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Home » Publishing Trends Report 2023: “Declining traffic a major issue” | What’s New in Publishing

Publishing Trends Report 2023: “Declining traffic a major issue” | What’s New in Publishing

In the newly released 2023 Publishing Trends Report, an annual survey by Echobox, nearly half of publishers said declining traffic is the key challenge, with increasing traffic as the associated top commercial priority.

Echobox, the publisher automation specialist, has released its keenly awaited Publishing Trends Report 2023 which highlights a number of key challenges facing publishers from more than 20 countries around the globe.

Key findings from this year’s report:

  • Increasing traffic remains a top priority for publishers surveyed (63%).
  • Declining traffic (47%) is the major challenge.
  • 53% of publishers will prioritize finding new audiences this year.
  • Loss of revenue from print and/or events remains low on the list of challenges, indicating that many publishers are now digital-first businesses with a revenue model to match.

Other notable findings:

  • 63% of respondents said AI will have greater importance for their business in 2023.
  • 56% of publishers are either expanding their newsletter offering this year, or will start producing newsletters in 2023, despite this growth showing signs of slowing.
  • Creating video content (47%) will also be important this year, coinciding with a surge of publishers focusing on TikTok (59%).
  • Instagram remains the platform that most publishers (66%) believe will be more
    important to them this calendar year.

Low traffic a key challenge for 2023, Facebook traffic dives

In last year’s survey, declining website traffic was a major concern for only 25% of publishers, now it is almost 50%, which clearly demonstrates the speed at which industry-wide pressure on publishers has intensified.

Echobox cites declines in Facebook referral traffic as having a major impact, the scale of the falls confirmed by data shared by publisher analytics firm Chartbeat and digital intelligence platform Similarweb. Indeed, Chartbeat’s own data drawn from 1,350 global publishers shows that in January 2018, 27% or 2Bn page views came from Facebook. By April 2023, this figure had dropped to 11%.

Facebook clearly continues to be critical for publishers in driving referral traffic to their websites, but the ability of the platform they’ve often relied on to generate that traffic is seeming more precarious.

Publisher Trends Report 2023, Echobox

The analysis echoes a recent complaint from the UK news publisher Reach which has seen a 14.5% digital revenue drop for the first four months of 2023 compared with the same period in 2022. Reach, Britain’s biggest local and national news publisher, blames the page-view slowdown on “recent changes to the way Facebook presents news content”.

AI becomes consolidated within business models

One of the more notable findings of this year’s survey is that although diversifying revenue streams has grown in importance, operating with reduced staff has declined significantly as a stated challenge. This suggests that publishers are operating more efficiently, with AI boosts in productivity helping to alleviate thin staff numbers and low bandwidth.

The survey also found that for 48% of respondents, applications such as ChatGPT and DALL-E have changed the way publishers think about the potential use of AI in their business. The remaining 52% appear to be waiting on the sidelines to see how AI is harnessed by more adventurous and well-funded publishers.

There is clearly enthusiasm on the part of publishers to utilize generative AI, but taken as a whole, the relatively even split in response indicates a more complex picture… one respondent noted that “with ChatGPT released, the C-suite got a good look at what AI can do and is willing to budget for experiments now”.

Publisher Trends Report 2023, Echobox

Video is a top priority for publishers

Developing video content is another key focus for publishers this year, with just under half of those
surveyed (47%) saying video would be more important to them in 2023, underscoring broader
industry-wide efforts to attract Gen Z and younger age groups.

Short form videos in particular have risen dramatically in importance – whilst nearly two-thirds of publishers reported that Instagram had increased importance in 2023, TikTok videos have trebled in importance within the space of a year.

Just last year, TikTok languished in between Twitter and LinkedIn in importance, with only 20% of publishers thinking it would play a more considerable role in their strategy — fast forward one year, and that portion has nearly tripled.

Publisher Trends Report 2023, Echobox

Of note, when survey respondents were asked whether the ongoing upheavals at Twitter had any impact on how publishers view the platform, the overwhelming response was no. Indeed, 81% of respondents have not changed their approach to Twitter whatsoever. Of the minority who had, some had begun to use platforms such as Mastodon and Post to compensate.

For further insights, and to download the 22 page report in full, please use this link.

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