With moderate to steady growth predicted for the U.S. economy this year, spending in many b-to-b publishing categories is likely to follow suit.
Most of the growth will be driven by marketers boosting online expenditures. Spending on trade shows is expected to grow as well.
Print ad revenue for many business publishers is expected to be up slightly or flat, which in some b-to-b media quarters is now considered the new "up."
While it may be somewhat the worse for wear, print is hardly dead, as some b-to-b publishers have recently introduced new print products to cater to burgeoning trends in their markets.
For example, Hanley Wood in October launched Architect (88,000 circ.) to take advantage of the tremendous growth in commercial construction throughout the country. The new publication includes content from Architecture, which Hanley Wood purchased along with Architecture Lighting from VNU Business Media last year.
The decline in residential housing will be more than offset by spending on commercial buildings as well as new government investment in roads and highways, said Peter Goldstone, president of Hanley Wood Business Media.
Summit Publishing isn't wary about print, either. In November, the company debuted Healthcare Packaging (20,000 circ.) to capitalize on solid growth in that market.
Although some companies are rolling out new print products, online will continue to be the key focus for most.
Goldstone expects print revenue for Hanley Wood to be flat this year while online revenue is expected to soar 35%. Joe Angel, VP-publisher of Packaging World, said he expects print revenue to be up 5% to 7% and online revenue to increase about 20%.
It's a similar scenario in several other vertical markets. Take technology, which heading into 2007 was starting to remind observers of the frothiness in the IT market during the late 1990s.
IDG Communications, one of the top publishers of technology titles, expects its online revenue to grow 40% this year and print revenue to rise 10%, matching its 2006 gain, said Colin Crawford, senior VP-online at IDG.
"Print is still very much the core, but the market continues to shift," Crawford said. "And we don't want to be too optimistic about print spending."
In response to this shift, business publishers are working to create better alignment between the two media. Angel perhaps expressed the sentiments of most business publishers when he said: "We need to do a much better job of integrating online options with lead generation with our print products."
NOTE: Ad page data supplied by Inquiry Management Systems (IMS), unless otherwise noted. Year-to-date figures are through November.