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    Digiday+ Research: Publishers see a big drop-off in optimism for 2023

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    Cost-cutting is in full swing, fewer publishers are adding staff — the media industry doesn’t exactly have an optimistic vibe at the moment.

    This tracks with a recent Digiday+ Research survey of 71 publisher professionals, which found that optimism has really taken a hit in the media industry over the last year (which is a big difference from the agency world).

    This isn’t immediately apparent when we look at how publishers feel about their success in 2022: 61% of respondents to Digiday’s survey said they agree that their companies had a successful year in 2022.

    However, the drop-off in optimism becomes clear when we look at this result compared with last year’s and when we look at the bigger picture of the media industry as a whole.

    Last year, 78% of publisher pros told Digiday they agreed that their companies had a successful 2021 – that’s a significant difference from this year’s 61%. And while that percentage decreased, the percentage of publishers who disagree that their companies had a successful year increased: Last year, 11% of respondents to Digiday’s survey said they disagreed that their companies had a successful 2021. In 2022, that percentage was up to nearly a quarter (24%).

    Meanwhile, the percentage of publishers who agree that the media industry had a successful year plummeted from last year to this year: 61% of publisher pros told Digiday last year they agreed the industry had a successful 2021. In 2022, that percentage fell to only 27%. And on the flip side, 17% disagreed that the industry had a successful year in 2021, with that percentage jumping to more than half (51%) in 2022.

    The drop-off in optimism is even more apparent when looking at how publishers feel about their prospects for 2023: The percentages of those who agree they’re optimistic about their companies’ prospects for the new year and about the media industry’s prospects for 2023 fell by about 30 percentage points each. Last year, 84% of respondents to Digiday’s survey said they agreed that they were optimistic about their companies’ prospects for 2022, which fell to 58% this year. And 68% said they were optimistic about the industry’s prospects for 2022, compared to only 35% this year.

    Drilling down further into the data, we can get a better understanding of the attitude shifts publishers have gone through in the last year. For instance, the percentage of publishers who strongly agree that their companies had a good year fell from 49% in 2021 to 24% in 2022, and those who disagree somewhat rose from 8% in 2021 to 18% in 2022.

    Meanwhile, the biggest shifts for the media industry overall occurred in the “somewhat” category: 46% of respondents to Digiday’s survey somewhat agreed that the industry had a successful year in 2021, compared with just 23% in 2022. And the percentage of those who somewhat disagreed that the industry was successful jumped from 14% in 2021 to 44% in 2022.

    This year, the percentage of publishers who strongly agree they’re optimistic about their companies’ prospects is only 14%, compared with 42% last year. And the shifts are more significant looking at the media industry as a whole.

    Only 4% of respondents to Digiday’s survey said they strongly agree they’re optimistic about the industry’s prospects this year, compared with 21% last year. And while 31% said they agree somewhat that they’re optimistic about the media industry this year, it’s a significant drop from the 47% who said so last year.

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