Custom publishing in the business-to-business space is a stealth moneymaker with revenues growing at about 20 percent annually, which on-par with the rate of growth in online revenues, said American Business Media CEO Gordon Hughes, speaking Wednesday before an ABM-sponsored panel discussion on "The Identity Game: Custom Media Builds Brands." "Custom publishing is now a $7 billion industry in the business-to-business space," said Hughes. "That’s a real business."

Panelists, including representatives from traditional, online and custom publishers, took turns offering case studies of the growth opportunities available in custom publishing and content marketing.

Like traditional media, custom publishing is becoming more diverse and taking many forms from print magazines and newsletters to Web sites and podcasts, said Joe Pulizzi, chairman of ABM’s custom publishing committee and group director for Penton Media’s custom media division. "Traditional content marketing isn’t going away," he said. "But, just like traditional media is under pressure from flat print revenues and spending more on digital media, (custom publishers) are starting to spend more money on digital media."

Quoting a survey from Veronis Suhler Stevenson, Pulizzi said custom publishing on both the consumer and b-to-b sides grew 29 percent in 2005 and that custom publishing is now the eighth-largest media sector. The VSS study also found that:


  • 80 percent of respondents say they’d rather see marketing information in a collection of articles, rather than in an adverstisement.
  • 70 percent said custom publications make them feel closer to a company.
  • 40 percent say they are more likely to buy a product from a company that provides custom marketing information.

Michael Hurley, vice president of custom publishing for Hanley Wood, said custom marketing campaigns often work best when the company’s brand is not overtly used. He said using high-quality edit from third party sources often adds credibility to custom publishing campaigns.

Using a case study on a campaign produced for Minneapolis-based, business, accounting and tax firm, RSM McGladry, Hurley said Hanley Wood target C-level executives at mid-size companies with print magazines and newsletters, an interactive Web site, e-newsletters, white papers, talking points and other marketing materials.