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AOP Census '09 predicts 16% growth

The results from the seventh annual AOP Census survey released today reveals that UK online publishers predict a 16% growth in their digital revenues in 2009 – with digital revenues defined as income generated from various sources including online advertising (eg: display, classified, search); subscriptions; paid content, eCommerce, Sponsorship and commercial content.

Members can download the AOP Census 2009 report (login required).

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This unique, forward look at businesses in 2009 surveys AOP members: trusted publishing brands, with loyal and engaged audiences, which are in a key position to provide a snapshot of the online publishing industry.

As producers of original, branded, premium and quality content they represent a broad range of newspaper and magazine publishing, TV and radio broadcasting and pure online media companies. AOP member companies were responsible for a total in excess of £800m in digital revenues in 2008.

The Census was conducted from 9 February to 2 March 2009. Against the backdrop of economic uncertainty, digital publishers remain pragmatic about the long-term future of their businesses, but are intent on investing in people skills and business functions in 2009. 63% of online publishers expect to increase their digital investment this year, with only 7% anticipating a decrease in investment.

"Motivating insight" into mood of UK digital media industry

Alison Reay, AOP Chairman and Digital and Multimedia Director, Telegraph Media Group said: “Given the global trading climate we’re operating in, this is a motivating insight into the mood of UK publishers for the coming year – and it’s encouraging that they remain focused on developing their offering for their audiences in both B2B and B2C areas."

"AOP members are able to draw on a diverse range of revenue streams, and are less dependent on advertising income only. They are therefore able to offer a strong and credible stance in defending their business position in 2009.”

Pressure on advertising pricing and the development of multimedia sales teams are challenges that were raised by publishers in this year’s survey. Respondents to the Census have highlighted that they will invest in better skilled teams and technical infrastructure:

  • Priorities for investment identified are in building offline and online cross-media skilled teams (51%).
  • And also in technology and innovation (28%).

One of the main trends to emerge from the study is the move towards integration of staff across traditional and digital businesses: 65% of respondents expect more functions across departments to be integrated in 2009, including:

  • Advertising planning/research
  • Editorial
  • Product/brand research
  • Advertising sales

Training remains an important area of investment with 40% increasing their budgets, and 51% keeping their training budgets at the same level as 2008. Audience Development features regularly in the Census – in 2009 this is identified as the top skills priority for attention by members questioned.

New Structure for AOP Census 2009

In a change in format, the AOP Census has been split into two parts this year and was conducted in-house under the supervision of Tim Cain, AOP’s Head of Research and Insight, appointed in January 2009.

The initial Census report, detailed here, provides an overview of the online publishing industry and future planning, including business achievement and revenue.

The second part of the Census survey, due to be conducted and published later in the year and will cover content, content delivery, trends, opinions, threats and opportunities.

Tim Cain, AOP’s Head of Research and Insight added, “This year’s Census has highlighted that the revenue model for advertising doesn’t appear to be significantly shifting."

"While we’re seeing CPC increasingly adopted as a pricing mechanism (up 50% year-on-year) the advertising model is still predominantly led by CPM (89%) and sponsorship (84%), which are also being used more widely amongst publishers."

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