Digital ad sales increase 25% to keep Future on track

Strong revenue growth from digital ad sales and its customer publishing business helped keep specialist magazine publisher Future trading in line with expectations, the company reported.

Future said this morning digital advertising revenue was up 25 per cent year on year in the 18 weeks from 1 October, more than compensating for a ten per cent decline in print ad revenue over the same period.

Publishing an interim management statement incorporating its first quarter results this morning, Future said digital sales now accounted for 32 per cent of total ad revenue.

Revenue from Future’s customer publishing business rose 18 per cent year on year in the period, the company said, helping commercial revenue compensate for pressure on circulation sales.

Overall, ad revenue rose two per cent and circulation revenue fell six per cent year on year in the first quarter of Future’s financial year – the three months to the end of December.

In the UK, which comprises 70 per cent of Future’s overall revenue, circulation revenue in the quarter fell four per cent year on year as advertising revenue grew by seven per cent, driven by digital improvements.

Revenue from the UK business dropped two per cent in the first quarter, in line with the company’s overall drop in revenue, mainly as a result of a ten per cent year-on-year decline in Future’s customer publishing division.

However, vast improvements in Future’s US customer publishing business, where revenue increased 62 per cent year on year, lead to the overall increase in this sector of the business.

Elsewhere in Future’s US wing, circulation revenue dropped 12 per cent year on year in the quarter and ad revenue dropped six per cent year on year.

Future said its trading backdrop in both the UK and US continued to be fragile and it was intent on refocusing its business on its growth areas.

“Globally, we have again achieved a significant increase in customer publishing revenues, up 18 per cent year-on-year,” the company said.

“During the quarter we launched a number of new products – a dozen apps; a new print publication on all things Apple – Tap! – and we saw revenues from our digital magazine sales increase substantially.

“The changing mix of our business continues but at an ever faster pace.”

Future said it intended to invest some of the 2010 US tax rebate the company received improving its digital production capabilities and that net debt as of December 31 was £14.6m, down 28 per cent year-on-year.

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