Revenue Flat for the B2B Media & Information Industry in 2016

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A slow start turned into a flat finish for the B2B Media and Information industry in 2016, with normal stalwarts such as events and digital advertising showing some weakness. Overall revenue grew less than a percentage point to $28.49 billion, up from $28.27 billion in 2015. According to upcoming Connectiv Operating Revenue & Cost Report, 47.8 percent of respondents said that gross revenue was higher in 2016 than 2015, while 52.2 percent said it was lower (of that same group, 91.3 percent say they’re forecasting higher gross revenue in 2017 than 2016).

Event revenue grew 1.2 percent year over year but fell 0.4% in the fourth quarter of 2017, marking the end of 25 consecutive quarters of growth, according to the Center for Exhibitions Industry Research. Exhibitors rose another 1.2 percent (best performing categories were Food and Building, Construction, Home and Repair). Attendance was flat thanks to an 11 percent drop in the Raw Materials and Science verticals, which saw attendance fall victim to low oil prices in 2016.

Digital advertising grew 3.2 percent to $6.5 billion. However, that’s a very modest uptick compared to the double digit growth the industry has seen in digital advertising in recent years. The bulk of digital advertising revenues are attributed to search and major platforms such as Google and Facebook rather than publishers (B2B or consumer) and in B2B, digital advertising is becoming increasingly challenged with both large customers (which are often targeting customers directly via programmatic and social media) and smaller customers, which don’t send as much on digital and often seem resistant to moving their spend beyond traditional display advertising.

While print advertising seemed to enjoy some stability in both 2014 and 2015, the free-fall in pages and revenue appeared to pick up again in 2016. Overall revenue fell 8.6 percent to $5.78 billion and Agriculture and Manufacturing were the only two of 22 verticals tracked that saw increases in revenue in 2016, (up an impressive 17 percent and a middling 0.27 percent, respectively).  

Data and information services continues to gain more market share (according to the Connectiv Outlook, by 2020, the majority of Connectiv members expect Paid Content and Information Services to be their second largest revenue stream after Events). Publishers are growing by acquisition (such as Winisght’s acquisition of Technomic, which provides primary and secondary information for the food services market, in late 2015) as well as organically (Watt Global Media is planning to launch a subscription data business in the second quarter of 2017). The current BIN report tracks paid content and information services among “traditional” B2B publishers—in 2017, those estimates will be recalculated to account for information services from Connectiv members such as Thomson Reuters, Lexis-Nexis, Bloomberg and Informa.  




Total Annual B2B Media Industry Revenue

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Source: Connectiv’s BIN Report

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 Connectiv based on information provided by the IAB and the data component of the BIN report is supplemented by publicly available data and Connectiv estimates. 


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.