Digital publishing revenue in the UK was up by an average of 12.3% year on year in the second quarter of 2022 compared to the year before.
Recruitment ad revenue was by far the biggest growth area for digital publishers between March and June, as they proved ready to take advantage of a “red-hot labour market”.
The latest Digital Publishers’ Revenue Index figures come from a survey by the Association of Online Publishers and Deloitte of 12 UK digital publishers – eight B2C and four B2B. For publishers included in the index, total digital revenue was £154.8m in the quarter, with half of them seeing year-on-year revenue growth in Q2.
Recruitment classifieds were up by 70.3% year-on-year in Q2, reaching £6.3m, with AOP managing director Richard Reeves saying this shows “how quickly the industry adapts to the needs of the market”.
However, other classified revenue dipped by 11.1%.
Display advertising remained the largest revenue sector for online publishers, bringing in £72.4m in Q2 – up by 28.6% from £56.3m the year before.
Online video revenue was up by 7.1% and subscriptions grew by 3.5%, but sponsorship revenue dropped by 9.7%.
The continued drop in desktop revenue was also notable: while mobile and multi-platform grew by 18.4% and 21.1% respectively in Q2, desktop-only revenue was down by 11%. AOP said this reflected the trend of campaigns now typically being run across at least two device types at once.
AOP managing director Richard Reeves said: "It’s encouraging to see continued growth in this challenging economic climate, and the rise in recruitment ad revenue shows how quickly the industry adapts to the needs of the market.
"Looking deeper, the ongoing decline of desktop has implications for publishers, as mobiles are better suited for shorter, 'snackier' editorial. While there is still demand for long-form content, I’d suggest this is being successfully catered to via channels such as newsletters."
The B2B publishers surveyed saw slightly larger growth than the B2C companies: B2B revenue was up by 16.3% to £55.7m in June on a 12-month rolling basis, which the AOP said was driven by a "significant expansion in display formats, classifieds, and subscriptions".
Meanwhile B2C revenue was up by 12.1% to £571.6m in June on a 12-month rolling basis.
Dan Ison, lead partner for telecommunications, media and entertainment at Deloitte, said: “A red-hot labour market has sparked significant growth within recruitment classified channels over the last year, with employers looking to use publishing to reach the attention of increasingly desirable talent.
"Meanwhile, the growth of multi-platform and mobile device revenue represents an ever-connected consumer, with nine in ten UK adults having access to a smartphone and more than three-quarters having access to a laptop computer.
"With many consumers looking to cut back their spend due to rising living costs, publishers must remain agile in responding to changing consumer demands. Generating engaging, multi-platform content that is accessible for every consumer will be key to maintaining consumer interest and revenue growth over the coming months."
Some 100% of publishers that responded to the survey said developing new products was a high priority for their business over the next year. Non-advertising revenue growth was a further priority for 83%.
But, as of the third quarter of this year, AOP said its "board members’ confidence in the industry and their companies has slightly declined, no doubt affected by the wider economic climate". AOP did not specify which publishers took part in this sentiment index but senior figures at The Independent, Future, Haymarket, The Telegraph and Incisive Media sit on its advisory board.
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