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Publishers Rely on Ads, Not Subscriptions, for Growth

Nearly nine in 10 publishers think digital revenues will rise in the next year

Publishers appear positive about their digital future. That’s what May 2014 research by Cxense in conjunction with Editor & Publisher found, with 88.45% of US publishing executives polled saying their companies’ digital revenues would increase in the next year.

Among those who planned to increase their digital revenues, ad sales were the top channel through which they intended to do so, cited by 62.8% of respondents. Less than one-quarter of respondents said the same for paid subscriptions, indicating that news sources may have caught on to the fact that mobile users aren’t interested in paying for digital news.

As a result, publishing execs were more concerned about proving themselves to advertisers than to readers. Among those who believed digital publishing revenues would improve, “showing advertisers we understand our readers and can target effectively” was the primary way respondents thought they would do so. Converting readers to paid subscribers was not as important, and neither were personalized content or ads.

It’s no surprise that publishers are moving to digital to keep up with consumers. eMarketer estimates that 53.0% of the US adult population will read a print publication this year, with 50.0% reading newspapers in hard copy. Meanwhile, 83.0% of those 18 and older will access the internet, and nine in 10 will use mobile phones.

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