The results from the annual Organisation Census released today by AOP show the industry is optimistic for 2010.

All the media owners who took part in the survey, representing 1,500 publications and brands, are predicting positive revenue growth in 2010, with 50% of respondents predicting strong growth of 10%+. The main areas for growth are expected to be in display ads, with video particularly expected to show significant growth this year, whilst a range of other revenue streams will increasingly contribute to turnover.

Tim Faircliff, General Manager of Consumer Media at Thomson Reuters and Chairman of AOP stated: “The findings from the AOP census are broadly consistent with how I see the year panning out for Thomson Reuters and the industry. A return to growth will provide all our businesses with a renewed energy and focus on people skills, revenue generation and business models plus the opportunity for exciting innovation around mobile and video. The challenge will be how fast we can gear up to drive these initiatives forward.”

The AOP Census had a 100% response rate this year, and across the board, media owners are planning proactive and positive investment in the year ahead for their businesses. Of the respondents, 75% were planning to increase overall investment in their digital businesses. Just under half will increase their investment in training, whilst a similar number will keep their current level of investment.

Staffing levels look set to rise with over 50% of media owners expecting to increase staff in 2010 a far higher number than in 2009. Despite this, media owners are still finding it hard to fill vacancies in most disciplines, editorial being the notable exception. Finding quality staff and retaining them will be an ongoing challenge in 2010.

The skills areas where most media owners are likely to be applying investment this year are led by mobile (75%) and cross-media (53%); whilst over 40% of media owners will also invest in database and audience development, video, advertising operations, and the core skills of editorial, sales, research and marketing.

Priorities for investment though clearly suggest that ad sales is the area most will support, 48% suggesting it’s a top 3 priority for their business, followed by 33% who see editorial skills as a top 3 priority and then 25% who view database and data analysis skills in a similar vein. Advertising will continue to be a major contributor despite the growth of interest in pay walls and diversification of revenue streams, and skill-sets will need to be developed around both sales and analytics challenges as trading rules continue to develop in terms of sophistication. The focus on new skills and re-skilling existing staff will be at the core of every media owner’s agenda in 2010 as people issues gain more prominence.

Broadening and diversifying business models is the single biggest challenge publishers believe they face this year. They are gearing up by creating investment in the key skills areas highlighted earlier but also by developing technology partnerships to advance faster and more efficiently. Publishers have identified that achieving the right investment levels to deliver the technology requirements is also a significant challenge and 60% of media owners plan to increase their partner activity in 2010 as they strive to establish new platforms and revenue models.
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2/ AOP Organisation Census 2010

In line with the drive to diversification, the top five key challenges to development that AOP members are concentrating on are mobile and apps development (51%); measurement of ROI (41%) database development and utilisation (40%); CMS and API changes (34%) and people skills development (30%) which underpins the success of all areas.

Lee Baker, Director of AOP commented: “The Census continues to guide the AOP in setting the goals that will help enhance and better our member’s business. With the clarity of view that the survey provides, I am confident about tackling the year ahead. As media owners step up their investment, AOP will be providing the focus for their key business decisions. The insight we have acquired from an unrivalled research project like this will inform all of AOP output, including our Awards event in June – the celebration of publisher investment and innovation.”

The AOP Organisation Census is a unique survey of its members: trusted publishing brands which are in a key position to provide a benchmark to members of the online publishing industry. As producers of original, branded, premium and quality content they represent the broad range of newspaper and magazine publishing, TV and radio broadcasting and pure online media. Information was collected on four areas: brands and business functions, staffing and skills, revenues and investments and future challenges

Tim Cain, Head of Research and Insight at AOP concluded: “The Organisation Census represents the views of the entire AOP publisher membership, providing a solid barometer of the digital publishing industry for the year ahead. The Organisation Census format is in its second year, although the AOP Census was first published in 2002, and is growing in its breadth to reflect both the structural issues that underpin digital publisher’s businesses and the diversification of business challenges and opportunities that are emerging.”

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Further information from:
Tim Cain, Head of Research and Insight, AOP
- 020 7400 7510 : tim.cain@ukaop.org.uk
Lorette Nettar, PR, AOP – 07968 521 684 : lorette.nettar@ukaop.org.uk

Editor’s Notes
• The AOP Census, currently in its eighth year, is an annual survey of AOP members’ businesses to provide an insight into the digital publishing industry, and provides a benchmark for members
• The survey, fieldwork, analysis and management of the AOP Census was conducted by Tim Cain, Head of Research and Insight at AOP
• Methodology for Organisation Census: an online questionnaire was sent to AOP member companies. Fieldwork was conducted from 15 January-8 February 2010 collected on four areas: brands and business functions, staffing and skills, revenues and investments and future challenges
• This is the second year that the Census has been split into an “Organisation” survey published in Spring, and a “Content & Trends” survey due to be published in Summer 2010
• Lee Baker, Director of AOP was appointed in September 2009. Tim Faircliff – General Manager of Consumer Media at Thomson Reuters – is Chairman of AOP
• The AOP announced its independence from PPA in January 2010.


3/ AOP Organisation Census 2010

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, 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 seventh year. It also hosts forums, conferences and events, where members can debate issues, meet peers and network.

The AOP hosts two annual flagship industry events, the AOP Digital Publishing Awards which will be held on 10 June 2010, and the AOP Digital Publishing Summit will be held in October 2010.

AOP Members include AN Digital, Bauer Consumer Media, BSkyB, CBS Interactive, Channel 4 New Media, Condé Nast Digital, Economist Group, Financial Times, Future Publishing, Global Radio, Guardian Media Group, Haymarket Media Group, Incisive Media, Independent New Ventures, IPC Media, ITV, The National Magazine Company, News International Ltd, PPA, Reed Business Information, Telegraph Media Group Ltd, Thomson Reuters, Trader Media, Trinity Mirror, TSL Education, Which? www.ukaop.org.uk

Published on: 10:18AM on 17th March 2010