A survey of over 187 publishing companies with 911 consumer magazines, 855 B2B magazines, 413 newspapers and 1056 individual websites was undertaken in the UK and resulted in the report "Publishing Futures 2009" with strong similarities to the Australian market.
The Executive Summary of the report found that; "Despite the testing economic climate, the industry's underlying financials are looking remarkably robust. Total industry turnover is sliding rather than plunging and profit margins are holding steady, but this is at the price of headcount reduction and ruthless cost control, where marketing budgets in particular have suffered."
On the subject of advertising it was reported that; "Advertising is the revenue stream most under pressure. While online advertising is relatively buoyant, it is not replacing the print advertising losses and CPMs are much lower online than in print, creating a long-term and structural change in ad rates.
Publishers are approaching the whole advertising offer in a much more rigorous and creative way, reassessing the editorial and creating added-value, multi-platform advertising packages, tailoring the service to the requirements of the key accounts.
A recurring theme is that online is both the cause of much of the current volatility in the ad market and is also a key means of creating more advertising opportunities. While online competition is a major issue in specific markets, particularly in B2B and newspapers, it is still the competition between existing print products which is the central focus.
Yet a real question is whether the industry has the required staff skills and knowledge to make the most of the future?"
When it came to circulation the report states that; "Circulation sales on print brands are performing better than advertising sales, but this revenue stream still has its own pressures and issues.
On the retail side, there is a recognition that publishers need to be (and are actually becoming) more creative and proactive in working more closely with retailers to develop sales and to test new retail channels.
On the subscription side, there is a general feeling, especially among consumer publishers, that the industry is only just starting to get to grips with sophisticated and professional subscription marketing practices and as long as they can resource the channel properly, there is still great potential in subscription sales.
Increasingly, retail and subscription sales are being managed more holistically as two elements of a coordinated circulation strategy, but with each channel having its own dynamics and characteristics. Yet there is also a strong and steady drift from retail sales into subscriptions."
On marketing the report is; "marketing budgets form an area where severe cuts have already been made.
Looking to the future, marketing budgets are forecast to lag behind turnover and profit trends, so that the industry is clearly not investing back into the long-term health of its brands with as much conviction as it claims.
A very significant and rising proportion of the budget is being directed to online activity as developing web traffic is the industry's top area of marketing investment, with retail sales development coming well down the priority list."
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