The top 100 b-to-b print advertisers boosted spending in trade publications last year to $618.5 million, an increase of 7.9% over 2009, according to data supplied by IMS: The Auditor.
Three technology companies and two pharmaceutical companies comprised the top five spenders in 2010. IBM Corp. led the way with $27.1 million in spending, followed by Forest Pharmaceuticals ($20.2 million), Pfizer Inc. ($16.5 million), Microsoft Corp. ($15.1 million) and CDW Corp. ($14.5 million).
All three tech companies reduced their spending on trade publication advertising last year. IBM's print outlay was down 34.4%, Microsoft's declined 26.5% and CDW's dropped 13.6%.
Forest Pharmaceutical's spending jumped 21.0%, while Pfizer upped its spending by 5.9%.
IBM's story shows the ambiguous relationship many b-to-b advertisers have with the trade press. On one hand, IBM ranked as the top spender in the trade press. On the other, it slashed spending on trade advertising by more than one-third last year.
Thanks to the Internet, IBM, like every other b-to-b marketer, has an increasing number of options for communicating its message. On top of that, IBM has the budget to use broadcast to reach a broad swath of senior executives.
“From a marketing mix standpoint, we are using the whole gamut,” said John Kennedy, IBM's VP-corporate marketing. “We advertise on television in an important way. Our advertising plan is built around major sponsorships with the Masters, the U.S. Open, the NFL playoffs and large anchor TV buys.”
For example, last year IBM launched a new set of TV commercials for its “Smarter Planet” campaign, developed by Ogilvy & Mather New York, during the U.S. Open tennis tournament, of which it is a major sponsor.
The company also used print, online, outdoor and social media for “Smarter Planet,” employing large interactive digital billboards called “Smarter Cities” to showcase how it helps key systems such as transportation, energy and healthcare.
Microsoft takes an approach to marketing spending similar to IBM's. Print is just a small cog in the wheel.
“TV factors in significantly,” said Mich Mathews, senior VP-central marketing group at Microsoft, pointing to the company's Windows 7 TV campaign, which was developed by Crispin Porter+ Bogusky, Boulder, Colo. The campaign debuted in 2009 and continued last year.
The campaign, “Windows 7 Was My Idea,” was aimed at large enterprises, small businesses and consumers. In addition to TV, it included print, online and out-of-home ads.
Microsoft also introduced a new campaign for cloud computing last year, called “We're All In,” created by JWT, New York. It included print and online ads.
“Overall, we are on the lunatic fringe of trying to do everything digital, particularly for business audiences,” Mathews said. “The wonderful thing about selling to IT professionals and developers is we know where they are—they're on the Web, and they're giving you feedback 24/7.”
Even though IMS can count IBM's or Microsoft's ad pages in trade publications, it's difficult to assess just how much these and other companies are spending on advertising in the trade press. IMS said it estimates an advertiser's spending by multiplying a magazine's one-time black-and-white rate by the total number of pages.
The system cannot account for integrated packages marketers buy from business media companies that link print ad pages, digital marketing and events in a single program for a lump sum.
Nonetheless, the top 100 print advertiser data offer insights into how b-to-b marketers are spending as the recession recedes. For example, two hard-hit industries, automotive and financial services, have begun to spend again on trade publication advertising.
The big three American automotive manufacturers all boosted print advertising spending in 2010. Ford Motor Co.'s spending was up 9.3% to $9.2 million. General Motors Corp. more than doubled its spending to $6.1 million, while Chrysler Group's spending surged from about $375,000 in 2009 to $5.6 million last year.
In the financial sector, Prudential Financial was the biggest spender, at $10.1 million, even though its spending declined a modest 3.5% compared with 2009. American Express Co., Bank of America Corp., Bank of New York Mellon Corp., Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank Securities, Fidelity Investments, T. Rowe Price Group and Wells Fargo & Co. all increased spending, while Barclays Bank reduced its print ad expenditures.