Tuesday, May 01, 2007

B-to-B Media Being Transformed Into An Event Marketing Biz

B-to-B Media Being Transformed Into An Event Marketing Biz
by Joe Mandese, Tuesday, May 1, 2007 8:00 AM ET

BUSINESS-TO-BUSINESS AD PAGES ARE CONTINUING to decline in the U.S. business press, but revenues are rising due to the expansion of new business streams including digital media sales, and so-called "face-to-face" media (ie. events, conferences and trade shows). Ad pages dropped 2.8% in February vs. February 2006, according to estimates released Monday by American Business Media. The decline was driven by sharp drops in ad page demand in the automotive, aviation, business/advertising/marketing, and computer, though restaurants and travel were up sharply for the month., according to the estimates compiled by the Business Information Network.
Interestingly, the surge in ad pages in the travel/business conventions & meetings category (+12.9%) correlates with skyrocketing B-to-B event revenues also being reported by the ABM.

"Business-to-business media is still on an upswing overall due to other performers, particularly face-to-face, growing at 10% to $11.3 billion and exceeding magazine revenues," the trade association said.

ABM President-CEO Gordon Hughes said the data signals an "era of transformation" for the B-to-B media industry, noting that traditional print revenues are "being out-billed by events.

"This again does not mean that print is going away; it just means now more than ever we must look to our entire brandscape and focus on those platforms that are changing the balance in the overall $31 billion pie," he stated.

Joe Mandese is Editor of MediaPost.

From Bad To Worse: Newspapers' Circ Declines

From Bad To Worse: Newspapers' Circ Declines
by Erik Sass, Tuesday, May 1, 2007 8:00 AM ET

AMERICA'S FLAGSHIP NEWSPAPERS ARE STILL afloat, but their crews may want to don swimsuits soon. The Audit Bureau of Circulations posted numbers Monday showing that in the six months ending March 2007, total daily circulation fell 2.1% to 44,961,066. Sunday circ fell 3.1% to 48,102,437, compared to the same period last year.

The ABC FAS-FAX numbers follow a litany of bad industry news over the last few weeks, including weak first-quarter earnings from leading newspaper companies, and a decline in the housing market, with ominous implications for newspaper classifieds.

This marks the 17th straight year of decline for both weekday and Sunday circs; this is an industry in distress. Indeed, the latest ABC FAS-FAX numbers look almost identical to previous figures, released biannually in what has become a grim drumbeat of contraction. In the September 2006 report, daily circ fell 2.8% as Sunday circ dropped 3.4%; in March 2006 they fell 2.5% and 3.1%, respectively; September 2005, 2.6% and 3.1%; and March 2005, 1.9% and 2.5%.

As in previous years, big metro dailies took some of the biggest hits, with The New York Times down 1.9%, the Los Angeles Times down 4.2% to 815,723, The Washington Post down 3.5% to 699,130, Chicago Tribune down 2.1% to 566,827, Houston Chronicle down 2% to 504,114, Dallas Morning News down 14.3% to 411,919, the San Francisco Chronicle down 2.9%, Long Island's Newsday down 6.9% to 398,231, and The Boston Globe down 3.7% to 382,503.

These figures actually contain (relatively) good news for some of the big titles, as their percentage rate of decline appears to be slowing. In the September 2006 ABC report, the New York Times' daily circ was down 3.5%, Los Angeles Times 8%, San Francisco Chronicle 5.3% and The Boston Globe 6.7%. On the other hand, losses accelerated slightly at the Chicago Tribune and The Washington Post, increasing by about half a percentage point.

In this gloomy environment, publications that hold their own are success stories: USA Today's circ is up 0.5% and The Wall Street Journal grew 0.6%. The biggest standouts were New York City's two daily tabloids, as the New York Daily News grew 1.4% to 718,174, and the New York Post jumped a remarkable 7.6% to 724,748.

In recent weeks, the nation's biggest newspaper companies have posted weak first-quarter results, citing revenue declines due to Internet competition. In the first quarter of 2007, the New York Times Company saw print ad revenue decline 3.4%, compared to the same period last year, as total profit fell 9.9% to $54.5 million. At the Tribune Company, overall operating revenues slipped 4% to $1.2 billion and operating profit was down 16% to $181 million. Gannett saw total revenues decline slightly from $1.88 billion in 2006 to $1.87 billion in 2007, as net income fell from $235.3 million in first quarter 2006 to $210.6 million in 2007, a roughly 10.5% drop.

It's cute, green -- and may change world

It's cute, green -- and may change world
By Carolyn Y. Johnson, Globe Staff | April 27, 2007

CAMBRIDGE -- With its cute bunny ears, its whimsical pull-string charger, and its big plastic handle, the lime-green XO laptop doesn't look like a technology that will change education and computing worldwide.

But at a demonstration in the Cambridge offices of non profit One Laptop Per Child yesterday, founder Nicholas Negroponte said that was exactly what would happen as the project moves from dream to reality this September.

"We talk about the mission, versus the market," Negroponte said.

The so-called $100 laptop -- which today costs $175 -- is a low-power, lightweight computer that can withstand a torrential rainstorm, work in bright sunlight, and be powered by kids who are willing to wind cranks or yank cords to keep it running.

Negroponte said he hopes ultimately to put his computer in the hands of 1 billion children between ages 6 and 16 in developing countries, with production ramping up to 400,000 units per month by the end of this year, for a total of 3 million in the first production wave . His partners, companies like chip maker Advanced Micro Devices , software maker Red Hat , and display manufacturer Chi Mei Group , echoed his high-minded wish to change the world through technology.

But tooling around on the laptop is also fun.

The green-and-white laptop has a small, high-resolution screen that swivels to turn into a tablet. A sliding button turns the backlight out, allowing users to save energy or take the laptop outside and use it in bright sunlight.

On either side are 2-inch-long plastic rabbit ears that flip up to increase its wireless range. They look rather fragile but have been drop-tested successfully from up to 5 feet, its makers said.

The laptop features a keyboard so tiny it seems suited only for children's hands, with game controls on either side of the screen that turn it into a big Gameboy.

Negroponte said that the computer can run Windows, but it s current operating system is a simple, open-source menu with big friendly icons stripped across the bottom of the screen. And while its creators envision the laptop used as an educational tool for collaboration, children will also be able to play a Tetris-like game called BlockParty or compose a sonata using a virtual orchestra consisting of everything from a baby's coo to a guinea pig's squeak.

Hundreds of the laptops are already being tested by children in seven launch countries including Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Nigeria, Libya, Pakistan, and Thailand. But starting in September, the makers plan to ramp up production, releasing 400,000 laptops per month.

The entire contraption folds up into a miniature plastic white briefcase that its makers said would withstand a heavy rainstorm. During testing, they dunked the laptop in a bucket of water for 10 minutes, with no effect on its function.

For power, the laptop can plug into an electrical outlet, or users can yank on its pull charger, crank a handle, or sit in bright sunlight with a flexible solar panel.

The string pull charge, on display yesterday, means about six minutes of pulling for an hour to use the device in its low-power e-book mode, with no backlight.

In contrast to today's computers, which are mainly about connecting to the Internet and bringing stuff down, this computer is made to send stuff up, allowing the user-generated revolution to hit the developing world.

"How big is the horizon for the kids in some of these villages?" said Josh Bernoff, analyst at Forrester Research. "Now they will have a way to communicate with the rest of the world."

Carolyn Y. Johnson can be reached at cjohnson@globe.com.