B-to-B Trades Down, Industry Group Lowers '03 Ad Outlook

Despite a modest gain in business-to-business ad dollar volume in October, ad pages in the business press continued to slide. As a result, the industry's trade group, American Business Media, shaved another percentage point off its projections for potential B-to-B ad spending in 2003.

Business marketers boosted their ad outlays 3.3 percent in October, but that was not the kind of year-end rally that would have been needed to meet the "1 percent to 2 percent" B-to-B ad spending forecast issued last month by the ABM. The November forecast was down from a projection of "1 percent to 3 percent" in October.

"This was anticipated," stated ABM president Gordon Hughes. "We believe that the fourth quarter will end up at around 3%, which will bring the full year up 1% from 2002."

Through the first 10 months of 2003, B-to-B ad spending is up only 0.4 percent, according to the Business Information Network data. Ad pages, which many on Madison Avenue consider a more dependable measure of advertising vitality, were down 2.8 percent in October and 3.6 percent through the first 10 months of 2003.

The downward year-end momentum for B-to-B ad demand represents another mixed signal for the overall ad economy. Because B-to-B is deemed an important lagging indicator of an overall advertising recovery, the erratic performance of business media ad spending may indicate further instability in the overall advertising marketplace.

Business-to-Business Ad Pages, Dollar Trends

Ad Page Ad Dollars
January -5.4% +2.9%
February -5.6% +2.4%
March -5.0% +5.8%
April -8.4% -9.7%
May -5.9% -1.1%
June +0.9% +4.9%
July -9.7% -7.9%
August -6.3% -3.5%
September -2.2% -0.5%
October -2.8% +3.3%

10 Months -3.6% +0.4%

Source: Source: Business Information Network, American Business Media, TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.
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