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Bullish b-to-b media companies invest in digital, events, research—even print

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Even against the background of the debt downgrade and slowing growth, b-to-b media executives say they are continuing to invest in their businesses. “Overall, I'd say we're pretty bullish—in spite of the economy,” said Ken Moyes, president of EH Publishing. Moyes' company showed its confidence in b-to-b media last year when it acquired Peerless Media, which functions as an EH Publishing subsidiary and includes former Reed Business Information properties such as Modern Materials Handling. “It's very, very solid,” Moyes said of Peerless Media's performance. “It has exceeded our expectations. Their revenues are up 15% or more from when we bought them.” Moyes is continuing to invest in EH Publishing as a whole. The company has added 10 new positions this year, for a total of about 100 employees, and expects to add 10 to 15 more by December, he said. In addition to investing in digital programs, EH Publishing is expanding one of its trade shows, Worship Facilities Conference & Expo. Moyes has plans to add regional versions of the show, which takes place in November in Dallas. EH Holding is not alone in investing in its business in the sluggish economy. Bruce Morris, exec VP-managing director of SourceMedia's professional services and technology group, said the stock market gyrations in the wake of Standard & Poor's downgrade of the U.S. debt, hasn't affected business. “We haven't seen any cancellations,” he said. “It's pretty much business as usual.” Morris added: “We continue to develop our nonadvertising revenue streams.” Specifically, Morris' division has boosted its research business. It conducts research for marketers looking to learn more about their marketplaces. “The beauty of this business is that we're not cannibalizing advertising dollars,” Morris said. In addition to investing in digital, Morris said his group is spending more on creating custom content for marketers. For example, SourceMedia produces a quarterly magazine for TD Ameritrade. CFE Media, another company comprised of former Reed Business Information publications, said its print revenue is up 15% this year on top of 20% growth in 2010. “Companies are coming back to marketing,” said Jim Langhenry, group publisher at CFE Media. Langhenry said CFE has invested in more expensive paper for its publications, such as Consulting Specifying Engineer, and in boosting its editorial to advertising ratio. CFE is also creating a new event related to Consulting Specifying Engineer, which will debut in the fall. “Sponsorships are going very well,” Langhenry said.
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