Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Phew, glad that's over; B2B ad pages decline 28.6% in 2009; construction, tech and transportation hurt the most

I've written a couple of times (recently here and here) about the modest recovery some B2B publications seem to be enjoying, as well as the less than robust recovery others are experiencing. But for just about everyone, 2009 was a downer.

American Business Media (ABM) released (PDF link) their December report on ad pages for 2009 and it confirms what everyone knew: 2009 sucked. Ad pages declined 28.56 percent, and the year did not really improve much as December ad pages were still down 27.94 percent.

While certain categories were hit harder than others, only the agriculture category was lucky enough not to be hit with a double digit decline, falling only 8.91 percent.

When considering 2009 B2B performance, there are a couple questions that need to be answered to explain the huge declines:

  1. How much of this can be explained by the recession -- after all, the recession has been described as the worst since the Great Depression
  2. How much of this can be explained by the rise of electronic publishing alternatives -- did the web and mobile media finally deliver a fatal blow to B2B print?
  3. How much of this is corporate incompetence, something few want to talk about -- PE firms continue to dominate the industry, while other companies are run like social experiments gone amuck.