Dropoffs mark start of year

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This promises to be another tough year in b-to-b print advertising, with publishers fighting tooth and claw for every insertion order they write. With Nielsen Business Media, Primedia Inc. and Thomson Corp. having already disgorged most or all of their b-to-b print portfolios, the industry sustained another blow to the solar plexus last month when Reed Elsevier announced it was divesting Reed Business Information and its dozens of titles in yet another effort by a media player seeking to "reduce exposure to advertising markets and cyclicality," as the Anglo-Dutch media company said in a statement..

Given that January is the first month of the year and a traditionally light print advertising period, it is risky drawing many far-reaching conclusions from the data. However, it's notable that 35 of 52 advertising sectors—slightly more than two-thirds—began the year on a down note, losing ad pages compared to the same period in 2007. While publishers in the 17 categories that bucked the trend must be feeling good about getting an early head start, the others certainly must be hoping that this isn't a harbinger of things to come.

Meanwhile, many advertising industry forecasts are predicting minimal or nonexistent revenue growth in the b-to-b print segment, which still accounts for a far higher percentage of the profit margin at most media companies than does digital media.

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