B2B Content Consumption Booms, With eBooks In First Place

White papers, those relics from another age, are back. Last year, the number of  uploads by marketers grew by 20.3%, outpacing the growth of all other B2B content formats, according to the State of Content Consumption & Demand Report, a study by NetLine.

Of course, eBooks dominated registrations, accounting for 43.3% of the total, versus 7.4% for white papers. 

Overrall, the results show that  B2B buyers sought serious information as we moved into the second year of the pandemic. 

Based on its own volume, encompassing some 4.6 million registrations, Netline reports that B2B content consumption increased by more than 9% last year. In addition, there was a 19% acceleration in additional content registrations and a 3.6-hour increase in overall time to consume content.

Mobile traffic fell to 7.9%, down from 23.43% in 2020—no big surprise given the changes in working arrangements. 

Speaking of which, the study found a big hike in content consumption in the Lifestyle and Career area. People were highly interested in how to protect their mental health and how to cope with a new way of working. 

Meanwhile, desktop consumption increased to 91.53%, versus 64.61% in 2020. Tablet use barely tracked in either year. 

Who’s doing the reading? Here are the 10 most active job areas:

  • Information technology — 27.99%
  • Executives — 14.78% 
  • Education — 6.58%
  • Engineering — 6.51%
  • Human Resources — 6.19%
  • Finance/Accounting — 5.35%
  • Business — 4.54%
  • Marketing — 4.17%
  • Sales — 3.84%
  • Manufacturing/Production/Operations — 2.42%

These figures reflect a 19.4% increase in executive consumption, and a 4.1% decline in the marketing areas. And they appear to be in sync with the list of the top most active job functions, with the groups they are part of:

  • IT: It Systems Management — 12.6%
  • Exec: CEO — 10.7%
  • Edu: Teacher/Professor — 7.1%
  • IT: Network/Server Admin — 6.6%
  • Sales: Sales — 6.5%
  • IT: Software System Architecture — 6.4%
  • IT: IT Project Management — 5.6% 
  • Exec: Senior Management — 5.6% 
  • Exec: President — 4.9% 
  • HR: Senior Management — 4.6%

Despite landing in the No. 1 slot, It: Systems Management consumption declined by 26%. 

The study also found that 31% of B2B professionals expect to invest in buyer-level intent data in the next 12 months, and 15% in the next six months.  

What is intent data telling B2B marketers? It varies by format. These are the content formats associated with immediate buying decisions:

  • White Paper
  • Survey Report 
  • Tool
  • Research Report
  • Analyst Report
  • On-Demand Webinar
  • Live Webcast

Here are the content formats less likely associated with immediate buying decisions: 

  • Tips & Tricks Guide
  • eKit 
  • Course
  • Newsletters 
  • eBook
  • Book Summary 
  • Cheat Sheet

Webinars are a big sign of intent: Buyers who register for one are 29% more likely to purchase within six months. 

The study also found that15.2% of B2B professionals expect to invest  (in something) within the next six months.



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