Future has announced its Full Year results for 2022, highlighting strong growth both in the U.S. and UK, its primary markets. However, macroeconomic headwinds are appearing on the horizon.
Future plc, the specialist media company whose brands include Techradar, Gamesradar+, The Week, Marie Claire and Music Week, has today announced its full-year results for 2022. Top-line highlights include:
- Global revenues of £825.4 million (36% revenue growth year-over-year)
- 27% increase across US and UK markets combined
- UK digital and print advertising growth is +10% and +22% respectively, whilst affiliates stand at +37%, events +47%, and subscriptions +68%
- Five acquisitions since October 2021 including Who What Wear, Dennis, Waive, WhatCulture and more recently Shortlist
- Future’s proprietary data platform, Aperture, has been used by over 472 advertisers
- Organic growth is more subdued. While digital and print ad sales are up by 7 percent and 5 percent, respectively, subscriptions are down by 11 percent.
Future’s share price fell 6 percent on the news with Investors’ Chronicle writing that the reasons for the drop weren’t immediately clear. However, the financial title suggested that Future’s expectations of modest profit growth for 2023 hinted business had ‘started to cool off’ which spooked investors.
In an interview ahead of the results, Future’s UK Group Commercial Director, Clare Dove told WNIP that the publisher views 2023 more optimistically than today’s share price drop would suggest, “2023 presents a really good opportunity. If you are a good business leader, then with challenge comes opportunity. Change is positive.”
We are not clairvoyants, so we know we have to have the skillset, experience and support to make good business decisions. We are confident in our abilities, we’ll be fine and actually, we’ll thrive.Clare Dove, UK Group Commercial Director, Future plc
As for the slowing, wider ad market, Dove says that the speed of change makes it harder to make cast iron predictions, “Years ago you could be confident about what the ad market was going to be like at least a year ahead. Now it’s become more difficult to predict over any specific length of time.”
Although it is difficult to predict what is around the corner, I am confident in our position going forwards. Our company structure and culture are so embedded, and we have a lot of really passionate and skilled leaders.Clare Dove, UK Group Commercial Director, Future plc
First-party data takes center stage
Dove also highlighted the importance of Future’s proprietary technology to its advertising business, notably its Aperture data platform which won AdExchanger’s Best Publisher First-Party Data Platform award in October, “First-party data is the future and we collect 1.5 billion data points every month. We’re talking here of a huge scale of data that we collect, which in turn gives us highly-valuable insights and demographics…… we’re delivering our clients’ advertising to a strongly defined audience in a passion-led contextual environment.”
Proprietary tech is one of Future’s superpowers. We’re not a tenant, we’re the landlord. We’ve always done things in-house rather than buying things in. It’s in our DNA and because of our agility we keep things updated consistently.Clare Dove, UK Group Commercial Director, Future plc
On the topic of eCommerce, a huge focus for the publisher, Dove says that many publishers make the error of looking at eCommerce as a seasonal revenue stream, “Ecomm must be an all-year-round strategy – it needs to be through time, not just in time – and your business model must reflect that.
“The user journey must be easy and needs to give the consumer good value. It must be a good experience, good value, and an all-year-round opportunity. It must also be sticky, for example ‘Who What Wear’ – our recent acquisition – does so much of the work already for consumers in terms of reviews, products, etc.”
We’re always looking at what consumers want and how best we can match that, as well as what our clients and partners want. You’ve got to match up all three things – the media brand, client brand and consumer need. If you can do that, you’ve hit the bullseye.Clare Dove, UK Group Commercial Director, Future plc
As for the future, Dove remains relentlessly upbeat, “One of the reasons I have stayed at Future for the length of time I have – 17 years – is I like change, I thrive on it, and I like the challenge. This situation (current business climate) presents me, as a leader, with the challenge I relish. We have 3,000 people in this business…it’s a pretty amazing team.”