Digiday Research: Reader revenue is the top publisher priority for 2020

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 →

Growing direct reader revenue remains the biggest priority for publishers heading into 2020.

In a new survey of 135 publishers conducted by Digiday Research this fall, almost 46% of respondents said growing subscriptions were a major focus for them over the next six months. Other major priorities are building direct-sold ads: 64% of publishers said that was either a large focus or a very large focus area for them.

Neither comes as much of a surprise. Subscriptions are an important and controllable way to generate revenue. Sometimes that even comes at a lower resource allocation cost — Digiday Research conducted last year found that 75% of publishers surveyed allocated less than 25% of their company’s resources to subscription products. In an increasingly unstable digital advertiser landscape, any way to have sustainable revenue streams is a priority.


Selling ads direct can be more difficult, but publishers so far have found that it’s a bright spot when it comes to revenue. More than 50% of publishers reported this year that direct-sold was a large or very large source of revenue.

Publishers with more than $50 million in revenue plan to focus largely on subscriptions, video advertising and growing ad revenue, both in programmatic ads and direct-sold advertising.

Publishers with under $50 million in revenue are also focused on advertising, but subscriptions are slightly less important.


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