The “ABM Financial Trend Report” was prepared and sponsored by Jordan, Edmiston Group. It provides an overview of the financial performance of 38 b-to-b media companies (representing 122 trade titles) from 2004 to 2006.
“We’re seeing a modest increase in revenue as it relates to print across the board,” said Richard Mead, managing director of Jordan, Edmiston, who helped put the study together. “But it’s still not sufficient to stop evaporation of the contribution line.”
One of the report’s most troubling findings relates to the cost side of the equation. “In every publishing department, costs are increasing faster than revenues are increasing,” said Tony Silber, editor and publisher of Folio:, who moderated a panel discussion of the report. The panelist were Peter Goldstone, president of Hanley Wood Business Media, and Peter Hoyt, president of Hoyt Publishing.
“The cost report doesn’t show all the back office and IT cost,” Goldstone said. There are hiring, technology and training costs, the impact of which will be felt for years, he added, saying, “It’ll be three to five years before this drops to the bottom line at Hanley Wood.”
According to the report, average ad expenses from 2004 through 2006 grew from $856,000 to $887,000; average circulation expenses grew from $324,000 to $345,000. Total operating expenses grew to an average of $3.60 million from $3.30 million.
Companies participating in the report included Advanstar Communications, McGraw-Hill Cos., Nielsen Business Media, Penton Media, Reed Business Information and Summit Business Media.
According to the report, print advertising revenue grew to $3.66 million in 2006, from $3.56 million in 2004. From 2005 through 2006, print ad revenue was essentially flat, growing 0.4%. Overall revenue between 2004 and 2006—from print, events and digital products—grew from $4.30 million to $4.50 million.
According to the report, print advertising revenue grew to $3.66 million in 2006 from $3.56 million in 2004. Overall revenue between 2004 and 2006—from print, events and digital products—grew to $4.50 million, from $4.30 million.
Ad pages per issue dropped at a compound average of 6.7% from 2004 through 2006; there was a 1.4% compound average drop in edit pages per issue.
The combined drops in average ad pages and average edit pages caused the average folio size to fall at a compound average of 4% from 2004 through 2006. The average folio size fell 3% in 2006 compared with 2005.
Total circulation revenue declined at a compound average 2.6% from 2004 through 2006 but rose 3.3% in 2006 compared with 2005.
Inside the broad trends, however, the impact may vary from publisher to publisher.
“In our flagship books, we’re up a percent [in print] and holding our margins there,” Hoyt said. “I think it depends on the market.”
“Print isn’t going away. It’s still reasonably solid,” Mead said. “It’s still on the hearts and minds of advertisers; [it] helps media companies brand their own products and provides leverage to sell other products.”
Expenses for the average b-to-b publication are increasing across the board due to the growing number of integrated marketing packages that b-to-b publishers are starting to offer, Mead said.