Facing Tough Ad Market, Trade Publisher Moves Deeper Into Events

In another sign that trade publishers must diversify beyond the printed page, VNU Business Media, publisher of such magazines as Adweek, Billboard and The Hollywood Reporter Monday said it acquired Digital Media Wire's interest in Billboard Digital Entertainment Conference & Awards.

The deal illustrates how U.S. trade publishers are becoming more reliant on non-traditional revenues. VNU Business Media, which is one of the smaller divisions of VNU, the Dutch-based company that owns Nielsen Media Research, Nielsen Marketing Research, and which just announced the acquisition of IMS Health, had already derived 83 percent of its operating income and 32 percent of its revenues from trades shows, the company said in a first quarter advisory to investors. "In publishing, the advertising marketplace remains weak overall," read the company's statement.

That sentiment is consistent across the business-to-business media marketplace. On Monday, MDN reported on May 2005 results of American Business Media's advertising tracking service, the Business Information Network, which shows ad pages sliding an additional 0.2 percent from May 2004.



While the number in and of itself is not cause for concern, through the first five months of this year, B-to-B ad pages have dropped 2 percent from the same period in 2004.

"There's a lot of activity in that space, and that's all to the good," said American Business Media's President Gordon Hughes. "The trade show industry is a $9 billion per year business, and that's already equal to what ad pages are. B2B media tend to reconfigure and reinvent themselves, as we are seeing here."

Late Monday, the ABM issues an advisory in its member newsletter that it was working on a "comprehensive study" on the use of digital/electronic media. The study, which is currently in the field, will be released by the end of August and no doubt will shed more light on the business press' shift from print.

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