The top advertiser in b-to-b publications last year was IBM Corp., which spent an estimated $57.6 million on b-to-b print ads, down 11.1% from $64.8 million in 2006, according to IMS.
The No. 2 advertiser was Microsoft Corp., which spent an estimated $49.2 million on b-to-b print ads, down 20.3% from $61.7 million in 2006.
The third-largest advertiser was CDW Corp., which spent an estimated $34.0 million, down 5.3% from $35.9 million in 2006.
Rounding out the top 10 were HP, Time Warner, Dell Inc., American Power Conversion Corp., Sony Corp., GE and DaimlerChrysler.
In addition to the economic downturn, the increasing shift of marketing dollars to online is taking its toll on print advertising revenue.
IBM, for example, increased its online ad spending by 100% last year, according to Diane Brink, VP-worldwide integrated marketing communications at IBM.
But even with the large increase in digital spending, Brink said, IBM still relies heavily on traditional business media, including print.
"The fact is you need multiple forms of media to get the best bang for your buck," she said. "[Media consumption] habits are changing, but that doesn't mean we should abandon what we've done in the past, because not everyone is changing. If we go all one way, we risk losing [audience]."
IBM used a 360-degree approach to create integrated campaigns last year, working with its agency of record, Ogilvy North America, New York.
It used multiple platforms, including TV, print, online and events, to carry its "Innovations that work" messaging, as well as targeted campaigns in trade magazines for more specialized products and services.
For example, in May IBM broke a campaign called "Out With Cables. In With Blades," to promote its BladeCenter technology for high-density computer servers. The campaign was aimed at IT decision-makers and ran in publications including Computerworld, eWeek and InformationWeek.
Microsoft has stated that it plans to shift at least half of its marketing budget to online media over the next two years.
Last year, a big focus for Microsoft was continuing its "People Ready Business" campaign, a $500 million effort that included TV, print and online, aiming to show how the company brings value to businesses at the macro level. McCann Worldgroup, San Francisco, developed the campaign.
In addition, Microsoft ran more targeted campaigns for specific products and services, such as an effort called "The Server Unleashed," also developed by McCann, to promote features of Windows Server 2008 software.
"We still have a big percent of the audience reading IT magazines, so we invest a lot in print ads," said Bob Visse, senior director of Microsoft's Windows Server division. "One thing that's different since 2003 [when Windows Server was first launched] is that we didn't buy any TV at all."
A significant portion of the Windows Server 2008 campaign was online, although Visse declined to say how much.
While many of the top advertisers decreased their print budgets last year, some increased print advertising. Time Warner, which ranked No. 5 on the list, spent $21.0 million on b-to-b print ads, up 21.4% over $17.3 million in 2006. No. 6 advertiser Dell spent $20.1 million on b-to-b ads, up 16.2% over $17.3 million in 2006.
American Power Conversion Corp., a power and cooling services company that was acquired by Schneider Electric in February 2007, had one of the biggest increases. It spent $19.3 million on b-to-b print ads, up 116.9% over $8.9 million in 2006.