One of my favorite people in the industry is straight-shooter Jack Semler, President of the Readex Corporation. Readex is best known for ad readership studies (like Starch and Harvey) although they also do a healthy business in more general subscriber studies and other types of research. In any case, WE publishers are their customers. If WE are really worried about business next year, we will do fewer paid outside studies and Readex’s forward business outlook for 2008 should be down.
Well, here’s what Jack said; "As for our indicators, we are kicking butt right now. The ad effectiveness study count will be up and the number of proposals we are writing for custom studies is above average. IF all holds up and doesn’t crash under the ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’ weight of the media reporting ‘Recession,’ then we will be running at an 18%-20% increase over 2007."
Gosh, I hope Jack is right and that this IS a leading indicator for all of us. The tea leaves for my business are spread before me and, well, it kinda depends how you arrange them! Forward contracts were flat, but followed a 35% increase the year before. Business at the end of December – a flurry of activity in 2006, was this year, like Old Marley, "dead as a door-nail." But it has picked up noticeably in January as marketers realize that the sky has not quite fallen. Yet, anyway.
So call Jack Semler a positive leading indicator. For me it’s still cautious optimism. With heavy emphasis on the cautious.