Trade Remains Staid, Shows Outpace Ad Pages In Business Pubs

Ad demand for B-to-B print media continues to wane, according to the most recent estimates from the industry's trade group, but publishers are attracting slightly higher revenues from other sources, especially trade shows and conferences. American Business Media (ABM) late Monday reported that May ad page volume in the business press declined 1.04 percent from May 2005. That's the latest down cycle in what has proven to be an erratic first five months of the year for the business press. Through May B-to-B ad pages are up 0.5 percent.

While the ABM compiles estimates for trade show activity more slowly, data through the first three months of the year indicates revenues from such events are outpacing traditional ad pages for B-to-B publishers. Trade show revenues among the publishers reporting to the ABM rose to $2.74 billion, a 1.4 percent increase over the $2.59 billion they took in from trade shows during the first quarter of 2005. The ABM estimated that combined print advertising and trade show revenues totaled $5.3 billion for the quarter, a 1 percent gain over the first quarter of 2005.



In recent months, the ABM has worked hard to boost the image of B-to-B publications as ad platforms with a new trade advertising campaign and research showing their high degree of credibility in the eyes of readers, a trust that the trade group said extends to advertisers.

For example, according to one study conducted for ABM by Harris Interactive, more than half of executives who read B-to-B magazines have acted on an ad they saw in one of these publications. Specifically, "fifty-seven percent [of respondents] said it had caused them to make a purchase or recommend a purchase" for their company, recalled Regina Corso, research director for Harris Interactive.

This year's revenue figures seem to confirm another finding of the Harris study, which placed B-to-B publications second only to live calls by sales executives - including company reps at trade shows and expos - in terms of sales success. According to Harris, 70 percent of the study respondents said interactions with company reps at industry functions caused them to make or recommend a purchase to their company.

Further support for the viability of B2B events was provided by a recent study by Outsell, Inc., showing trade shows and expos to be one of the few categories embraced by almost every major section of American business. According to Outsell, biotech and pharmaceuticals lead event spending, followed closely by "old economy" manufacturers -- but also "new economy" high-tech firms. This finding stands in sharp contrast to online advertising, for example, which has made few inroads among manufacturers, and print magazines, which are considered least effective of all marketing approaches by high-tech execs.

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