B2B Media & Information Industry Up 3.9% in First Half of 2015 to $14 Billion

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Strong growth in digital advertising and data/business information sales, coupled with solid performance from events, more than offset a rough start for print advertising to boost revenue for the B2B media and information industry to more than $14 billion in the first half of 2015, up 3.9 percent over $13.50 billion for the same period in 2014, according to ABM’s Business Information Network, which calculates the size of the industry.

Events remains the largest overall revenue stream in B2B and bounced back from a flat performance in the first half of 2014, up 4.5 percent to $6.26 billion for the first six months of 2015. While trade shows and exhibitions account for the biggest piece of the B2B events business, conferences, single sponsor events, award shows and increasingly international events are accounting for more revenue for B2B media and information companies.

Digital advertising surpassed total print revenue in the second quarter of 2015 ($1.66 billion versus $1.65 billion) and saw a 14.7 percent leap to $3.12 billion in revenue for the first six months of 2015. While display digital advertising hasn’t turned out to be the cash cow that many expected it to be as CPMs continue to sink in both the B2B and consumer digital media space, the melding of digital advertising with marketing services solutions, the rise of native advertising and digitally-driven content marketing (which account for about 20 percent of digital advertising for both B2B and consumer media companies and is poised to grow to 50 percent of digital advertising revenue by 2016, according to Polar), as well as new KPIs and improvements in viewability and delivery will keep digital advertising at the forefront of B2B media growth.

Data and Business Information is one of the hottest new opportunities for B2B (companies such as B2B mainstay Hanley Wood sold off its exhibitions business in late 2014 for $375 million to focus on data and information services, while relative newcomers like Greentech Media are putting research and information services first, supported by media and events) and while revenue remains small compared to events, digital and print, it continues to post solid growth quarter to quarter, up 6.6% in Q1, 8.8% in Q2 and up 7.7 percent to $1.47 billion for the first half of 2015.

While print advertising saw some stabilization in 2014 (a 7 percent increase in the fourth quarter and an overall decrease of 2.7 percent for full year, the smallest drop in recent history), print fell 5.6 percent to $3.18 billion for the first six months of 2015. Categories that were notable exceptions included Restaurants, Foodservice, Lodging & Gaming (up 3.2 percent) and Resources, Environment and Utility (up 2 percent). 

The BIN report combines data from several sources. Event revenue is supplied by CEIR; print advertising data is provided by publishing service bureau IMS. Data on B2B digital advertising is estimated by ABM based on information provided by the IAB and the data component of the BIN report is provided by Outsell, supplemented by publicly available data and ABM estimates.

2015 B2B Media and Information Industry Revenue
$ billion 1Q 2015 1Q 2014 % Change 2Q 2015 2Q 2014 % Change Half Year 2015 Half Year 2014 %Change
Events $3.57 $3.41 4.70% $2.69 $2.58 4.20% $6.26 $5.99 4.50%
Print $1.53 $1.71 -10.50% $1.65 $1.72 -4.01% $3.18 $3.37 -5.60%
Digital $1.46 $1.37 6.50% $1.66 $1.35 22.90% $3.52 $2.72 29.40%
Data $720 $675 6.66% $750 $689 8.85% $1.47 $1.36 7.77%
Total: $7.28 $7.16 1.70% $6.82 $6.34 7.50% $14.10 $13.50 7.40%

Matt Matt Kinsman is vice president of content + programming at Connectiv, the only association focused on the integrated b-to-b model—including publications, events, digital media, marketing services and business information. Prior to joining Connectiv's predecessor American Business Media in 2011, Kinsman was executive editor of Folio:, the leading information provider for the magazine industry.