Survey: Publishers Reflect On The Ups, Downs Of A Bumpy, Change-Laden 2021

The Alliance for Audited Media polled its publishing clients to learn more about their experiences in a turbulent 2021. It found the year was a decidedly mixed bag.

On the plus side were the benefits of flexible work arrangements and increases in digital subscriptions. On the negative side was a loss of advertisers and print subscribers.

AAM is the nonprofit, third-party agency that verifies audience claims for media brands across magazines, newspapers, web, mobile and more, therefore ensuring trust and transparency among those brands and their advertisers.

In the survey, it sought to learn more about what was on clients’ minds and what their outlook was for 2022. Nearly 45 clients participated. 



Remote work was a big win. Some 75% of respondents said that an increase in remote work was one of 2021’s positives, while 64% said they experienced more flexibility in their workday. With regard to revenue, 66% of respondents said their publication experienced an increase in digital subscriptions. Some publications got creative in other areas. “We created a new line of virtual events that will serve us well in many markets in the future, one respondent reported.

Still, 68% of the respondents said they experienced a loss of advertising clients, while 61% said there was a decrease in print subscriptions. And 39% said their work responsibilities increased. “We’ve had a lot of difficulty training and on-boarding new hires,” one respondent said.

2021 affected respondents in other ways, too. Employers struggling to fill open positions. How has this trend impacted AAM publishers? As many as 40 million people have left their jobs this year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, creating what has become known as “The Great Resignation.”

Among AAM publisher clients, the results were mixed: 37% said their companies had experienced an increase in resignations and retirements, while 23% said they had not. Also, 32% said they weren’t sure.

Many still felt The Great Resignation’s impact indirectly. “My company hasn’t experienced it directly, but our fulfillment vendors have, and that’s impacting our business,” one respondent said.

Goals for 2022 ran the gamut. Embracing change, increasing revenue, keeping up with trends, and more. Read the full report here.

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