B-to-b ad spending is slow to recover

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Ad spending is bouncing back in 2004, according to several recent studies, with b-to-b spending slowly picking up.


In the first quarter, overall ad spending reached $31.5 billion, up 9.6% over ad spending in the first quarter of 2003, according to a June report by TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

Almost all media, with the exception of national spot radio, grew during the first quarter. Growth was led by Internet advertising, which increased by 28.1% to $1.8 billion, according to TNS/CMR.

"The Internet has emerged as a mainstream medium," said George Shababb, senior VP-strategic planning and business development at TNS. "There are more and more blue-chip advertisers that are including online advertising as part of the overall marketing mix."

National syndication, cable TV, national newspapers and network TV all showed double-digit year-over-year gains. However, b-to-b growth lagged overall ad growth. According to the latest Business Information Network report, released last month by American Business Media and IMS/The Auditor, b-to-b ad spending grew by only 2.7% in April, compared with the same period in 2003.

Year-to-date ad spending was up only 0.6% for b-to-b publications, and ad pages were down 2% for the first four months of the year, according to the BIN report.

"The b-to-b segment did not fare as well as other segments, such as consumer magazines, in the first quarter," Shababb said. "Our feeling is that b-to-b print is being impacted by online advertising in particular."

Bob Liodice, president-CEO of the Association of National Advertisers, agreed that print publications in general need to do a better job of selling themselves against emerging media, including the Internet. According to an ANA study of 156 marketers, 67% of those surveyed said newspapers and magazines could do a better job selling themselves against other media.

The ANA survey also asked marketers to identify the greatest threats to newspapers and magazines (see chart, this page).

Print may be looking lackluster

"With the dynamics of what is taking place with Internet advertising, branded entertainment and an increase in sponsorship opportunities, print may be looking a little lackluster," Liodice said.

According to the ANA survey, about 49% of marketers said they planned to increase their overall ad spending over the next year. About 44% said spending would stay the same, and 8% said it would decrease.

Within the print mix, 44% said they would increase spending on magazines, 41% said magazine spending would remain the same and 15% said magazine spending would decrease over the next year. Regarding spending on newspapers, 25% said it would increase, 60% said it would stay the same, and 15% said it would decrease.

"There seems to be an affinity for doing more in the magazine area," Liodice said. The survey did not break out b-to-b spending.

According to another report released last month by Universal McCann, total advertising for 2004 is expected to reach $263 billion, up 7% over total ad spending of $245.5 billion in 2003.

The report, presented by Robert Coen, director of forecasting at Universal McCann, projects ad spending will reach $280 billion in 2005, up 6.5% over 2004 projected spending.

TNS/CMR’s forecast for the year is even more optimistic. The research company predicts ad spending will be up 9.3% over 2003.

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