Publishers’ digital revenue static in Q1 – DPRI report

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The latest Digital Publishers’ Revenue Index or DPRI from the Association of Online Publishers and Deloitte has revealed that total digital revenue for the first quarter of 2023 was £151.8 million, up by 0.1% from Q1 2022.

DPRI report

Subscriptions strong

Subscriptions saw the strongest growth for the second consecutive quarter, up 18.3% compared to Q1 2022, adding to more than a year of steady growth in the category.

This suggests that, despite ongoing economic pressures and intense competition in the media space, the number of consumers willing to pay for quality content has not yet plateaued.

Display declines

On the other hand, display formats and video revenues both declined by 11.7% and 10% respectively following static growth in the previous quarter.

When splitting revenues by platform, desktop revenues continued to fall steadily, with this quarter seeing a drop of 11.5% year-on-year.

Mobile malaise

Unusually, mobile revenues also decreased, and by an even greater degree than desktop, falling 17.5% when compared to Q1 2022.

Whereas previous surveys saw revenues shift from desktop to mobile, it is now multi-platform revenues picking up the shortfall, returning 7.2% growth and bringing the category’s total revenue to £109.6 million.

Digital audio booming

Digital audio also returned to centre stage, with revenues up a massive 283.3%, from £600,000 to £2.3 million, representing a modest proportion of overall revenues but nonetheless a notable change.

An “off-platform” category — representing the likes of Facebook instant articles and Apple News — has been introduced to this quarter’s survey.

Off-platform returned £4 million in revenues although, as a new addition, figures are not yet steady enough to reveal trends.

Looking at sentiment, 75% of respondents showed strong confidence in advertising revenue growth in Q1 2023, up from 50% in Q1 2022.

Confidence in non-advertising revenues has seen an even greater increase, from 66% up to 100% — not surprising given the continued growth of subscriptions.

But, despite optimism, there are signs that economic pressures are being felt, with 75% prioritising cost reduction over the next 12 months, up from 50% in Q1 2022.

Dan Ison, lead partner for telecommunications, media and entertainment at Deloitte, said: “While subscription growth remains steady, publishers cannot be complacent.

“Consumers continue to adapt their shopping behaviours to maintain overall living standards as a result of high inflation.

“It’s no surprise that digital audio has seen an uplift in interest, especially after it has become a media form favoured by consumers post pandemic.

“Digital audio is an engaging format, helping to reach niche audiences and its notable ascent in revenue this quarter shows the potential it has, signalling the need for publishers to make further investments in this area.”

Richard Reeves, Managing Director at AOP, commented: “The growth of the multi-platform category shows that publishers are pursuing more complex and ambitious revenue streams and moving away from risky eggs-in-one-basket approaches.

“This talks to the fact publishers are having more big brand conversations and more direct dialogue with advertisers and agencies.

“I’m excited to see how the newly introduced “off-platform” category informs our findings going forward, as efficiently pushing content to as many channels as possible has become a core strategy for many of our members.”