Why Business-to-Business Print Media Is a Long Way From Extinction

“Print business magazines will soon be dead” went the predictions of self-proclaimed internet gurus of the mid-1990s. But here we are, 20 years into the advertising-supported business-to-business (B2B) digital media era, and one thing is certain: B2B print magazines haven’t gone away.

What’s more, much of the growth of B2B digital media is tied to trusted brands that today have thriving multi-channel opportunities (print, digital, live) for buyers and sellers to connect in industry marketplaces.

Magazines are still popular with readers

While the business model of weekly news magazines and daily newspapers makes their future more challenging than other print products, there is no evidence that the entire magazine medium is going away.

Samir “Mr. Magazine” Husni, director of the Magazine Innovation Center at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi, is an undisputed master of data related to the launches and foldings of all forms of magazines (consumer, B2B, association, custom, etc.). “I’m seeing no signs of a slowdown in print magazine launches,” He recently said. “And the numbers of magazines being folded are considerably smaller than the numbers being launched.

“If one magazine dies, it’s not the end of the industry,” he continued. “Do I need to tell you how many TV shows have come and gone over the years? Yet nobody said that television was dead.”  When it comes to consumer magazines, there were 2,000 titles published in 1980. Today, there are 10,000, Husni reports.

Why readers like B2B magazines

While news delivered via the internet accounts for at least 50 percent of our news consumption, magazines still fit into the media preferences of industry and trade professionals.

Here are six reasons why:

  1. While digital channels distribute information quickly, readers indicate they believe that magazines have more relevant, useful and compelling content.
  1. There’s a perceived higher-bar that content must cross to make it onto the pages of a magazine. Such a perception heightens the importance of the ads running adjacent to that content.
  1. The content of a B2B magazine often influences the professional conversations of industry leaders.
  1. The experience of “dead links” has led many digital news consumers to view the content found on the web as temporary, not permanent. On the other hand, print B2B magazines are often displayed on coffee tables and in collections to demonstrate the reader has long, strong ties to their industry.
  1. Because live business events are so important to the business of B2B media and the people who attend such events, print magazines serve as an extension—both before and after—of the events themselves.
  1. The magazine format allows marketers to have a big space to tell big brand stories like the rollout of new products and features.

Business-to-Business Media, By the Numbers

According to Connectiv, the B2B media association, there has been a dramatic upward growth in the marketing dollars going to digital advertising. However, print B2B advertising has dropped by only 4 percent during the past seven years. What’s more, B2B print and digital advertising are around the same level.

In other words, there will always be shifts in the types of media available to marketers and business readers. But don’t expect B2B magazines to go away anytime soon.

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