Digiday Research: Publishers see double-digit revenue growth in 2021, agencies more bearish

different expectations

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 →

After one of the most trying, unpredictable years in memory, the media and marketing industries are looking forward to better days in 2021.

But publishers are more bullish about their prospects than their agency counterparts, with a much higher percentage predicting they’ll see strong revenue growth in 2021 compared to their agency counterparts, according to new Digiday research.

Two separate surveys found that 55% of publisher respondents said they expect double-digit revenue growth next year, and about one in six say that their company’s revenues will increase by more than 25%.

Source: 59 publisher professionals, 39 agency professionals
Digiday 2020 Year End Agency Survey

A healthy percentage of agency respondents – 45% – said that their companies would have double-digit revenue growth in 2021. But much bigger shares of the company were bearish about how the coming year would go. For example, a greater percentage of agency professionals (19%) said that their company’s revenues would be flat or down in 2021 than said that their revenues would be up more than 25% (12%).

Digiday surveyed 59 publisher professionals and 39 agency professionals over a two week period in December.

The difference in outlook could grow out of the largely positive impression most respondents had of their employers’ response to the year’s events.

Respondents from both industries agreed that the worlds of media and marketing had bad years in 2020. But respondents also overwhelmingly agreed that the company they worked for had a successful 2020: 64% of agencies agreed that their company had a successful 2020, as did 59% of publishers.

Source: 59 publisher professionals
Digiday 2020 Year End Agency Survey

Looking ahead to 2021, while publishers and advertisers feel confident about their company prospects in the new year, they are less bullish about their industries as a whole.

For example, 80% of them agreed that they were optimistic about their own company’s prospects, with 40% of them agreeing strongly. By contrast, just 56% of publisher respondents said they were optimistic about the media industry’s prospects in 2021, and only 15% strongly agreed.

Among agencies, there was similar confidence in the fortunes of their respective companies – 82% agreed that their company would have a strong 2021 – and even less enthusiasm for the idea that the advertising industry as a whole would bounce back. Just 7% of respondents strongly agreed that they were optimistic about the agency world’s prospects in 2021.

Source: 59 publisher professionals
Digiday 2020 Year End Agency Survey

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