PUBLICATION PRINTING — Getting the Numbers To “Ad” Up

“Business-to-business magazines continued to suffer in 2003. We believe that the fourth quarter of 2003 will be down from last year, continuing a trend that goes back to January 2001,” the Banta exec continues.

Some Strong Signs

“We do, however, see a little light at the end of the tunnel. With capital spending finally starting to show increases, spending in the B2B marketplace will once again pick up. We don’t see that starting to happen until the second quarter of 2004, as ad spending lags capital spending. Overall, we expect just slight growth in pages for 2004 in the business magazine category,” Hanson reveals.

Dan Knotts, president of Magazine, Catalog and Retail Industries at RR Donnelley, says his company is seeing recovery in each of the segments—consumer, trade and specialty publications—it serves. “However, there is a lot of variability, with some publishers recovering quickly and others still declining,” Knotts points out.

“During the past several years, major publishers have done more pruning of their portfolios than expansion,” the Donnelley exec continues. “New title launches are primarily being driven by entrepreneurial companies targeting new consumer or business interests. We expect to see an acceleration of title launches in 2004 relative to 2003, primarily in the special interest and trade segments.”

New title launches already have been a bright spot for Banta in 2003, reports Hanson, and he expects that trend to continue next year. “Through September 2003, we’d already been printing more startup magazines than in all of 2002 or 2001. These startups come from both spin-offs of existing magazines and completely new launches. This tells me that the publishing community still believes that ink-on-paper magazines are the best way to communicate with readers,” he says.

The outlook is not so promising on other fronts, notes RR Donnelley’s Knotts. For example, he expects publishers to pare back on quantities of magazines they deliver to the newsstand.

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