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Thursday, February 14, 2008

PPA research proves all is well in business media land (Sic)

I still haven't seen the PG article but I guess its referring to the PPA sponsored research reported here which claims that the UK business media sector is worth £23b in 2006. The research claims that this is an increase from £15.6b two years earlier - ergo all is well and booming.

Now call me an old cynic but I am not so sure about this. In 2006 the total turnover of the listed business media companies in the UK was £13.3b. I don't have the numbers for 2004, but lets imagine that the rate of growth as in 2004-2006, (as reported in the PPA survey), continues in 2007 and on into 2008. Business media is booming as they say at the PPA.
Based on this assumption what would you think the forecast for 2008 revenue for UK listed business media companies is? If we believe the PPA research and my hypothesis it should be around £20b. What do you think it actually is? I went and looked up the analysts forecasts and the 2008 forecast is - wait for it - £14.4b. Still a healthy annual rate of growth of 4% but rather less bullish than this survey would have you believe.

Why should this "discrepancy" exist? Three theories. First - the survey is sponsored by the media most likely to benefit from saying that all is well in the world and it is therfore optimistic. Second - the methodology of the survey is completly flawed - Third - the survey is broadly accurate but the spend is not going to the traditional business media companies but to somewhere else. Where is the somewhere else? Digital marketing services? Google ads?

Who knows for sure but what we can know is that this research is as illuminating as a spent match in the slough of despond. Or even Slough. We need to do better than this to understand what is really going on in business media. Self serving, unbelievable research will make no difference to business media customers and lulls media owners into a false sense of security.

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At 12:28 pm, Anonymous Smith said...

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