BtoB magazine reported this week (B-to-b magazine pages continue to plunge) that print advertising in B2B magazines declined a whopping 32% this past April compared to April 2008. In fact, the strongest (in this case the best negative) industry was government print advertising spending, which decreased 17%. The study is based on research from American Business Media’s Business Information Network.
In the press release ABM President-CEO Gordon T. Hughes II said “Though we are not surprised by these numbers given the current state of the economy, we remain optimistic about the prospect for business media and information services as the economy improves. Digital offerings continue to generate new revenues, and our custom media and data businesses also continue to show strength.”
I would agree, but unless you have been asleep for the past 10 years this is a no brainer. Of course B2B companies are going to spend online, especially when it’s cost effective (or completely free) and if print publications simply vanish.
So here are my five predictions about where B2B companies will spend their money in the coming year. Please add to the list.
1. We’ll see more B2B publications go entirely or mostly online in the next six months. Again, this is obvious, but I think there is going to be a rapid uptake in the amount of publications that choose to do so. B2B companies will have no choice but to make more investments in banner and email advertising. Hopefully we’ll see some good creative come out of this. I don’t think we’ll see B2B companies run to national business publications to spend their money.
2. Some B2B companies will decide (unfortunately so) to invest in and create their own social networking sites. I’ve started to see this and I think it’s a failure. For one, the reason there is success in the social media space today is because these networks exist “outside” of any company platform. There is a trust factor that exists, rightly so, in the success of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn that does not exist within a company’s domain. I think these networks will quietly go away (as will the money spent on them).
3. CRM will become more important, especially as services like Twitter feed into them.
4. Bloggers in the B2B space will continue to increase, with more taking aim at covering B2B companies. I think this will happen for two reasons — B2B employees who have been laid off can express their thoughts in the blogosphere and the reduction of B2B print media. Unfortunately, I think most B2B companies will continue to ignore this space. I hope I’m wrong.
5. As the economy comes back and budgets grow I think we’ll also see a rise in the valuable “face to face” time. Remember those days? After months of travel bans and companies growing their presence on Twitter and Facebook, people will actually want to meet in person. A novel concept, but I think that smaller, highly focused customer events will be the rage in 2010. We’ll just see if anyone live Tweets them by then.