Events, Online Lead B-to-B Growth, Print Remains Flat

Ad revenue for business-to-business publications grew 1 percent in the fiscal year ending in June compared to June 2005, the Business Information Network said Thursday. During this period, print ads were flat behind other media as sources of revenue growth--while online advertising posted 20 percent growth and events saw 6 percent growth, compared to last year.

The leading categories for B-to-B revenue growth were "building, engineering and construction," which jumped about 8 percent, followed by "automotive" and "resources, environment, and utility," which both grew about 7.9 percent.

Mirroring the broader market, the big winner in terms of delivery was the Internet--a development that seems to confirm two recent findings: a study by Forrester Research performed for American Business Media, called "The B2B Digital Marketing Shift," and a study by Harris Interactive. According to the latter study of 588 executives in 21 different business areas, 49 percent said that a B-to-B Web site led them to recommend a product to their organization, and 35 percent said they had made business purchases through the Internet.



The Internet appears to work best in conjunction with trade shows, noted the Harris study. Seventy-seven percent of Harris respondents said trade shows drove them to find more information about products or services on the Internet. Plus, direct personal contact appears to be the most effective means of reaching executives. 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 B-to-B 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. Per Outsell, biotech and pharmaceuticals led event spending, followed closely by "old economy" manufacturers as well as "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 the least effective of all marketing approaches by high-tech executives.

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