Digiday+ Research: Publishers are optimistic about revenue and hiring in the back half of the year

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The media industry has been through a lot in the last 12 months. And a lot can change in a year — just ask publishers.

That’s what Digiday+ Research did in its most recent survey of 35 publisher professionals. Specifically, we checked in with publishers on how their revenue and staffing is shaking out as the second half of the year really gets going. It turns out that while the last 12 months weren’t the best for media companies, publishers expect that things are looking up for the next 12.

Digiday’s survey found that, heading into the back half of 2023, publishers have had a rough go of it over the last year. More than a third of publishers (38%) said their overall revenue decreased significantly or somewhat in the past 12 months, and only slightly less than a third (32%) said their companies haven’t invested at all in overall staffing.

It’s not all bad news, though. Exactly half of publishers said their overall revenue increased significantly or somewhat in the past 12 months (although only 9% said it increased significantly). And 35% of publishers said their revenue decreased only somewhat, compared with just 3% who said it decreased significantly.

Meanwhile, more than a quarter of publishers said their companies invested a small amount (27%) or a medium amount (29%) in overall staffing. (Only 12% said they invested a large amount.)

Despite the less-than-ideal outcomes of the last 12 months, publishers see a lot of room for optimism heading into the next 12, Digiday’s survey found.

In fact, when asked what they expect to increase the most in the next 12 months, a whopping 80% of publishers said overall revenue. That choice was the overwhelming winner among respondents — the second-place choice was marketing spending at a much lower 17%.

Publishers aren’t quite as optimistic about staffing in the next year, but Digiday’s survey found that a good number of respondents do think their companies will invest in people in the coming months.

Forty percent of publisher pros said that, when thinking forward to the next 12 months, they expect their companies to invest the most in overall staffing. This puts staffing in second place in this particular category, with the highest percentage of publishers (83%) saying they expect their companies to invest in online marketing in the next year.


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