Online publishers in ‘bullish mood’ despite economic downturn

Digital publishers in the UK saw a 52 per cent growth in total digital revenues last year, according to the Association of Online Publishers (AOP) annual census of its members.

The figures show the industry to be in ‘a bullish mood’ despite holding concerns over the economy’s impact on the industry, said Ruth Brownlee, director of the AOP, in a press release.

With regards to the future of the industry, members said high speed broadband provided the greatest opportunity for their businesses, while competition from non-traditional outlets is perceived as the biggest threat.

When questioned on content distribution 64 per cent of respondents said publishers should make their content available on third party websites, as well as a range of other platforms.

The figures suggest support for this distribution model with increased investment in IPTV (up 30%), mobile (20%), vodcasting (22%), podcasting (17%) and RSS feeds (9%).

The key findings from the census include:

  • members forecast an 8 per cent total business growth with digital expected to grow by 31 per cent;
  • 80 per cent of members expect to increase the number of digital staff hired this year with 62 per cent saying cross-media skills will be significant in the future;
  • revenue from online advertising increased by 33 per cent last year and 80 per cent of those questioned said the current online advertising model was ‘a sustainable revenue stream’;
  • high speed broadband (92%) and behavioural targeting (84%) are viewed as the biggest opportunities for business – other possibilities included content streaming (70%), mobile (74%) and user-generated content (84%).

Just over half of those questioned were in favour of a standard online measurement system – which would be a focus of the AOP’s working groups, Brownlee said.

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