In recent months, Ziff-Davis has folded a magazine in a dying market, dropped advertising from another in a waning market, and bought two in the growing interactive field. This fall, the computer trade publisher will team up with seven big-city newspapers to reach the burgeoning small and home officer user. ‘The point is to make sure you’ve got radar installations in all the right places,’ says Ziff spokesman Greg Jarboe. ‘You must move with the market.’
That’s been a hard lesson for the trade press, which is so closely linked to its marketplace that there’s little room for error. Even the seemingly immune computer niche declined in ad pages this year, though most top-ranking advertisers pushed up spending (IBM tops the list with a nearly 50% increase over ’92, according to Adscope). ‘The market continues to grow at double-digit rates, but it doesn’t move in a straight line,’ says Jarboe. ‘It shifts to the side quickly.’
Indeed. Take a look at healthcare books, suddenly facing an uncertain ’94 as the drug companies await Clinton’s health-care plan. ‘They’re cutting back budgets because they won’t be able to control pricing like they want to,’ says analyst Martin S. Walker.
For trades in general, raising rates to survive has become the norm. Ad revenue rose slightly in ’92, to $4.3 billion, while ad pages stayed flat, according to Leading National Advertisers. For the first quarter of ’93, revenue jumped 8.7% over last year, but actual ad pages were down 1.8%. ‘They’re chasing their tails,’ warns media consultant Jack Edmonston. ‘They raise their rates, pages go down, so they raise their rates again.’
As a result, finding alternate streams of revenue has become a publisher’s mantra. ‘There’s a trend with our customers asking us to provide far greater services for them,’ says Chuck Moodhe, general manager of Cahners Publishing’s Chicago division. ‘It could be direct mail, custom publishing, research or data basing.’
Cahners has created a division that helps customers tap into its extensive data base of more than 5 million trade magazine readers and 10 million consumer magazine readers. ‘We’re trying to be less reliant on space advertising,’ says Frank Sibley, head of the new integrated marketing services division. ‘We’re asking our customers to let us solve their total marketing needs and not just their advertising needs.’
More and more, publishers are looking to new technologies, such as on-line services, to supplement advertising. At Penton, CD-ROMs are used to archive information and research. At Ziff-Davis, articles from 170 computers mags – including its competition – are available to buyers in a monthly CD-ROM format.
List renting continues to be a hot business. At Intertec Publishing, which publishes Telephony, Cellular Business and Fleet Owner, list and data-base services have continued to grow. ‘We’re getting more sophisticated with our data base and being able to better service our customers with it,’ says John Torrey, director of publication services.
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)