Digital ads continue to drive industry growth

April 9, 2014 - In 2013, the business-to-business media and information industry grew 4.8 percent, according to the full year 2013 ABM BIN Report. That compares with a revised growth rate of 2.7 percent in 2012. In terms of total dollar volume, industry revenue in 2013 was $26.85 billion, compared with $25.62 billion in 2012.

Looking at the revenue growth by segment from 2012 to 2013, not including an adjustment for inflation, digital advertising grew the fastest, at 22.2 percent. Data/business information grew 10.2 percent, events grew 3.3 percent and print advertising fell 4.4 percent, a negative growth rate. Although print revenue fell, the number of b-to-b magazines published in the United States rose slightly by the close of 2013, up to 6,046 from the 6,040 published at the end of 2012.

The BIN (Business Information Network) data considers four general sources of trade media revenue: trade shows and conferences, or “events”; print advertising; digital advertising; and business information, or “data.” For the full year 2013, event revenue constituted 44.9 percent of total revenue, print, 26.2 percent; digital, 18.6 percent; and data, 10.3 percent. The revenue stream share can be seen in the two pie charts below:

B2B Media Industry Revenue Streams, 2008-2013

From 2008 to 2013, the percent of industry revenue from events has remained the largest contributor, with a revenue share in the range of 45 percent to 48 percent. The portion from print advertising has decreased from 36.6 percent to 26.2 percent. The successful growth of data and digital ad revenue has made up the difference, with data increasing its slice of the pie from 6.2 percent to 10.3 percent; while digital advertising has sprinted from 11.2 percent to 18.6 percent.

Since the Great Recession, the b-to-b media and information industry has still not returned to the record revenue set in 2008, when the total industry generated $29.23 billion in 2013 dollars. The past six years of historical data, both unadjusted and adjusted for inflation, can be seen below:

B2B Media Industry Revenue Breakdown Table, 2008-2013

For the last three months of 2013, quarterly industry sales across the four main business lines topped $7 billion, a high-tide mark not seen in recent years. That total quarterly revenue of $7.13 billion represents 4.3 percent growth compared with the fourth quarter of 2012. Over the past eight quarters, the growth of the digital ad contribution to total industry sales is clear:

B2B Media Industry Quarterly Revenue Breakdown, 2012-2013

ABM compiles the core data for its BIN Report from several participating partners. Trade show data is contributed by CEIR, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research. The data and business information stream is provided by Outsell, a research and advisory firm focused on the publishing and information industries. Digital advertising data is an ABM estimate based on the Interactive Advertising Bureau Ad Revenue Report. The print advertising data is provided by Inquiry Management Systems (IMS), a technology- and research-based publishing service bureau; the print data for previous periods has not been revised and is an ABM estimate based on the figures released at the time by IMS. The number of business magazines published in the United States is from MediaFinder.

The ABM BIN Report tracks industry revenue data for business media and information companies on a quarterly basis. For more information, visit the ABM BIN Report Web page or contact ABM research and content director Michael Moran Alterio at or call (212) 784-6365.

By Michael Moran Alterio