Digiday+ Research: Most publishers agree a recession is coming, but a third haven’t done anything to prepare

This research is based on unique data collected from our proprietary audience of publisher, agency, brand and tech insiders. It’s available to Digiday+ members. More from the series →

Companies across the media and marketing industries are bracing for what a potential recession would mean for their businesses. And while we’re not technically in an official recession, Digiday surveyed 55 publisher professionals to find out how the industry is preparing — or not.

As publishers look to diversify their revenue streams in the next six months, it should come as no surprise that they’re expecting an actual recession. Digiday’s survey found that the vast majority of publishers agree we’ll be in a recession within the next year: 67% of respondents said they agree somewhat or strongly that a recession will occur within the next six months and 65% said they agree somewhat or strongly we will see a recession within the next 12 months. Meanwhile, only 4% said they disagree strongly that we’ll be in a recession in the next six months and only 2% disagree strongly that a recession will happen in the next 12.

However, worry concerning an impending recession and the actions publishers are taking to prepare are not proportional to the high percentage of respondents who told Digiday they expect a recession to hit in the near term.

In fact, publisher pros were pretty split on whether they’re worried about their jobs or companies should a recession take place. One-third of respondents to Digiday’s survey said they agree somewhat or strongly that they would be worried about their jobs if we enter into a recession, while 49% agree they would worry about their companies. These two percentages are significant — but so are their counterparts. Forty-four percent of publishers said they disagree somewhat or strongly that they would worry about their jobs if a recession comes to fruition, and 40% disagree that they would be worried about their companies.

Very interestingly, more than a third of respondents to Digiday’s survey said their company hasn’t done anything to prepare for a recession, despite the fact that so many publishers think a recession is coming. This is made more interesting by the fact that big players including The New York Times, BuzzFeed and Gannett have already reported taking preemptive actions including cutting marketing spend, slowing hiring and even reducing headcount.

When asked what their company has done in advance of a recession, nothing was the third most-popular answer, with 35% of respondents saying their company hasn’t made any preparations. Forty percent of publisher pros said their companies have instituted hiring freezes or slowdowns and 38% said their companies have cut travel and entertainment spending. Other notable actions include cutting marketing spending (29% of respondents said their companies have done this) and delaying pay increases or bonuses (22% said their companies have taken this action).


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