According to this year’s AOP Census, the focus for UK publishers for 2012 is now very much on expansion, both in core businesses and the launch of new products alongside acquisitions.
- 86% of publishers are expecting to launch new products into their existing markets
- 79% of publishers expect to expand their portfolios
- 35% of publishers are looking to launch into new markets, with a focus on tablet and smartphone apps
- 33% of publishers are looking at product acquisition in their existing markets
Tim Cain, Head of Research and Insight at AOP says: “This year’s Organisation Census presents a bullish view of growth by digital publishers in 2012. The market is strengthened by the growing adoption of mobile platforms, led by tablets. Innovation in technology is a key theme this year and collaboration by publishers allows them to move more swiftly and efficiently, and ultimately more competitively. On a staffing and development front, an increasing focus on data is driving publishers to develop new skillsets.”
As product portfolios diversify we can expect to see a growing emphasis on developing paid-for access to content. This year 68% of publishers are likely to introduce more paid-for elements to their portfolios, compared to 63% in 2011. Those who aren’t very likely to introduce more paid-for elements have shrunk year-on-year from 25% to 14% of publishers.
On the back of product growth expectations, there is an overall optimistic outlook for recruitment, despite the recurring downsizing that has occurred over the last two years. Sixty-six per cent are expecting growth in digital staffing in 2012 compared to the 55% who grew in 2011, a figure which in itself represented the biggest number of publishers increasing staffing levels since 2008.
The roles publishers are pursuing most vigorously are ad operations and database and data analysis, where half of all publishers are looking to recruit. The number of publishers looking to recruit advertising operations staff has doubled since 2011, while the number of publishers looking to recruit for database and data analysis roles has grown from 38% to 52%.
With commercial activity still at the forefront, there is also a strong focus on revenue generating staff, led by ad sales, where half of all publishers are also looking to recruit, while those looking to expand business development and ecommerce roles have both doubled year-on-year to 32% and 26% respectively.
With the focus for 2012 firmly on developing new products, and particularly apps, the Census also shows that 52% of publishers are looking to recruit staff in the areas of apps compared to 41% last year, with 48% for mobile development compared to 31% last year.
Ad sales has long been a key area for investment in skills and 56% of publishers expect to invest here in 2012, but alongside sales, the same number of publishers are committed to investing in ad operations, which is a massive increase on the 23% who were prepared to last year.
Product development (39%) and video production skills (36%) are both also increasingly being seen as areas of investment, rising respectively from 33% and 23% in 2011.
The 2012 Census shows a growing desire for collaboration between publishers when it comes to technology developments. Seventy-two per cent of publishers either currently do, or would aim to, collaborate or enter partnerships on technology developments with other publishers.
Eighty-four per cent of publishers are growing their investments in technology this year, an increase on 2011’s 78%. Other main areas of technical investment are led by 73% in both data (up from 63% last year) and video technical development (up from 56% last year).
Partnerships with tech companies are very much at the forefront of publishers’ strategies, and set to increase this year, with around 70% likely to increase tablet and mobile app partnerships and around 50% for video and data management.
On a wider scale, a trend towards publishers outsourcing is slowing, with only 13% expecting to increase outsourcing, compared to 21% the previous year.
Publishers recognise the challenges in growing their businesses are not insignificant. Their stated biggest challenges breakdown as follows:
- 53% of publishers state the economy and external market forces
- 50% of publishers state developing new revenue streams
- 42% of publishers state developing new products and making best use of data
- 36% of publishers state the ongoing challenge of recruiting the right people and skills development
- 36% of publishers state the developing of tablet and mobile apps
AOP members can access the full report via www.ukaop.org.uk/orgcensus2012.ExchangeWire