Outsell: Digital B2B Revs Exceed Print By 2009

In the business-to-business media category, 2009 will be a watershed year as online and related digital revenues surpass print revenues for the first time, according to a forecast by Outsell, Inc., a consultancy serving the information industry. The report, authored by Outsell analyst Chuck Richards, may be a harbinger of similar changes to come in the general consumer media as well.

The coming sea change is due, in part, to the robust growth in digital revenues, with Outsell forecasting 17.9% growth in digital ad revenues in 2007, contributing to 22.5% overall electronic revenue growth (this includes subscription products). Outsell sees this growth tapering off slightly in coming years, with 17% growth in 2008, 13% in 2009, and 10% in 2010.

However, the growth in online revenues comes at the same time as repeated declines in print revenues, with Outsell forecasting slumps of 5% in 2007 and 2% in 2008. Since 2005, Outsell has print revenue's share of total revenue falling from 48.9%, or $9.26 billion, to just 32.6%, or $8.14 billion. As noted, Outsell expects the crossover to come in 2009, when digital revenue will account for 38.6% of total revenues, or about $9.15 billion.

Thus, digital revenue growth will be largely responsible for the forecast 5.8% compound annual growth rate in B2B revenues from 2007-2010. In fact, Outsell sees an increase in the annual growth rate over those four years, from 5.1% in 2007 to 5.6% in 2010, thanks to growing demand for business information. (That's driven by external economic factors, including unstable oil prices and Asia 's economic expansion.)

Outsell also forecasts steady 6% annual growth in B2B event revenue, though not at online levels. In 2010, event revenue will account for about the same proportion of the total as it does now: 27.2%, or $6.8 billion.

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