AOP’s Organisation Census Reveals Six in Ten Publishers Expect Programmatic Partnerships to Increase in 2016

Findings from the Association for Online Publishing’s annual Organisation Census indicate that the need to enhance data usage is driving greater investment in automated processes

London, UK: The latest figures from the Association for Online Publishing’s eighth Organisation Census show that the shift towards streamlined media trading is gaining momentum, with 60% of publishers expecting the number of programmatic partnerships to rise in 2016, and a further eight in ten (80%) viewing data monetisation as a key area for expanding current business activity.

According to the 2016 study, which provides insight into the current UK digital publishing landscape, publishers are embracing more data-focused technologies. While 90% of publishers feel data storage is satisfactory, nearly as many (80%) feel data usage is a key area for development and, consequently, increased investment in marketing automation is anticipated by 50% of publishers.

This may also explain why 40% of publishers are looking to increase staff numbers within database and data analysis in 2016, and why the proportion of sales staff who are automated trading specialists is expected to increase from 8% in 2015 to 14%, in 2016.

The study found that staffing and skills development are set to be major areas of focus for publishers in 2016. A total of 70% of publishers expect to increase staffing, with key areas of skills enhancement cited as ad sales (60%), audience development (50%), and editorial and content (50%). Although recruiting data specialists, developers, and ad sales experts was also identified as a challenge by 35%, 30%, and 25% of publishers respectively.

Moreover, technology partnerships are increasingly shaping today’s UK publishing industry: half of publishers confirmed that data management (50%) is a prominent area of development, followed by social media (45%), and video desktop (45%).

The study revealed that digital revenues now account for almost half (48%) of the total UK business revenue. Around two-thirds (68%) of digital revenue is expected to arise from desktop.

In terms of digital audience, every respondent (100%) reported an increase in their smartphone audience over the past 12 months, with three-fifths (60%) experiencing a ‘major increase’. An increase in tablet audience was experienced by seven in ten respondents (70%). Desktop audience increased according to just over a third of participants (35%), but decreased according to the same number (35%) – a clear demonstration of the general migration of audiences to mobile.

The largest source of digital audience in 2015 was search at 36%, followed by direct traffic (i.e. typing in the URL or accessing via a bookmark) at 31%.

Despite the projected increase in staff levels, the study found that the greatest challenge for individual publishers in 2016 will be staff recruitment and retention. This is followed by diversification of business into new areas, innovation on creative solutions for advertisers, and programmatic trading. When asked about their perception of general challenges facing the industry, most publishers cited ad blocking.

Richard Reeves, Managing Director, AOP, commented: “This year’s AOP Organisation Census is indicative of an increasingly dynamic industry. Activation and monetisation of data is shown to be a key focus for publishers, who are embracing technology as well as recruiting a greater number of specialists in automated trading, data analysis, and creative partnerships with advertisers.

“We continue to see investment in staffing and skills development across many areas of our members’ businesses. This in turn has been reflected by recent developments at the AOP, including the introduction of an audience development group and the launch of an online resource hub with tools to assist the personal development of all grades of member employees across the publisher organisation.”

About the AOP Organisation Census

The 2016 study was conducted online between March and June 2016 among 20 AOP publisher members. Most data was collected pre-Brexit. The study aims to help provide understanding around the position of the digital publishing industry and allows AOP members to benchmark their own business performance and status against the wider market.

About the Association for Online Publishing

The Association for Online Publishing (AOP) is an industry body representing digital publishing companies that create original, branded, quality content. AOP champions the interests of media owners from diverse backgrounds including newspaper and magazine publishing, TV and radio broadcasting, and pure online media.

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