For b-to-b media companies, much of the past three years has consisted of filling figurative sandbags, as publishers have scrambled to stem the flood of departing print revenues.
A study released in June by research firm Outsell indicates that what publishers have done—creating new digital offerings, expanding events, moving into marketing services and maintaining their print brands—may be beginning to pay off with genuine growth.
The study, “Annual Advertising and Marketing Study 2011: B2B Advertising,” was based on an online survey of 1,267 marketers in January and projected that overall spending on marketing is growing. The report anticipated a combined 4.5% increase in U.S. spending this year over last, to $384.4 billion for consumer and b-to-b marketing across a number of categories, including broadcast, digital, events, print and public relations.
B-to-b marketing will increase 3.5%, to $133.4 billion, according to the report. “There's no great leap, but it's up from last year,” said Chuck Richard, Outsell VP-lead analyst and author of the report.
In the study, Richard said several opportunities for b-to-b media companies exist. The report projected that b-to-b marketers will spend $26.8 billion on their own websites this year, up 4.8% over last year. But b-to-b marketers need help getting these websites to generate traffic and leads.
Richard said there's an opportunity there for media companies to provide marketing services, particularly in developing the qualified leads that b-to-b marketers prefer. “There's the potential for publishers to become more important to advertisers because they can help solve some of their biggest problems,” Richard said.
Other measures appear to be moving in favor of b-to-b media companies as arenas where they have staked out strong presences are poised for growth this year. Industry-specific websites are anticipated to grow 22.1%, to $3.7 billion; and webinars are projected to increase 18.2%, to $2.9 billion. Even b-to-b print magazines are projected to grow this year as their revenues climbs 1.2%, to $4.5 billion.
Richard said that b-to-b media companies have an advantage they are not exploiting to the fullest: their capability to produce integrated marketing programs for marketers. In the study, Richard wrote: “Across all size firms and across all industry sectors, the percentage of b-to-b advertisers who rate cross-media campaigns higher than single-media campaigns ranged from 1.6 times higher to 1.3 times higher, an overwhelming 30% to 60% increase. Furthermore, in all cases, campaigns including in-person events rated 11% to 38% higher than campaigns using only digital plus print.”
Richard added that in-person events are particularly effective in boosting the effectiveness of campaigns: “Adding in-person events raises the effectiveness so significantly across multiple major industry sectors that the burden is on the publisher or agency to justify why in-person events are not part of any given campaign.”