The most recent Digital Publishers’ Revenue Index (DPRI) from the Association of Online Publishers (AOP) and Deloitte reveals that fourth-quarter revenues of digital publishers in the United Kingdom decreased by 1.8 percent annually.

This decline was primarily attributable to declining revenues from online video and display advertising. Although the findings did contain some encouraging indications, the authors of the report characterized it as a “wake up call” for publishers, cautioning against excessive dependence on primary advertising revenue streams.

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The DPRI’s findings are the result of an investigation into thirteen digital publishers in the United Kingdom, four B2B and nine B2C in nature. The average decline in total revenues for these publishers in 2023 was 0.5 percent, with a specific decline of 1.8 percent in the fourth quarter. In 2023, online video revenues decreased by 17.6% for the entire year and by 24.5 percent in the fourth quarter, whereas display advertising revenues decreased by 10.1% annually and by 17.2% in the fourth quarter.

Additional good news was included in other sections of the report. Additional revenue streams, including sponsorship and subscriptions, experienced substantial expansions of 10.3% and 31.1 percent in the fourth quarter, respectively. Although still relatively modest, digital audio revenue increased by 300 percent in the fourth quarter. Furthermore, while revenue declines affected not all publishers equally, half of those surveyed reported revenue growth in the fourth quarter.

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The growth of the remaining revenue streams is considerably less substantial than that of digital advertising; thus, the combined expansion of these streams failed to offset the decline in revenues from display ads and online videos. However, publishers might be compelled to rely more and more on these modest (yet expanding) revenue streams.

The results, according to Andy Cowen, lead partner for telecommunications, media, and entertainment at Deloitte, indicate that “publishers run the risk of relying on display revenues.” According to Richard Reeves, the managing director of the AOP, “diversification is unquestionably the future of publisher revenues.”

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Ad revenue has decreased for publishers that have relied on referrals from social platforms to drive traffic, according to Reeves. Concurrently, advertisers are becoming more interested in omnichannel campaigns. “Publishers who are considering diversifying their revenue streams would do well to consider the exponential growth of audio and the seemingly inexorable increase in subscriptions,” advised Reeves.

Indeed, publishers appear to be pursing this strategy. Priorities were established by all respondents to the DPRI survey regarding new products and non-advertising revenues.