The size of the technology industry in b-to-b media

An ABM member recently asked me for some data on the size of the technology vertical in b-to-b media. Getting a handle on the size of the industry is a part of the ABM mission for metrics. We’ve worked on that through our Business Information Network (BIN) Report for years. Using that data, here is a look at how the tech industry breaks out.

Print Data

ABM’s partner for print b-to-b ad spending is IMS, and the data they give is divided into 22 categories. Historical data for five tech-related areas is given below. Over the last five years, all of these categories have declined in size: science publications, the smallest category, declined 16 percent over five years; computing and telecom, the largest, declined 65 percent. That’s using data as it was originally released, unrevised, and also not adjusted for inflation. With inflation added in, the drops would have been somewhat more dramatic.

Although the historical trend is interesting, the goal is to get a sense of the size of the tech b-to-b market as it stands now. Here are the last two years of data used to create the graph above, in table form, in millions of dollars:

2012 2011
Science, Research & Development $132.9 $133.3
Aviation, Aerospace & Military $140.6 $156.4
Electronic Engineering $171.7 $179.3
Building, Engineering, Construction $384.5 $411.6
Computing, Software, Telecomm $279.0 $358.8
Total Tech $1,108.7 $1,239.3

Note that the 2012 data is a forecast created by ABM based on first half data. The forecast does not come from IMS.

Digital Data

The digital component of the BIN Report is primarily derived by ABM from data released in IAB’s  Internet Ad Revenue Report, which divides the b-to-b marketplace into 10 categories, two of them tech related: Computing Products and Telecommunications. The IAB report lumps consumer and b-to-b revenue together, and adds in large search engines such as Google, that, in my opinion, operate on a very different business model than the b-to-b model. Using IMS data on print consumer vs b-to-b spending, I broke out the portion of IAB’s reported tech spend that covers b-to-b,m excluding consumer and search engine revenue.

For 2011, I estimate that the two segments generated b-to-b media income of $288.6 million for Computing and $431.1 million for Telecom.

Print and Digital

The digital total includes a lot more than just display-related advertising; it covers Classifieds and Directories, Lead Generation, Email and Mobile as well. I used the ratios reported by IAB for all digital spending and applied them to just the two telecom segments. Putting Computing and Telecom together lets me compare the data with the Telecom, Computing and Software category from IMS. For 2011, the result looks like this:

B-to-B Tech* Media Industry
2011 Revenue ($mil) % of total
Print Print Advertising $179.27 19.9%
Digital Classifieds and Directories $109.44 12.2%
Lead Generation $64.56 7.2%
E-mail $9.04 1.0%
Mobile $67.70 7.5%
Digital Video Commercials $76.74 8.5%
Ad banners / display ads $288.92 32.1%
Sponsorships $47.55 5.3%
Rich media $55.78 6.2%
Total Tech Market $899.01 100.0%

*”Tech” here refers to Computing, Software, and Telecom.

Here’s a visual look at this data:

Note that this data is several estimates away from its source. It is based on an estimate of the part of the industry that is b-to-b vs consumer. It assumes that the breakdown of digital revenue in tech is the same as the breakdown more generally across all categories.

Conferences, Trade Shows, Events

I also have no idea how big the tech event business is, but the good folks at CEIR sure do. They have a report on the subject that looks comprehensive, called “The CEIR Index Report: An Analysis of the 2011 Exhibition Industry – Communications and Information Technology Sector (IT).” But the data is unfortunately locked away behind a paywall.

By Michael Moran Alterio


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