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% compared to the full year 2019. Both B2C and B2B revenues have seen marginal contractions, falling by 0.6% and 2.0% respectively.
Over Q4 2020, display advertising held its place as the largest revenue category for digital publishers; with income reaching £78.4 million, an increase of 16.8% against Q4 2019. Revenue from subscriptions and miscellaneous also contributed positively to publisher income, growing by 44.0%, and 38.8% 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%, -19.3% and -13.9% respectively in Q4 2020 compared to Q4 2019.
In Q4 2020, B2C revenue reached £152.0 million, an increase of 14.5% from £132.8 million in Q4 2019, driven by increases in subscriptions (56.4%) and miscellaneous (33.6%) revenues. B2B revenues witnessed a slight reduction of 0.4% from Q4 2019, driven by a fall in revenues in sponsorship (-66%) and recruitment classifieds (-54.1%), but offset by rises in online video (88.3%) and miscellaneous revenue (78.7%).
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.
Dan Ison, Lead Partner for Telecommunications, Media and Entertainment, Deloitte, commented: “Awareness of the damaging consequences of fake news has continued to swell over the past 12-months. As a result, UK consumers have increasingly sought out credible and trustworthy media commentary, which has sparked a 44% 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. Publishers must continue to fortify their readership's loyalty and trust, while investing in multi-platform content development. At a time when 18% of those earning less than £13,500 do not own or have access to a desktop or laptop computer, multi-platform content is essential to ensure every member of society is able to access quality journalism.”
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 that publishers have been able to deliver across the last 12-months.”
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