Digital Innovation Digital Publishing
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2021 AOP Awards: What publishers can learn from the finalists (Part One)

Eighteen months ago, the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic swung a wrecking ball across the digital publishing industry. In the UK, over £1 billion in advertising spend was pulled during the pandemic – at a time when digital publishers were being challenged to provide rapid and accurate information in a rapidly changing situation.

Despite this, the industry has bounced back stronger than ever, with digital publishers adapting to focus on new revenue streams, developing new ways to engage with their audiences, and keeping the focus on quality content. Subscription models, for example, saw a growth of 44% from Q4 2019 to Q4 2020.

The UK 2021 AOP Awards finalists are a shining example of the creativity, innovation, and ingenuity in the digital publishing sector. To put a spotlight on this hard work, the AOP has launched the ‘Celebrate the Finalists’ series – four themed weeks highlighting the strategies for successful growth, innovation, culture and quality. We are pleased to bring you this video and blog series exploring the factors which have supported the resilience and success of digital publishing companies over the past 18 months.

Firstly, to understand how publishers are laying the foundations for future growth, we reached out to our AOP Awards finalists to understand what strategies they were putting in place to diversify and grow their brands.

WEEK 1: The Essential Ingredients For Successful Growth In Digital Publishing

According to the latest Digital Publisher Revenue Index [DPRI], UK digital publishing revenues increased 13.1% from Q4 of 2019 to Q4 of 2020. For an industry that was looking down the barrel of the gun in early March of 2020, that’s a staggering achievement – and a testament to the innovation and resilience of digital publishing businesses. But what are the essential ingredients for continued growth? Here are some key quotes taken from our interviews with the finalists.

If we’ve learned anything from the pandemic in the last year, it’s got to be that any business which relies on a single revenue stream or a single business model can have challenges. I really think the key to growth is about diversifying.

Pete Wootton, Chief Product & Data Officer, Dennis Publishing

What we saw was a complete lift in impressions, but it was valuable impressions. The data part became really important on the audience side of things, and I think having the data strategies is really what’s allowed this growth to continue.

Jacqueline Boakye, RVP Customer Success, EMEA at PubMatic

The Licensing team has sought to holistically grow our audience ‘off-platform’ and in turn feedback data on ‘most read’ articles to our Audience, Data, and Editorial teams to ensure we continue to deliver the right content at the right time to build a strong relationship with new and existing readers.

Sophie Hanbury, Director of Syndication and Licensing Partnerships, Independent News and Digital Media

You can watch more on our discussions around DIGITAL PUBLISHER GROWTH here:

The UK 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.