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Greater expectations

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Surveys of marketers, publishers and agencies indicate a broad belief that the economy is in recovery, with digital leading the way. Earlier this month, AdMedia Partners' 16th annual survey of senior executives at media and marketing services companies found that two-thirds of respondents believe a recovery is under way. The Web-based AdMedia survey of more than 7,400 domestic and international executives recorded another positive finding: The median growth rate respondents expect for their own businesses has doubled since last year, to 10%. Specifically, respondents said they anticipate an increase of 3% in overall advertising spending—a marked improvement from the 5% decline predicted in the 2009 survey. Not surprising, the survey found the most optimism about digital spending. AdMedia's respondents expect a median increase of 10% in interactive marketing this year. But there is wide variance in expectations for when digital marketing will exceed 50% of total revenue. Although most respondents said this is an inevitable future for traditional print media companies, AdMedia noted that “depending on the media category, there is great inconsistency in expectations.” For b-to-b publications, for example, 65% said the crossover will happen within five years, 27% said within five to 10 years, 6% said more than 10 years, and 3% said never. Maybe this distribution can be explained by the fact that respondents are unsure if online content companies have developed “a sustainable business model.” More than half (54%) said online content companies had not developed such a model. In fact, the percentage of respondents believing content companies had succeeded in cracking the code dropped, from 30% in 2009 to 20% this year. At the Interactive Advertising Bureau's annual leadership conference two weeks ago in Carlsbad, Calif., these titanic shifts in the publishing industry were front and center, with some media executives clearly comprehending the stakes. “The traditional value chain that once governed media and marketing has been disrupted,” said Jack Griffin, president-national media at publisher Meredith Corp. He concluded: “If we relegate ourselves to just one place in that value chain, it's a sure path to extinction.” (Senior Reporter Kate Maddox's coverage of the IAB conference starts on page 3.) Whether media companies are ready or not, marketers are accelerating their move online. Dual reports, one from Forrester Research and the other from research company Outsell, quantify the migration online. Forrester's report, “B2B US Interactive Marketing Forecast, 2009-2014,” predicts that interactive spending by b-to-b marketers will reach $4.8 billion by 2014. Outsell's “Annual Advertising and Marketing Study, 2010,” which includes in its calculations spending on company Web sites, projects b-to-b interactive spending will grow 9.2% to $51.5 billion this year, representing fully 40% of overall b-to-b marketing spending (Media Editor Sean Callahan's coverage of both reports starts on page 1). Ellis Booker is editor of BtoB and BtoB's Media Business, and can be reached at ebooker@crain.com.
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