This chart doesn’t fit into the current narrative

Friday Afternoon Pondering: Minonline.com is the source of the chart above that ranks the top performing publications (as measured by the number of pages of advertising) during the past quarter in the business-to-business vertical of marketing. … I can guess the theories: (A) Media companies are advertising aggressively because they have so much unsold inventory, (B) media companies are launching new properties and thus are buying more ads to promote them, (C) media companies are aggressively pushing the message that advertising in a recession is the mark of a savvy marketer, (D) none of the above, (E) all of the above.



Friday Afternoon Pondering: Minonline.com is the source of the chart above that ranks the top performing publications (as measured by the number of pages of advertising) during the past quarter in the business-to-business vertical of marketing. Minonline.com distributed a link to the chart as a teaser for its subscription-based service in which on Monday, I presume, the chart will be interpreted. At the link above, it merely states: “Crain’s Advertising Age shows its strength as the #1 publication on top of the advertising pages list for the 1st quarter. A less likely occupant is ST Media Group’s Signs of the Times with a first-quarter 2008, year-on-year 10% increase in ad pages and a nearly 40% increase for March 2008.”

Note: This is not the Signs of the Times magazine referred to, rather this publication about the sign industry is.

I’m not sure I trust the B2B media pundits to interpret this chart, however. I think it is a job for the guys at the Freakonomics Blog. How can advertising for advertising be so dramatically up in a quarter when advertising is supposed to be down — especially advertising in, of all media,B2B print publications.

I can guess the theories: (A) Media companies are advertising aggressively because they have so much unsold inventory, (B) media companies are launching new properties and thus are buying more ads to promote them, (C) media companies are aggressively pushing the message that advertising in a recession is the mark of a savvy marketer, (D) none of the above, (E) all of the above.

I’m guessing (doing anything else would require actual research and thought on my part) D & E are both correct answers. But again, I think it will take a skeptical economist to figure this out, not some analyst focusing on a narrow band of data related to the number of advertising pages sold.

  • Rex

    Advertising is a delusional industry. Chief among the delusionaries are the advertisers themselves. They drink the koolaid everyday. I forgive them that because that is what they get paid to do and they have to drink the stuff for a life time of work. So would they advertise to themselves in times of woe? Yes. Of course they would and do. This is the advertising world not reality. And I might also point out that the MIN chart is about ad pages not ad revenue. The bottom line is who got paid and how much? Was there a profit in those pages? How much? It’s all smoke and mirrors, and who better to utilize those tricks than the advertising agencies.
    BoSacks
    -30-

  • That was my first thought. Free ads. Trade ads. Bonus ads. Not sold ads.

  • In the early days of this blog, I used to try to educate people on the difference in “revenue” and “ad pages.” As Bo suggests, and I agree, the only thing that *really* matters is something that can be deposited in a bank. However, in this case, the statistic I am isolating on does not compare “revenue” vs. “ad pages,” it compares ad pages last year vs. ad pages this year. The number of ad pages last year probably had similar “house, free and bonus” ads as the ad pages of this year, so in this chart the issue of whether revenues are up or down is not being questioned (at least by me). Also, I will say this based on my personal knowledge of the ownership and management of Advertising Age’s parent company, if their ad pages are up 57%, it’s not due to any smoke and mirrors.

    Also, by and large, the advertising in Advertising Age is not advertising that is promoting Ad Agencies, but is advertising that promotes ad-supported media. Therefore, I’m a big confused by the whole smoke and mirrors discussion.