Data from the ABM Financial Trend Report, 2005-2007, produced by Jordan, Edmiston Group Inc. and presented last month at ABM's Top Management Meeting, reflect a world as it was before September, said William Pollak, CEO of Incisive Media-North America, during a session on the report's findings
“The world changed for us, and I think a lot of the other larger media companies, after Lehman Brothers,” Pollak said, referring to the mid-September collapse of the investment bank. “We're seeing advertisers pull back from contracts they've signed for fourth-quarter advertising, canceling or moving [advertising] into the first quarter of 2009, in numbers most of us have never seen before.”
Pollak added that some trade show organizers have told him exhibitors are walking away from deposits when it's time to pay the balance—an unprecedented and worrisome signal.
The session's other media company executive, Greg Watt, president-CEO of WATT, made a similar observation. “There's a lot of fear in the marketplace,” he said. “We saw a tremendous falloff starting in mid-September.” Noting there are many differences in the markets served by b-to-b media companies, Watt added, “Our experiences are very much like Bill's in [the latter months of] 2008.”
Ellis Booker, editor of BtoB and Media Business, who moderated the session, asked Pollak and Watt if they thought the b-to-b media business would return to its 2007 dynamics when the economy recovered or if the industry was at a “tipping point.”
“We've all gone through cycles before, but the market never comes back exactly to the way it was,” Watt said. “But we see the shift to digital as a bright spot.” M