Category: Print

Council report: Use of print media by younger farmers is strong

By Jack Semler, Readex ResearchJackSemler2

The overall use of printed ag magazines and newspaper by farmers and ranchers in general can safely be characterized as “strong.” When one considers that print is facing challenges in other markets, it’s almost remarkable to see how print is holding so well in agriculture.

This observation is based on the 2014 Media Channel Study conducted by Readex Research on behalf of the ABM Agri Media Council. This is the third wave of the study, and as such, trends are beginning to emerge. The basic trend, that print in ag remains strong, and that digital media channels are emerging in importance as well, is very clear. When looking at “weekly usage” measures over the three survey waves, that data actually point to an incredible appetite for information and knowledge across the consumer board. Further, when we break out survey data by age, we see what some might think are surprising numbers.

The study data has been analyzed using three overarching age categories, and “younger” operators have consistently been classified as those less than 45 years of age. When answering the question, “How often do you usually read, view, visit, attend, or use the following types of agricultural media or information sources?” 81% of ALL respondents indicated using printed ag magazines and newspapers on a weekly basis. In 2012, the percentage was 82% — no significant difference. When we look at the answer to this same question based on the younger operator, 85% indicated weekly usage of these printed products and that is actually a slight increase from the 2012 measure of 81%.

Continue reading


SIIA/ABM joins appeal of recent Postal Service rate hike

D14-1-28-LeDucraft postal reform legislation would dramatically increase rates for mailers

by David LeDuc, Senior Director, Public Policy, SIIA

Jan. 28, 2014 – As reported in late 2013, SIIA/ABM and other companies throughout the business media world were very disappointed that the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) announced its approval of an exigent rate increase of 4.3 percent, which combined with the previously approved CPI increase of 1.7 percent equals a 6.0 percent rate increase.

On Thursday, January 23, 2014, SIIA/ABM joined with a broad coalition of postal customers and suppliers in filing an appeal to overturn the PRC exigent rate increase. The appeal is sponsored by companies and mailer groups that represent every major class of mail and the majority of mail volume. The PRC justified the rate hike as an emergency measure to offset losses the 2007-2009 recession inflicted on the USPS. However, it is argued that the main cause of the Postal Service’s losses in recent years is the public’s increased use of the internet instead of mail, coupled with the continued inefficiency of postal service operations. The legislation as it exists was designed to prevent the Postal Service from recovering this kind of loss through above-inflation rate increases.

On the legislative front, SIIA/ABM has been working on its own, and with other mailing groups, over the last three years to pass postal legislation that will “right-size” the postal service, guard against service standard degradation, enact needed reforms and protect the current CPI-based postal rate-cap. SIIA/ABM has also been working alongside other stakeholders representing classes of mail the postal service has deemed not to meet attributable costs in order to oppose any additional rate increases of such.

Continue reading

Three strong B-to-B verticals continue to find value in print

Since the Great Recession of 2008, print media in general, and especially advertising-supported print media, have faced the challenge of the new information landscape in different ways. Some traditional ad-based companies have found ways to charge readers and users for their information, especially information distributed in new formats and media. Some have found ways to better serve marketer partners, moving beyond advertising to marketing services and lead generation. And some publishers — indeed, some entire vertical markets — have found ways to remain viable by continuing to sell print advertising.

Print remains a huge piece of the business-to-business media economy. For the entire industry, 29 percent of all revenue comes from print advertising. For some verticals, even after declines, the revenue remains huge.

Here is a look at monthly print revenue for three important vertical markets: healthcare and pharmaceuticals, technology, and agriculture. Even when there have been year-over-year declines, the total revenue remains important; moreover, those declines are not as astounding as those in some industries, and compared with consumer magazine and newspaper publishing. Overall, print revenue fell only 4.8 percent in 2012. For the first quarter of 2013, there was a drop of 6.2 percent, based on preliminary data … which usually skews to underestimate the final revised revenue tally. Some verticals, such as agriculture, saw positive growth over both periods.

This data is based on ABM’s BIN Report, in partnership with by Kantar Media and Inquiry Management Systems (IMS), a technology- and research-based publishing service bureau.

By Michael Moran Alterio

Revealing ‘revenue per user’ trends for B-to-B brands

Back when business-to-business media was a synonym for “trade press” – that is, for print magazines – it was pretty easy to evaluate performance. After all, everyone was in essentially the same line of work. ABM used to produce benchmark studies on profitability for magazines based on total ad revenue, subscription fees, circulation categories, paper and printing costs, and the like. But now the trade press is many different things. Specialty newsletters, trade shows, web sites, mobile apps, conferences, webinars, white papers and of course, still, print magazines all represent business models that defy easy comparison across platforms and media.

One attempt at a common metric for comparison is “revenue per user.” Using the latest data from ABM’s Managing Profits research, it is possible to look at b-to-b brands and analyze the revenue per user metrics across a swath of the industry.

To get at the “user,” we basically added together average monthly print circulation, average monthly website unique visitors and annual event attendee totals. That total represents a brand’s total user base. For 56 brands surveyed in depth, we divided total brand revenue by number of users.

Based on a sum of all revenue and all users across all brands, the average revenue per user in 2012 is $22.97. We also calculated revenue per user for each of the 56 brands individually; the median revenue per user is $31.39. The explanation for the disparity is that a couple of the very highest revenue brands have very low revenue per user, so they bring down the average.

To consider the effect of brand size (i.e., total annual revenue) on revenue per user, we divided the 56 brands into five groups, or quintiles, of 11 brands each (12 in the middle group). From the lowest revenue companies (in the first quintile) to the highest (in the fifth), here is how the revenue per user figures break out:


All 56 Brands

1st Quintile

2nd Quintile

3rd Quintile

4th Quintile

5th Quintile















The only clear conclusion is that the smallest revenue brands display much lower revenue per user than the other brands – about 50 percent to 66 percent lower, roughly speaking, in the $8 to $10 per user range. For the other quintiles, there is a lot of noise in the data, but revenue per user in the $23 to $28 range is a reasonable rough benchmark, to a first approximation.

The 56 brands analyzed can be considered by primary revenue stream, that is, by the percent of revenue deriving from print, digital and event operations. If more than 50 percent of revenue derives from one of these three streams, then that defines the brand. In this research, there were 34 print brands, 13 digital brands, and 9 event brands. Here is how those revenue per user figures break out:


All 56 Brands

Print Brands

Digital Brands

Event Brands











The print revenue per user figures are very close to those for the total survey, because print brands dominate the sample. The data suggests, though, that digital brands deliver lower revenue per user than print brands, following the common wisdom of “print dollars, digital dimes, mobile pennies.” And the data suggests (on a very small sample size) that event brands deliver a much higher revenue per user. Considering the deep engagement of trade show and conference attendees compared with the short attention spans of magazine and website browsers, that too seems to make sense; and it is in line with ABM’s BIN data revealing the huge contribution that event revenue makes to the size of the industry. This research sample, however, did not emphasize event brands.

By Michael Moran Alterio

ABM research: 74% of B2B media users are decision makers

ABM’s newly released Value of B-to-B report details many ways in which business publishers connect buyers and sellers. Most plainly, of 6,682 business professionals polled, 74 percent say that they are involved in purchasing decisions or supplier selections. 22 percent said that they are not involved in those decisions, and 4 percent did not answer the question.
Sponsored by Adobe Systems Inc. and created in partnership with three marketer organizations, eight trade publishers and a research firm, the Value of B-to-B report also polled marketers and publishers for a full 360-degree look at the ways buyers and sellers interact through b-to-b media. The 2 MB PDF download, including 30 pages of analysis and over 350 pages of raw data, is now available at the ABM website.

So of the 4,968 business media users who say that they make buying decisions, what b-to-b resources do they use when researching work-related purchasing decisions or supplier selections?
Percent of buyers who use each media to research purchases

These decision makers are using trade websites, magazines, events and other print and digital media to research their purchases.

To download the full report and to see a video presentation of the results, with more analysis and research from the Value of B-to-B research, click here.

By Michael Moran Alterio

New benchmarks for print editorial productivity

Every year, ABM takes an in-depth look at the workings of the industry in its Managing Profits report. I recently analyzed the 2012 data on editorial operations at print b-to-b magazines, and some interesting benchmarks stood out.

The research considered 45 different brands that included print magazine publishing as a source of revenue. In total, the 45 brands generated 54 percent of their aggregate revenue from print. However, the range was vast, from one brand that derived just 3 percent of revenue from print, to four that were 100 percent print specialized.

Looking at 45 brands that publish magazines, average number of editorial pages per editor per year is 109, and the median number of editorial pages per editor per year is 146. The scatter in this data is wide, with nine brands reporting less than 50 pages per editor, and 6 brands reporting more than 300 pages per editor. For brands reporting higher than 20 percent margins (on the brand level), 11 out of 14 produced 125 pages per editor or more. For brands reporting negative profitability, only one out of seven hit that benchmark.

The 45 brands produced 69 magazines, 30,000 editorial pages and $101 million in print ad revenue. On average, these brands saw print profitability in the 30 percent range (that’s on the brand level, not company-wide).

If you graph pages per editor on the vertical axis of a graph and print profitability on the horizontal axis, you get a graph that looks like this:

Graph: Editorial productivity vs profitability

Editorial productivity is higher among print brands that are more print-focused.

The correlation here suggests that editors are more productive (they process more pages per year) at more print-focused brands. That is, for brands that generate significant revenue from non-print sources, editors process fewer pages per year, presumably because they are processing content for online and event functions.

There is also a correlation between pages per editor and percent of revenue generated by print operations. A possible interpretation is that editors are more productive (they process more pages per year) at more profitable print brands, perhaps because more profitable brands generate more ad pages, and to support those ad pages, more editorial pages are needed. Thus, editorial staff at profitable print brands are more productive than those at unprofitable brands. For brands reporting higher than 25 percent print margins (on the brand level), the median editorial productivity metric reached 200 pages per editor per year. For brands reporting negative profitability, the median was 78 pages per editor per year. Of course, the more likely causal arrow points in the direction of increased ad pages leading to increased productivity as more work piles up, not that increasing editorial productivity drives higher profits.

Note: An “editor” is a staff member listed as compensated through the editorial line, as opposed to sales, marketing, general admin, etc. Thus, “editors” includes designers, copy editors, writers, graphic artists, managers, etc.

By Michael Moran Alterio

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.
Continue reading