The financial crisis may have been the final nail in the B2B coffin. In 2009, ad pages fell by a quarter – and while ad pages ticked up slightly the next two years, by 2015 they were 17 percent below those terrible 2009 numbers (40 percent below 2008). However, whilst ad page gains and losses used to tell the whole story in B2B publishing a decade or two ago, they don’t any longer.
Publishers are today reporting that revenue from events is nearly double what is earned from print ad pages. Even digital is getting close to surpassing print ad pages, if the numbers from Connectiv’s BIN Report are to be believed. This year ad page revenue amounted to $6.4 billion, while digital was just a tick below that.
Events are so important today, though the market for events is itself oversaturated to the point of insanity. Many of the once vitally important trade shows are really down, and consolidation is the theme of the day.
I’m still a big believer in trade publishing, and in marketing through trade publishers. But so many advertising decision makers are young, more comfortable with social media, and less interested in designing print advertising. It’s a far tougher business to succeed in if you are reliant on print magazines and web publishing alone.