Category: Research and Metrics

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%.

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Research overview: Reaching and influencing b-to-b buyers

July 30, 2014 – Business-to-business decision makers tend to be conservative white males, mobile-savvy but using phones and tablets primarily for email, and reachable via traditional media channels, according to a review of 10 studies of b-to-b decision makers by The report, “Reaching and Influencing B2B Buyers and Decision-Makers,” gathers demographic and preferential survey results from a range of sources, including ABM’s own Value of B-to-B research.

Using a CMO Council study, the report identifies three stages that comprise the buyer journey: Awareness, Evaluation, and Purchase. Trade publishers and research reports ranked highly in the first stage of the journey, but for making specific purchases, tech specs and data sheets were number one.

Among the other takeaways from the report:

 — Demographically, b-to-b buyers increasingly skew towards conservative white males.

 — Decision-makers have adopted mobile devices and often use them for email.

 — The vast majority of buyers can be reached with traditional media.

 — They tend to rely most on websites and print magazines to research purchases.

For more takeaways, and the data behind them, the report is available as a 26-page, $99 download.

By Michael Moran Alterio

Event type diversity varies widely by company size

Taking a deep look at the kinds of events that media companies operate, ABM’s Event Council has completed preliminary research that revels some striking results: The types of events that companies produce vary widely depending on the size of the media company.

In the United States b-to-b events drive a big plurality of total industry revenue. Event revenue constituted 45 percent of the entire b-to-b media and info landscape in 2013 (the remaining 55 percent is comprised of print magazines, digital media, and database/information products). That revenue is keeping pace with inflation and a bit more; event revenue increased industry-wide last year, rising 3.3 percent from $11.66 billion in 2012 to $12.04 billion in 2013.

But it is a mistake to think of “business events” as a monolith. Even a broad characterization of events as “conferences” and “trade shows” fails to distinguish among the many kinds of events. The research polled ABM member companies and determined the percent of total event revenue that is generated by each kind of event.

B-to-B event revenue by event type, 2014

This weighted-by-total-event-revenue pie chart primarily reflects the priorities of the largest companies. And the overwhelming contributor to revenue is trade shows — with or without associated conferences, trade shows generate more than half of all revenue.

However, the picture shifts when considering smaller companies, those with event revenue under $25 million annually.

Event revenue breakdown by type of event for smaller companies in 2014

Medium-size companies ($5 to $25 million in annual event sales) seem to have developed niche businesses in award programs and conferences, which perhaps offer insufficient revenue to interest the largest players.

Both kinds of trade shows (and sponsored buyer events) are the tail that wags the dog for small companies that derive most of their event revenue from them. Training, single-sponsor, and other events each contributed 0 percent.

These results will be further explored with further research to be conducted later in 2014. For more information about the Event Council, which is open to ABM and SIIA members generally, please contact ABM’s Elizabeth Reid at or call her at 212-784-6359.

By Michael Moran Alterio

Two studies: Marketers will boost digital ad budgets

In the first quarter of 2013, ABM polled 74 marketers about their expectations for future B-to-B advertising. Separately, Forrester Research polled 56 marketers in the third quarter of 2013 on the same topic. The results showed some deep parallels. Here are some responses to similar questions posed in the ABM research, called The Value of B-to-B, and the Forrester research, called Q3 2013 North American B2B Marketing Budget Online Survey, reported in a white paper called Focus B2B Marketing Budget Gains On Business Outcomes To Succeed In 2014. The Business Marketing Association (BMA) was a partner in both studies.


Both research projects asked marketers to estimate their future budgets:

ABM Value of B-to-B Marketer Budget Expectations

Forrester Research Marketer Budget Expectations

Both surveys show that ad budgets are on the rise. The later research shows a smaller forecasted rise, so the trendline is for continuing growth in marketer budgets, although perhaps at a decelerating pace.


The two studies also asked marketers about their priorities for future spending, that is, detailing areas in which they expect to increase and decrease spending:

ABM Value of B-to-B Marketer Focus Areas

Forrester Research Marketer Focus Areas

Here too we see similar trends: Digital ad budgets are on the rise across the board. More marketers plan to decrease their traditional print advertising than plan to increase it.

One major difference: Forrester found little support for face-to-face events (30 percent plan to decrease spending vs 21 percent planning an increase), while ABM found much more support for events (only 9 percent planning to spend less, with 38 percent planning to spend more).


One major “key takeaway” not supported by either research study: Forrester emphasizes that “CMOs must focus budget choices on customer engagement,” including “thought leadership.” Deep into the report, Forrester explains this takeaway: “Forrester believes that the survey reflects more conservative responses than we will see play out in practice.” Unsupported by its own results, then, Forrester advises CMOs to prioritize regional shows over national, to optimize digital and social, and to focus content creation on thought leadership.

“Thought leadership” means “CMOs will need to concentrate content marketing efforts on independent customer-centered research.” Or in other words, independent research firm Forrester advises CMOs to spend more on independent research, based on no actual research.

In related news, McDonalds top execs urge consumers to eat more hamburgers. Also, Rolling Stone Magazine says “Like a Rolling Stone” is the greatest song of all time.

By Michael Moran Alterio

World trends suggest Internet ads will outsell magazines and newspapers by 2015

In its latest World Magazine Trends report, worldwide magazine media association FIPP emphasizes the shift from print to digital as one of the most important revenue trends. FIPP estimates that worldwide ad revenue from digital sources currently outpaces that from print newspapers. And FIPP predicts that, globally, “Internet advertising will increase its share of the ad market from 18.4 percent in 2012 to 24.6 percent in 2015 … exceeding the combined total of newspaper and magazine advertising.” That’s for a combined worldwide media market that includes subscription and advertising revenue for print, digital and events with an aggregate size over $500 billion U.S. dollars.

The data on worldwide print vs digital b-to-b ad revenue over time shows illustrates this trend:

global print and digital ad revenue 2008-2015
*in millions of 2012 U.S. dollars.

FIPP estimates that b-to-b ad sales generally make up about 20 percent of a $100 billion global magazine market. That business-to-business market is centered in Western Europe, North America, and, to a lesser extent, Asia and the Pacific, as illustrated in this chart of market share by region:

global print and digital ad revenue market breakdown by region

FIPP World Magazine Trends 2013-14FIPP’s data dives deeply into specifics on 50-plus countries, with U.S. b-to-b data supplied by ABM. The report is available online and in print, and as a courtesy to ABM and SIIA, members can purchase the report with a 20 percent discount. For more information on FIPP World Magazine Trends 2013-14, contact FIPP’s Helen Bland by email at, and mention that you are an SIIA member.

By Michael Moran Alterio

High renewal rates offer data products resiliency vs recessions

One of the strengths of the business information segment is that business consumers of data products usually need access to data on a recurring basis, and they need the most current information available. That sets business information services as prime sources of recurring revenue for publishers of the service. Success in obtaining that recurring revenue can be measured through renewal rate, and data services are exemplified by high renewal rates. Data customers come to rely on data services and see them as essential tools; even in depressed economies, renewal rates show remarkable resiliency.

Looking at two research projects conducted independently by ABM and InfoCommerce last year, respondents offered benchmark results in line with these ideas, in the form of high renewal rates and long duration subscriptions. Surveying ABM members with significant data business, the research found 80 percent to 81 percent renewal rates on a unit basis, and 82 percent to 85 percent renewal rates on a dollar basis.

InfoCommerce’s research broke renewal down by company size. Almost a quarter of large companies (over $5 million in annual data revenue) reported renewal rates in the 85 percent to 89 percent range; 35 percent reported renewals in the 90 percent to 94 percent range; and 29 percent reported renewal rates in the 95 percent to 100 percent range. That means 86 percent of large companies report renewal rates of 85+ percent. For companies under $1 million in annual sales, 80 percent of small companies reported renewal rates in the 85+ percent range.

This benchmark result – that typical renewal rates for data products usually top 80 percent, and often edge even higher – is a point of congruence between the ABM and InfoCommerce research.

InfoCommerce also reports that the average life of a subscription is two to three years, and that may be an underestimate. If a subscribing employee leaves a company and his or her replacement purchases the data product, it may register as new subscription, although the company continues to use the service.

The hallmark of business information products is that they are resistant – albeit not immune – to tough economic circumstances. While marketers and vendors may perceive advertising budgets as fat to be trimmed as needed, or see events as luxuries that can be cancelled, data products are more commonly viewed as essential tools that are crucial to core business interests. Moreover, for that reason, as business conditions improve after a recession, data consumers tend to return relatively quickly to products that they had dropped when times were tougher.

For more information on this research and on trends in business information, download ABM’s free white paper, to be released at the end of the month, here.

By Michael Moran Alterio

Data industry trends: New markets, fast data, new research

At the SIIA DataContent 2013 Conference last week in Philadelphia, I picked out several interesting trends in the business information field. Here are a few key take-aways from the event:

Meaningful Data: For FindTheCompany CEO Kevin O’Connor, huge new masses of data represent an opportunity. The availability of vast public data sets – from financial statements and filings to government databases of visa information, federal contracts, and imports and exports to proprietary and private databases and publications – can be made useful by a company that provides an editorial role to make that data useful and available. The key is “making complex, distributed firm data available for meaningful consumption,” said O’Connor.

New Markets: According to David Chun, CEO of compensation data research firm Equilar, an information business driver is the ability of data products to open new markets. He specifically highlighted the possibilities in benchmarking, pay-for-performance analytics and connection mapping. Chun pointed to his own company’s fast growth as evidence that reaching new markets can result in dividends.

Fast Data: New data products are changing the way people communicate with people … and the way machines communicate with machines. According to Peter Lankford, president of the Securities Technology Analysis Center, high speed data products and machine-readable data are going to be playing large roles in retail, Web ads, power grids, healthcare and manufacturing – just as they now do in financial markets. “There is an automation revolution underway,” Lankford said at the DataContent 2013 conference.

At ABM, the “data” field is one of the four key components I measure in compiling the total size of the b-to-b media and information industry. Sponsored by ABM’s Business Information Committee, a new ABM research project is gathering benchmark data to measure the success of data subscription products. Generally, data products deliver revenue through advertising models and subscription models. This new research is trying to put some numbers behind the latter, for example, in terms of subscription growth rate, percent of revenue from new products, and other metrics.

If your business includes data products, please participate in the research by clicking here. All participants will receive a report on the results, as well as a chance to win a $100 Amex gift card.

I’ll be presenting the research results with Infocommerce CEO Russell Perkins, the organizer of the DataContent event, at ABM’s Executive Forum, coming Nov. 11-12 in Chicago. We’ll be discussing strategies and benchmark KPIs for media companies offering database products and for companies moving in that direction. Find out more and register for Executive Forum here.

By Michael Moran Alterio