Boom-time for business media

British business media is worth almost £23bn annually and is set to grow despite the economic downturn, according to new research commissioned by the trade body, the Periodicals Publishers Association.

Business media, which includes the B2B side of brands like the Financial Times, The Economist Group and Reuters, as well as solely B2B companies, enjoyed a turnover in 2006 of almost £23bn, up from £15.6bn in 2004, according to the survey conducted by GfK NOP.

Print remains at the heart of B2B operations, generating £8.9bn of turnover or 46 per cent of total

revenue. But less than 15 per cent of publishers said they would diversify into new print products in the next five years.

Online is the fastest growing revenue stream, up from £1.2 bn in 2004 to £2.8bn in 2006, and is expected to be the biggest area of development in the next five years, with more than a third of companies surveyed predicting further investment in this area.

Incisive Media CEO and chair of the PPA’s Business Media Council Tim Weller said: ‘As a sector we are truly the envy of our British media peers and the blueprint for a successful industry, and by God let’s not be ashamed to shout about it.

‘To put it into context, at £23bn the UK business information and professional media industry is the same size as the UK education sector.”

Face-to-face events – such as exhibitions and awards – also represented 15 per cent of revenue or £2.8bn in 2006, with a quarter predicting further investment for their company in the next five years. Almost a third saw potential in broadcasting, which generated £289m in revenue in 2006 for business publishers.

Marketing services, including credit checking made up £3.3bn or 18 per cent of turnover, £0.5bn came from data publishing, and £275m from market research and management consultancy reports. The reminder of the £22.8bn is made of non-specific streams of revenue, partly due to lack of access to private company accounts.

The 2007 survey included some new sectors not included in the 2004 survey. Adjusted for inflation of 9.2 per cent between 2004 and 2006, and worked out according to the parameters of the 2004 survey, the new figure still represents an 18 per cent revenue growth in the sector in two years.

The 2007 survey included some new sectors not included in the 2004 survey. Adjusted for inflation of 9.2 per cent between 2004 and 2006, and worked out according to the parameters of the 2004 survey, the new figure still represents an 18 per cent revenue growth in the sector in two years.

Weller said that the figures indicated how well British editors and journ­alists had overcome what he called the ‘biggest cultural challenge’of delivering news when it happens, wherever it happens.

Weller said: ‘What editors can take from this is how well business media have embraced the different delivery channels, such as online, and in person delivery.

‘If you compare it to other forms of media we seem to have got our business models right. We’re making money online and we’re making money face to face.”

But the survey does sound a note of caution in the light of challenging economic conditions. It estimates that the 2007 figure will be approximately £25bn, a nine per cent year-on-year increase. The 2008 figure is predicted to be ‘only marginally’in excess of this.

Weller said: ‘The economic backdrop is not great. We need to learn lessons from the last downturn. We need to make sure that we constantly connect the buyer and seller.”

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