Everybody knows that it’s tough out there. There are glimmers of hope but the global recession marches onward.

One thing that hasn’t been so clear: just how bad (or not-so-bad) the situation is.

If the wisdom of the crowd is accurate, UK online publishers will see their revenue growth halve in 2009. That’s according to a member survey conducted by the Association of Online Publishers (AOP).

AOP members in the UK pulled in £800 online in 2008 and if they’re right about their growth estimates, they’re anticipating 16% growth in revenues in 2009, down from the 31% growth they projected in 2008. While that sounds bad, it’s worth keeping in mind that 16% growth is something many companies in shrinking industries would kill for.

The good news: 63% of the AOP publishers surveyed plan to increase their investments online. Much of the investment will be related to consolidating print and online staff and integrating various departments which may currently be split along traditional and digital lines. These types of investments make sense and should help publishers with traditional and digital operations cut unnecessary expenses.

But it’s not just about finding ways to save money; 40% of the AOP publishers surveyed plan to increase their training budgets and 28% plan to invest in technology and innovation.

Another important point: many AOP publishers are not 100% dependent on advertising revenue. This is a huge plus in today’s economy, as AOP Chairman Alison Reay, who is also Multimedia Director of Telegraph Media Group, stated:

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.

That does seem to be the case since revenue growth is still being seen when so many other industries are seeing revenue contraction. For online publishers that can ways to invest in the future, cut expenses and maintain some momentum, weathering the storm and coming out in better shape seems to be a real prospect.

Photo credit: RachelH_ via Flickr.