by Deloitte and AOP. 

The Digital Publishers’ Revenue Index (DPRI) from the Association of Online Publishers (AOP) and Deloitte, revealed display advertising was the largest source of revenue for digital publishers; with income reaching £53.6m, an increase of 4.7% compared to Q1 in 2020. In addition to that, subscriptions also saw growth by 48.8% compared to Q1 in 2020. 

Both B2B and B2C publishers saw significant growth in digital revenues in Q1. B2B revenue increased by 11.1%, relative to Q1 2020, thanks in part to an increase in subscriptions (4.7%) and display advertising (18.7%). In comparison, by 34.2% to £139.2m, driven by large increases in subscriptions (64%). 

Although the industry saw an increase in revenue across the majority of departments, there were categories that did not perform as well in the last 12 months (ending March 2021). These included: recruitment ( down by 46.9%),sponsorship (down by 17.2%), and online video income (down by 23.1%).  Despite these decreases, there is optimism amongst AOP’s board members, that the industry can come back stronger post pandemic. 

Lead partner for telecommunications, media and entertainment, Dan Ison, Deloitte, said: “To see growth of 49% in subscription revenue in the first quarter of 2021 is staggering– in comparison, we saw a slight 4% increase in first three months of 2019 – and a clear sign that the industry may be building back stronger following the impact of the pandemic. New data from Deloitte’s Digital Consumer Trends research highlights that consumers aged 18-24 are the most likely age group to have access to a paid news-site or magazine subscription. Galvanising loyalty particularly among this age group should continue to be a key priority for publishers in the year ahead, alongside the development of content formats that appeal to new readers and subscribers”.

Managing director, AOP, Richard Reeves, echoes the thoughts of Dan Ison: "The rapid increase in digital revenues across almost all categories is extremely heartening, especially after the lows of last year. While there are clearly still long-term impacts of the pandemic it’s great to see the exceptional value and quality environments digital publishers can deliver is being recognised by the industry, demonstrated by the incredible performance in Q1 2021. With substantial growth in subscriptions, it’s great to see publishers continue to innovate and expand their offerings alongside digital advertising”.