LONDON 8 APRIL 2008 - UK digital publishers experienced 52% increase in total digital revenues over the same period last year, in the Association of Online Publishers (AOP) sixth annual Census of AOP members published this week.

Additionally revenue from online advertising increased 33% and content revenue increased 68% from last year.

Two key trends are anticipated by AOP members for the online publishing industry in 2008: personalisation of content and targeting.

Ruth Brownlee, the recently appointed Director of the AOP comments, “I have joined the AOP at a very exciting time for the business and the industry. I think these figures show that our members are in a bullish mood and ready to take on the challenges and opportunities becoming available through technology and broadband take up. They are embracing new platforms and formats for the future - and are investing in getting the right people to make this happen within their organisations.”

Despite just over half of AOP members citing the economy as a threat to their businesses, they forecast total business growth for 2008 will be 8%, with digital expected to grow 31%. Just over 80% of AOP members say they will increase the number of digital staff hired this year, as 62% of members state that cross-media skills will be important in the future.

Nearly 80% of respondents said the current online advertising model was a sustainable revenue stream, with sources of advertising revenue being derived from display and sponsorship as the highest categories. However, members are looking to develop opportunities in other areas of online media. This was reinforced when AOP members were asked about the opportunities for their businesses; streaming content (70%); mobile (74%), user generated content (78%); behavioural targeting (84%) and high speed broadband (92%).

While threats to their businesses included Government/legal restrictions (38%); Google/Doubleclick deal (38%); the economy (54%); and competitors – including businesses that were moving into non-traditional areas, or not normally perceived as competitors – (64%).

Overall AOP members felt that it was their role to provide quality content across multiple platforms with 64% agreeing that publishers need to make content available on third party sites as well as their own. However, even with the growing popularity of user generated content, 64% of members felt that user generated content would not overtake professional content. AOP members viewed content delivery important, as all key methods saw an increase in investment in 2007: IPTV (+30%), mobile (+22%), vodcast (+22%), podcast (+17%) and RSS feeds (+9%).

2/AOP UK Census 2008

Key issues being championed this year by the AOP include accountability and calls for an online measurement tool standard; just over half of members said that a common online currency would be beneficial.

Ruth Brownlee, Director of AOP concludes, “The AOP invests extensively in audience research, and we will be tackling some of the issues through our active working groups: particularly how we can support a standard online measurement tool. Overall, I’m encouraged that our members are confident about the industry and we look forward to continuing the debates in AOP forums and conferences through the coming year.”

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Further information from:
Ruth Brownlee, Director AOP 020 7400 75100 ruth.brownlee@ukaop.org.uk
Lorette Nettar, PR for AOP 07968 521 684 lorette.nettar@ukaop.org.uk

Editor’s Notes

• The AOP Census, currently in its sixth year, is an annual survey of members’ businesses to provide an insight into the digital publishing industry, and provides a benchmark for members.
• Ruth Brownlee was appointed Director of the AOP in January 2008; she has over 10 years experience in digital media having been an instrumental figure in the growth of Handbag.com, Yahoo! and a key innovator in developing online partnerships at Channel 4.
• The survey, fieldwork, analysis and management for the AOP Census was conducted by Gawor Weeks Consultancy Ltd.
• Methodology: an email questionnaire was sent to a sample of AOP member companies (all AOP Board member companies took part), fieldwork was conducted from 6-25 January 2008 - collected on eight areas: general business activities; revenue and growth forecasts; advertising, content; e-commerce; online measurement; staffing levels; trends and opinions. The figures quoted are not audited and are provided as an indication of revenue derived by AOP members completing the survey and revenue section.
• Podcasting – distribution of (usually) audio media files for playback through portable media players and personal computers. Vodcasting – is a term used for online delivery of video on demand or video clip content can be accessed through digital media and TV. RSS is a family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated content such as news, podcasts, blog entries.

About AOP
The UK Association of Online Publishers (AOP) is the industry body representing online publishing companies that create original, branded, quality content. AOP champions the interests of companies from newspaper and magazine publishing, TV and radio broadcasting, and pure online media.

The AOP raises awareness, lobbies and addresses concerns relating to all areas of online publishing to industry and Government; covering topics such as paid-for-content, online subscription models, data protection, copyright, content management, new technologies and audience measurement.

AOP publishes original research including the annual Census now in its sixth year. It also hosts forums, conferences and events, where members can debate issues, meet peers and network. The AOP’s flagship event Online Publishing Conference & Awards will be held on 1 October 2008.

AOP Members include AN Digital, Bauer Consumer Media, BBC, BBC News Interactive, BBC Worldwide, BSkyB, Centaur Media Plc, Channel 4 New Media, CMP Information, CNET Networks UK, Dennis Publishing, Financial Times, Future, GCap Media, Guardian Media Group plc, Guardian News & Media, Haymarket Media Group, Hearst Digital, Incisive Media, Incisive Media Ltd, Independent New Ventures, IPC Media, ITV, News International Ltd, PPA, Reed Business Information, Reuters Group, Telegraph Media Group Ltd, The Condé Nast Publications (UK), The Economist Group, Trinity Mirror, TSL Education, Which? In addition, PPAi (PPA Interactive) retains a corporate seat on the AOP board: representing the interests of magazine publishers online. www.ukaop.org.uk

Published on: 12:00AM on 8th April 2008