View all newsletters
Sign up for our free email newsletters

Fighting for quality news media in the digital age.

  1. Media Business
March 19, 2024

Online publishers hit by declining Facebook and advertising revenue in 2023

Audio and subscriptions were noted as bright spots in Q4 2023.

By Charlotte Tobitt

Off-platform revenues on mobile fell by 86% in the final quarter of 2023 among a sample of UK online news publishers, according to a new survey.

The year-on-year decline was attributed to Facebook’s decision to deprioritise news in user feeds.

Off-platform revenues relate to income made by publishers on third-party channels like Facebook, Youtube and Tiktok. Overall off-platform revenue for publishers (including desktop and desktop/mobile) were down 46.5%.

The survey of nine B2C publishers and four B2B publishers in the UK was conducted by the Association of Online Publishers and Deloitte to put together the Digital Publishers’ Revenue Index.

Overall digital revenue for the quarter was down 1.8% compared to Q4 2022 although half of the 13 publishers reported positive revenue growth for the quarter. The represented publishers reported a total of £174m in digital revenue in the period.

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.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

New products and non-advertising revenues were cited as growing priorities by publishers. Notably cost reductions also increased in importance, with 75% saying they were a priority compared to 50% in Q3.

Content from our partners
<a></a>Key ways to futureproof your media career as journalism job cuts bite deep
Slow online ads cost UK publishers £50m a year: Here's how to fix them
Mather Economics and InsurAds combine to help publishers boost revenue

The digital areas seeing strong year-on-year revenue growth in the quarter were:

  • audio, up 300%
  • miscellaneous (likely attributed to monetisation of first-party data) – up 117.6%
  • sponsorships, up 31.1%
  • subscriptions, up 10.3%.

Audio, sponsorships and subscriptions together increased total revenues at the 13 surveyed publishers by £12.6m.

Howeve,r these growth areas were not enough to make up for a 17.2% fall in display advertising revenues, accounting for £13.3m at these publishers amid an industry-wide downturn over the past year.

The challenges to ad revenues are expected to continue with Google phasing out third-party cookies on its dominant Chrome browser this year and ICO rules making it easier for users to “reject all” personalised advertising on publisher sites.

Video advertising revenues were down by 24.5% year on year, although this had a smaller impact as they made up only 4.6% of total revenues.

Andy Cowen, lead partner for telecommunications, media and entertainment at Deloitte, said: “This quarter’s results are a wake-up call suggesting that relying on display revenues is a risk for publishers, as subscriptions continue growing year on year.

"Audio meanwhile is a small but bright star, recording a 300% increase this quarter, following a 500% increase the previous quarter. Should this trend continue, this currently modest category could become a key revenue driver, and should be a priority for publishers seeking diversified, incremental growth.”

Advertisers are increasingly prioritising multi-platform campaigns, it was noted, with multi-platform revenues up by 17.3% versus mobile and desktop-specific revenues down by 54.5% and 33.8% respectively.

In display revenues, multi-platform was down by 1.8% with bigger declines of 37.9% in mobile and 31.2% in desktop.

Richard Reeves, the AOP’s managing director, said: “The future of publisher revenues is clearly in diversification, and the gulf between multi-platform and platform-specific revenues widens. This is partly down to platform decisions - an 86.4% fall in off-platform revenues on mobile is no doubt tied to Facebook’s decision to cut referrals - but also due to the multi-device nature of modern content consumption and advertisers’ resulting preference for omnichannel campaigns.

"Publishers planning to put their revenue eggs in many baskets would be wise to pay attention to audio’s meteoric growth, as well as the seemingly unstoppable rise in subscriptions.”

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

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.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

Websites in our network