BtoB

ABM report bodes well for business publishers

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A new report from American Business Media finds that after surviving several lean years, the business publishing industry is positioned to thrive.

The "ABM Financial Trend Report," prepared by the Jordan, Edmiston Group, tracked the years 2000-2004 and studied 44 b-to-b media companies and 134 publications. Richard Mead, managing director of the media investment bank, presented the findings last month at the ABM's Top Management Meeting in Chicago.

Mead said that because of publishers' "heroic efforts to manage down costs" after the dot-com bubble popped in 2001 and revenues plunged, the industry is in strong shape to prosper in the current environment.

The report found that in 2000, the peak of the business cycle, the average business publication generated $7.31 million in revenue. By 2004, that figure had fallen to $4.75 million. Meanwhile, the cost to market, publish and distribute the average publication was slashed from $5.35 million to $3.66 million.

Mead said that even as the Internet grows in importance as a revenue generator, print publications still play the key role of "community product" for business media companies, providing "a very solid foundation for relations in the industry and spinning off future products."

Members of the audience also stressed the importance of print, with Peter Hoyt, president of Hoyt Publishing Co., declaring, "The demise of print is exaggerated."

Robin Ashton, president of Gill Ashton Publishing and publisher of Foodservice Equipment Reports, waxed metaphorical. "The print product is basically an aircraft carrier you fly everything off of," he said, adding, "There is no question that keeping the aircraft carrier fueled is a challenge nowadays."

In an interview after the session, Hoyt said of print, "It still has the mobility and the power to connect [more] than the Web does overall. It has to be well written. It has to be well targeted."

Hoyt also noted the bond that readers develop with print magazines. "It's a good day when a publication you rely on arrives," he said. "The Web has not made that redundant."

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