BtoB

How high will our online revenue go?

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The overwhelming feeling I had at this year's ABM Spring Meeting was that online has become the mantra for most business media companies. We have all talked about it for years, but the balance of online versus print finally seems to have reached a tipping point in our business. In other words, the constant questions about is it real are gone, and the shift of dollars has made everyone wake up to the channel.

The question now is: What percentage of revenue will online become for b-to-b media companies?

Tech publishers are beginning to approach, or even top, 50%. IDG's Bob Carrigan has stated that online now generates more than 50% of his company's revenue. Ziff Davis Media and CMP Technology are headed that way quickly. Will nontech companies also move quickly in that direction?

It's inevitable. As Phil Juliano, VP-global brand management and corporate communications at Novell, noted in a panel discussion I moderated at the ABM meeting: "Online is now 50% of my spending."

Another panelist, Greg Salah, VP-marketing at USG Corp., said, "Online is 30% of my spending." Yet both reinforced how important print is for them, and both said they are focusing on brand marketing.

What's striking is that their spending seems much different than the revenue of most ABM members, which generate, on average, about 12% of their revenue from online. I think that will change quickly, and we will all be at 30% soon—or those dollars will be in someone else's pocket.

Bob Felsenthal can be reached at bfelsenthal@crain.com.

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