The Association of Business Information & Media Companies, known as the ABM, reported that its latest BIN report says that total revenue for B2B media companies in the U.S. grew up 6.9% last year.
The report is a combination of data from various sources including the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), Inquiry Management Systems (known to publishers as IMS), and Outsell, which provides information on data sales.
I've always been more than a little skeptical of revenue reports simply because they always tend to show increases due to printed rate increases and the reluctance on the part of publishers to admit publicly to rate cutting.
2011 ended just as poorly for B2B publishers as it did consumer publishers. The ABM's own report for December shows that ad pages tanked in the last month of the year, falling 6.57% over 2010.
The good news was that 2011 showed a small, but insignificant increase in ad pages of 0.36 percent – better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, but hardly a robust recovery.
The problem for many B2B publishers is that they are hanging on by their finger nails after several seriously down years – 2009 being the worst of them. The year prior, the financial meltdown occurred, right in the middle of fall planning, no less.
As for 2011's revenue increases, most of the four segments measured recorded small increases except for digital. According to the ABM, this revenue number was estimated by the association using information from IAB/PricewaterhouseCoopers and other sources. It shows that B2B digital revenue growth last year was up 22.0 percent. Meanwhile, the Kantar Media report said that digital display advertising grew overall at a much slower rate of only 5.5 percent.
Of course, the difficulty in measuring digital remains that the measuring services are not nearly as exact as ad page count reports from firms like IMS – and they most likely will remain in this state for quite a while, making it exceptionally hard to get a clear picture of the state of the medium.