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aopThe Association of Online Publishers (AOP) launches Content & Trends Census 2010

LONDON 27 September 2010: The UK digital publishing industry demonstrates that it is embracing innovation, as emerging technologies are at the heart of business development plans over the next 12 months, according to the latest Association of Online Publishers (AOP) Content and Trends Census. Publishers see mobile devices and in particular the iPad as pivotal in creating opportunities to develop into world class media businesses, the theme of next month’s AOP Digital Publishing Summit. The Census suggests a period of dynamic growth and diversification lies ahead over the next 12 months as digital publishers look to seize opportunities from creative technology developments.

The Content & Trends Census is a forward look at the UK publishing industry through responses - this year from 36 Board and Affiliate AOP Members representing over 1500 respected brands and publications over June/July 2010 - about business models, content delivery mechanisms and what publishers feel are the current opportunities, threats and future trends.  The unique survey, now in its eighth year, shows that publishers are investing in emerging platforms to develop business streams and ways to successfully monetise content.

New devices are seen as a transformational opportunity, not least around the economies of web publishing, 60% of publishers agree that more local and “niche” digital content is crucial.  People are still key, and recruitment and skills development, an area of focus that came through in the Organisation Census in March this year, are seen as major challenges for the digital publishing industry.

Mobile & Apps

Half of the AOP members surveyed are currently delivering content, free and monetised, by mobile app.  Hot on the heels of the Apple tablet launch this year, 1 in 6 publishers are already providing iPad apps.  Interestingly, more publishers are looking at developing free apps with elements of paid features than any other type of charging model over the next 12 months.

This year, 72% of publishers currently have mobile sites within their portfolios, and a further 25% expect to provide mobile sites in the next 12 months.  Year on year, 65% of publishers expect to increase their mobile content, whilst content delivered via apps will increase for 91% of publishers.

The growth in apps has been phenomenal: only 12% of publishers had “paid” apps last year, compared to 40% of publishers in 2010; while 37% of publishers had “free” apps last year, compared to 60% of publishers in 2010.

The app is seen as the most significant route for mobile internet revenue opportunities according to respondents: via subscription services (61%); sponsorship (55%); and in-app ads (46%).


Mobile internet dominates publisher thinking, 9 out of 10 publishers seeing opportunities for their businesses in the next 12 months in this area; this accounted for the top five ranked opportunities.  After mobile, other opportunities identified were high speed broadband, community/social networking, eCommerce, paid content and behavioural targeting.


Overall, threats were less of a worry with proportionately lower ratings than last year.  The economy, whilst still seen as a threat by half of the publishers surveyed, has significantly scaled back from last year when the economy was seen as a threat by 70%.  Interestingly, rights and copyright has become a threat for twice as many publishers, accounting for 42% of respondents, possibly attributed to the rise in video content.

The AOP Census is a view of the digital landscape based on responses and data exclusively from its membership of premium publishers reviewing trends and actual activity as well as a forecast of their businesses over the next 12 months.

Lee Baker, Director of AOP, comments, “The AOP Census is the definitive view of the digital publishing landscape. The level of insight we gain about publishers businesses currently, and the direction in which the industry is going, is of incredible value to our members, advertisers, agencies and those companies that service the industry.  This year, the Census has shown the diversity of business models used by publishers – they’ve embraced new technologies and platforms to interact with their audience to operate on a global platform.  Above all respondents to this year’s survey have shown continued investment in people, innovation and their businesses.”

When identifying opportunities for monetising content by platform, 38% of publishers predominantly see their own website as the main platform for paid content, with an almost equal split view between iPad/eReaders and tablets (19%) and mobile apps from publishers’ own sites and from iTunes and other stores (18%).

Tim Cain, Head of Research and Insight of AOP, added, “When talking about the digital landscape, publishers have generally re-affirmed their belief in the traditional online revenue model with eight out of ten publishers agreeing that Advertising will dominate revenue generation for some time yet, despite the growth of interest and support for paid content opportunities where publishers see emerging platforms as pivotal to their growth over the next 12 months. The second most significant industry viewpoint is that quality recruitment and development of skills are amongst the biggest challenges for the digital publishing industry, which is in line with earlier findings of the Organisation Census from Spring this year”.

The AOP Census has been conducted annually since 2002, it was divided into two separate reports in 2009.  The Organisation Census, published in Spring, focuses on business functions, people issues, revenues and investments and key challenges; the Content & Trends Census, published in Autumn, concentrates on content models and platforms, and publishers views on the digital landscape - threats, opportunities and key trends.

The annual, one-day, flagship AOP Digital Publishing Summit with the theme “Building World Class Digital Media Businesses” will be held at Westminster Bridge Park Plaza on 15 October 2010.  www.ukaop.org.uk/aopsummit2010.

Further information from:

Tim Cain, Head of Research and Insight, AOP - 020 7400 7510 : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Lorette Nettar, PR, AOP – 07968 521 684 : This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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 June-July 2010 collected on key areas: business models, content delivery mechanisms, mobile and apps, video, social media, digital landscape – opportunities, threats and trends

¨     This is the second year that the Census has been split into an “Organisation” survey published in Spring, and a “Content & Trends” survey published in Autumn 2010

¨     The AOP announced its independence from PPA in January 2010.

¨     AOP members represent the broad range of newspaper and magazine publishing, TV and radio broadcasting and pure online media in the UK: producers of original, branded, premium and quality content.

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