September 13, 2013 Last Updated 7:48 am

U.S. B2B publishers continue to see declines in print ad pages

Latest BIM report shows April ad pages fell over 9 percent in April

The ABM releases ad page reports about as quickly as the Greek government, but because the news they are reporting is generally not good, I guess there is no rush to release these reports.
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B2B ad pages fell 9.15 percent in the month of April, according to the latest BIN numbers. For the year ad pages are down about the same amount, 9.11 percent.

While the ABM reports revenue numbers, and these are often repeated, I find these less accurate based on my own experience, and my own biases.

Ad pages have been falling since the beginning of the financial crisis, but have moderated somewhat recently. In 2011, for instance, ad pages were essentially flat, recording a modest uptick of 0.36 percent. But recently declines have started to accelerate once again, bad news for publishers hoping to see a real recovery from the recession.

Categories that were hit the hardest included automotive -25.15 percent, aviation -13.22 percent, financial -10.79 percent, business and advertising -11.4 percent, tech -17.64 percent, electronic engineering -20.69 percent, and both the government and health care categories down just over 14 percent.

Only resources, environment and utilities (one category) recorded growth over one percent, +3.15 percent.

The consumer ad page numbers are not exactly rosy, either. But whereas the B2B sector continues to monitor only print advertising – assuming, on has to believe, that tablet advertising remains microscopic for B2B – the MPA has been monitoring iPad ad sales and reporting some gains.

Several years ago, after the launch of the original iPad, one of my rare predictions was that B2B publishers would begin to find that industries would not be able to support as many titles in each category as they have in the past; that the leaders in each category might be able to maintain their ad pages, or even grow them, but that titles that are third or fourth or worse in their categories would find agencies pulling schedules to put the money into new digital solutions.

There is almost no way, other anecdotally, to confirm that this is happening. The best evidence I have seen is some internal ad pages reports that show the leading magazines in some categories having decent years, while weak competitors become weaker. Where this money is going is hard to track, but many B2B have launched their own apps and tablet editions, just as they did at the start of the Internet publishing era.

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