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  1. Media Business
February 13, 2024

Growth in B2B events income offsets consumer media decline at DMGT

Print advertising revenue dropped by 16% in the year to 30 September 2023.

By Charlotte Tobitt

Mail publisher DMGT grew revenue in 2023 as a strong performance from UAE-headquartered B2B events division offset falling income at its UK consumer newsbrands.

Online advertising revenue from brands including Mail Online fell 3% year on year to £166m for the year to 30 September.

Print advertising is now DMGT’s smallest revenue stream after a 16% year-on-year decline.

Similarly The Guardian has reported overall advertising revenue down 16% year on year for the nine months to December.

DMGT owns the Mail titles, i, Metro and New Scientist. Mail Online has just introduced a partial paywall, while at the i digital subscriptions overtook print last year.

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Overall it made a pre-tax loss of £12.6m on turnover up 2% to £997m.

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But when one-off costs and accounting charges like “impairment of goodwill” are removed from the picture the group made an adjusted pre-tax profit of £41m.

Growth of £63m in revenue from events and exhibitions made up for a £33m drop in revenue from consumer media and a £7m fall in income from property information.

Circulation, excluding print subscriptions, remains the group’s biggest revenue source on £247m despite a 4% year-on-year decline.

Year-on-year comparisons are exacerbated by the 2022 financial year being a week longer (53 weeks) than 2023.

Consumer media revenue fell by 5%, primarily due to reduced advertising revenues, but remained the biggest part of the group on £624.5m, versus £210.3m for property information and £162.6m for events and exhibitions.

The property information division includes US-based data and analytics company Trepp and UK-based hybrid estate agency Yopa, for which DMGT increased its stake from 45% to 74% in January 2023 before fully consolidating it as a subsidiary.

DMGT’s events division is headquartered in the UAE and covers sectors including energy, construction, coatings, hospitality, leisure and interior design. Its biggest events the Abu Dhabi-based energy show ADIPEC, construction event Big 5 Dubai and Gastech in Singapore and overall it said they had continued to recover in both exhibitor demand and visitor attendance since the Covid-19 pandemic.

DMGT said it has five revenue types:

  • “subscriptions, notably in the US property information business and within consumer media
  • “circulation from sales of the paid-for newspapers
  • “advertising in the consumer media products
  • “events attendance and sponsorship revenues, notably exhibitor fees
  • “and revenues dependent on transaction volumes, notably of UK properties.”

‘Challenging advertising market’ hits DMGT

In total across DMGT, 28%, or £275m, of all revenues came from advertising (print and digital), down from 31% in 2022.

Some 11%, or £108m, of group revenues came from print advertising (down from 13%) while 36% came from print advertising and circulation together (down from 40%) and 16% from events (up from 10%).

Chairman Lord Rothermere, who took DMGT private at the end of 2021 after 90 years on the London Stock Exchange, said of the consumer media titles in the company's annual report: "Advertising prices were adversely affected by circulation volumes, which continued to decline as expected, as well as by a challenging advertising market, due to pressure on UK consumers’ real disposable income."

He added that revenue from sales of the Mail titles and i newspaper benefitted from cover price increases largely offsetting declining circulation volumes and that this "reflected an increased preference to subscribe to the titles". He alluded to "growth in print subscription revenues".

Lord Rothermere went on: "There was continued inflationary pressure on costs, with a notable increase in the price of newsprint, and increased investment in US-related editorial content.

"Consequently, given the reduction in advertising revenues, the profitability of the consumer media portfolio was adversely affected during the year and the adjusted operating margin reduced to 6% from 8%."

The consumer media division made a statutory pre-tax loss of £32.5m but an adjusted pre-tax profit of £39.4m.

In common with many media companies, DMGT made some job cuts as part of digital and seven-day restructuring in 2023.

The report said: "The board continued to review the consumer media businesses during the year. Matters considered included the impact on consumers of the increased cost of living, the long-term market conditions and the future outlook for business performance.

"It was decided that a restructuring of consumer media was necessary to reduce the operational cost base whilst also investing in US expansion to protect and enhance future revenue generation. Although the board sought to ensure that employee roles were relocated where possible, unfortunately a number of redundancies were necessary."

The consumer media division is the biggest at DMGT by headcount, making up 62% of the company. It had 2,608 employees on average in 2023 - down 1% from the previous year.

The total remuneration of DMGT's highest-paid director (unnamed but likely to be either Lord Rothermere or chief executive Tim Collier) was £6.5m, down from £8.4m in 2022.

More than three quarters (78%) of group revenues were made in the UK and 8% from North America. A year earlier the UK was higher on 84% but North America was the same, meaning a boost elsewhere in the world.

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Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
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