Things are looking up for the b-to-b media industry, and that's good news for the marketers that depend on publishers to help get their messages out.
Media investment bank Veronis Suhler Stevenson last week released its annual “VSS Communications Industry Forecast,” in which it projected that total b-to-b media spending will rise 4.6% this year to $26.5 billion. By 2015 spending should hit nearly $33.3 billion, according to VSS' forecast, for a five-year compound annual growth rate of 5.6%. That compares with a mere 0.1% CAGR over the past five years as the media industry struggled to adapt to new platforms, shrinking print advertising revenue and economic upheaval.
What's driving the renewed growth—no surprise—is the continued expansion of e-media, including the widespread adoption of tablet computers. E-media and mobile enjoyed an extremely robust CAGR of 15.6% between 2005 and 2010, and from all indications there's no turning back this wave, especially as publishers find ways to effectively expand their brands to tablets.
But this doesn't mean print is dead—not by a long shot. VSS reported that spending on b-to-b print magazines rose 1.7% last year to $8.25 billion. Of the 15 major advertising categories VSS tracks, eight saw growth in 2010. Last year's gain, of course, had minimal impact on the five-year CAGR; hammered by spending declines three years in a row, the b-to-b magazine sector experienced a 5.4% compound annual decline between 2005 and 2010.
Print still plays a vital role in b-to-b marketing. Case in point: Note how many of the top b-to-b marketers profiled in this month's issue say it has been a key component of their integrated campaigns this year.
Investors, too, are showing faith in the sector. According to MediaFinder.com, an online database of U.S. and Canadian publications, 34 b-to-b magazines were launched in the first half of this year, double the number that debuted in the first half of 2010. Among the new titles: Converting Quarterly and Progressive Cattleman. Meanwhile, 13 b-to-b magazines folded in this year's first half, down from 35 in the year-earlier period.
An especially heartening bit of b-to-b media industry news in recent months concerned the case of American Printer, a 128-year-old magazine that Penton Media shuttered this past summer. It was hard to blame Penton. After all, here was a struggling title covering an industry that was itself bearing the brunt of the decline of the magazine business; between 2008 and 2010, American Printer's ad pages plummeted from 610 to 293.
But, stop the presses, this wasn't to be the end of the story, as Output-Links Communications Group stepped forward and bought American Printer. In a statement, the magazine's new owners said: “When we heard it was going to shut down, our team felt this print industry icon deserved to live.”
So reports of the death of a magazine whose first edition predated that of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” while not exaggerated, did indeed prove premature.
John Obrecht is editor of BtoB and Media Business. He can be reached at email@example.com.