Publishers reported a 500% increase in digital audio revenue in the first quarter of 2022, according to the Digital Publishers’ Revenue Index (DPRI).
Among the sample of 12 publishers included in the report, which was produced by the Association of Online Publishers (AOP) and Deloitte, audio revenue hit £4.2m in the first quarter of this year. This was six times what they made in the first quarter of 2021.
Earlier this year, Press Gazette reported that podcasts, once a fringe add-on, are now an integral part of many publishers’ offerings. Advancements in podcast ad tech mean that advertisers are now better able to measure their return on investment, resulting in a willingness to pay more for podcast ads.
The digital audio revenue growth captured in the latest DPRI reflects an emerging trend.
AOP managing director Richard Reeves said: “We’ve seen revenue for digital audio grow steadily over the last few quarters, driven in part by what’s being deemed the ‘golden age of podcasts’. The 500% revenue growth reported for this channel in Q1 2022 demonstrates that publishers are now successfully monetising this type of content.”
Dan Ison, lead partner for telecommunications, media and entertainment at Deloitte, said: “Many digital publishers have looked to the airwaves for growth in the past two years, launching radio offerings and podcasts that entice new audiences and spark rising revenues.
“We know there are as many daily podcast listeners as there are online radio listeners, with one in ten UK adults under the age of 25 now having access to a paid-for podcast subscription. Tuning into content throughout the day – whether that’s while commuting, preparing dinner or driving the car – creates an intimate experience for audiences while engendering loyalty.
“At a time when the cost-of-living crisis is squeezing household finances, many will be questioning the necessity of their media subscriptions. This makes it all the more important for publishers to be concentrating on the creation of regular, unmissable content.”
Even niche podcasts with a small audiences can potentially net publishers significant sums. DC Thomson has found financial success with some of its most specialist output. The publisher’s head of podcasts Christopher Phin told a panel in March that its B2B Energy Voice Out Loud show was its biggest-earning podcast.
The growth in audio revenues comes within the context of strong overall growth in digital revenue for AOP publishers. Total digital revenue grew 18% reaching £610.3m in the 12 months to the end of Q1 2022, compared to the previous 12 months.
Overall, the publishers made £151.6m in revenue from their digital products in the first three months of this year, with 50% of those asked reporting positive growth.
Subscriptions were also a good digital income stream for publishers. They were up almost 15% in Q1 2022 to £38.2m. AOP member The Telegraph recently reported that its pre-tax profits were up, driven by better than anticipated 40% growth in digital subscription revenues.
While AOP and Deloitte said that this showed that readers remain willing to pay for quality journalism, display advertising remained the largest revenue category for digital publishers.
The publishers made £66.4m from online advertising in the first three months of this year - up 24% on the same period in 2021. Over four-fifths (83%) of publishers who responded to AOP and Deloitte's survey said advertising revenue growth was going to be a key business priority in the coming 12 months.
Multi-platform advertising also showed strong growth. Revenue from campaigns straddling multiple channels was up 22% compared to Q1 2021. In contrast, mobile and desktop advertising revenues were down 16% and 35% respectively as many campaigns are now run across at least two devices to better reflect how consumers access media.
The drop in revenue for mobile and desktop-only devices "indicates the continued shift towards multi-channel campaigns", said Reeve.
The AOP's members include many of the UK’s leading B2B and B2C publishers including Bauer, Future, News UK, Haymarket and Mail Metro Media.
According to the Index, both B2B and B2C publishers saw digital revenue success. B2B publishers’ income increased by 8.7% in the year to March 2022 to reaching £52.7 m, compared to the previous 12 months. Meanwhile consumer media digital revenues were up 24.3%.
While the eight B2C publishers and four B2B publishers surveyed indicated that they would be focusing on new products in the coming year, they cautioned that reducing costs was also important.
This edition of the quarterly DPRI revenue index records a look-back of data over Q1 2022 but the AOP also shared observations from its publisher sentiment index which considered board member observations given in Q2 2022 to provide a timelier understanding of current feelings.
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