Display advertising remains the single largest source of revenue for the UK’s publishing industry, contributing 46% of a total £416.2 million throughout 2015.

Total digital revenue grew 5.2% over the year.  

The positive findings come from a joint report by the UK’s Association of Online Publishers (AOP) and Deloitte’s Digital Publishers Revenue Index.

Display remains the most significant source of ad earnings, despite experiencing a “slow but steady decline” over the past 12 months, with viewability dipping 5% across Europe in Q4.

However, overall growth was attributed to a strong year for online video – increasing revenue by 27% - while earnings from mobile advertising took a healthy 11%.

Mobile overcomes hurdles

The report highlights a strong year for the maturing mobile channel, which now accounts for 10.2% of total revenue within the UK’s publishing sector, up from 9.6% in 2014.

This has been attributed to a 43% increase in smartphone display advertising, while larger-screen smartphones are bullying themselves into the tablet market, resulting in an 11% revenue hit for ads on iPads and similar products.

Adding more significance to the positive findings for mobile, Deloitte media partner Howard Davies notes that device marketers have faced no shortage of hurdles within the last year.

“New third party distribution platforms, as well as the emergence of mobile ad-blockers, were just some of the challenges faced by online publishers in 2015,” said Davies.

“Yet, on average, mobile device revenues demonstrated double-digit growth each month throughout 2015. This is a clear indication that the UK¹s online publishers are adjusting their business models in order to develop mobile-optimised content.”

Diversifying revenue

But it’s not just display advertising which publishers owe good stead to at the start of 2016; the industry has also seen a 27% increase in earnings from “sponsorship” methods.

This suggests that paid content is becoming increasingly accepted despite early misgivings as publishers strive to diversify revenue streams.

“Sustained growth over a seven year period demonstrates how online publishers have continued to adapt to a rapidly changing online environment, ­this can be seen from the rise of video ad formats in 2015,” commented Richard Reeves, AOP managing director.

“In addition, the sharp increase in sponsorship revenue demonstrates publishers desire to introduce more dynamic and meaningful formats, in response to advertiser demands.”