Digital transition and economic gloom slows revenue growth for consumer and B2B publishers

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TheMediaBriefing Experts' Blog, B2B Media, Consumer Media

B2B publishing and consumer publishing are seen as different worlds with different rules – getting companies or businesses to buy things are rather separate challenges.

Yet all publishers are grappling with technological and behavioral changes and economic fluctuation that affect their businesses. It's not the challenges that create the style of response, but the different roles they play - one to inform the other to entertain. 

The recent interim results from magazine publisher Future Media and Daily Mail and General Trust-owned financial information firm Euromoney highlight this contrast. 

Future (quarter ending December 31 2012)


-- Revenues: Is slightly down the new up? Revenues were down three percent year on year but a lot of that was due to continued print declines in the US. Taking the UK on its own, revenues were down just 1 percent.

-- Digital: Non-print income increased 24 percent year-on-year, and now accounts for 23 percent of revenues, up from 18 percent in the same period a year ago.  

-- Ads: Digital advertising accounts for 54 percent of all ad revenue, up from 45 percent a year earlier. 

--Digital circulation: Over the last year, circulation revenues from digital editions are increasing at a 16 percent per quarter run-rate. 

The rhetoric at Future for the last couple of years has been all about "transition" to digital. That's not as prominent in Mark Wood's admittedly brief statement on this set of interim results - which talks about the digital growth and the success of digital editions - but it is clear in the results themselves. 

That transition is a gradual process, and one which doesn't leave a whole lot of wiggle room around the edges. It's a simple question of replacing declining print revenues with digital revenues from very similar products in a new medium.  

Euromoney (quarter ending January 30)


-- Revenues: At £95.4 million, revenues were up one percent. That broadly flat figure masks a lot of variation in revenues at different parts of the business...

-- Subscriptions: The bulk of Euromoney's revenues come from subscriptions, which were down 3 percent in the quarter to £49 million compared to £50.5 million in the same period a year ago. 

-- Advertising: Advertising was proportionally the worst hit part of the business - down 10 percent year-on-year to £11.2 million.

-- Sponsorship and events: Sponsorship was up 8 percent to £10.8 million and delegate revenue was up 1 percent to £20.4 million. According to Euromoney that growth was down to the launch of new events. 

Euromoney's Q1 wasn't hugely promising, but the fact it could cope with subs and advertising declines while still growing underlines the greater degree of control it can exert over its performance. Declining core revenues aren't necessarily a problem, as long as you can grow revenues from new events and digital information products to offset it. 

A degree of control

At Future, the story is primarily about turning a print product into a digital one. That transition is difficult, and subject to the vagaries of the online ad market and the distribution methods for digital editions controlled by the likes of Apple and Amazon. All that is taking place while trying to keep print revenues afloat.

What neither firm can completely escape, however, is the broader health of the economy.

In Future's case, the deflated ad market is hitting print hard and suppressing digital ad revenue growth. For Euromoney, its financial institution customers are still being pretty cautious about spending on everything - information, events, advertising and whatever else it might come up with.

Euromoney might have more room to innovate - launching new products tweaking existing ones - but just like Future - it still needs a healthy economy to maintain strong growth. 

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