The Custom Publishing Council (note: Hammock is a founding member) has just conducted a survey called, “Characteristics Study: A Look at the Volume and Type of Custom Publications in America” that indicates custom publishing is thriving. According to the survey, in 2007 a record number of marketers used custom publishing solutions to promote their products and brands – with impressive results. Other industry reports show that spending on alternative media jumped 22%, with more advertisers seeking out new channels. Custom publishing can be expected to grow even more in 2008 with the increase in Internet distribution of content and creative new media solutions.
[After the jump, view statistics and other highlights from the Custom Publications in America survey.]
Highlights from the Survey
Unique titles: The number of unique custom titles being published in America reached an all-time high this year of 143,173 titles. This is a 14.5% increase from last year and a 48.0% increase since the survey was first conducted in 1999. The nine-year trend of custom titles being produced per company is up 21.1% from 1.9 to 2.3.
More revenue allocated: Overall money spent on custom publishing hit $55.0 billion this year, a 150.1% increase since the survey was first launched in 1999. Excluding costs related to personnel assigned to custom publishing projects, Corporate America spent $34.1 billion on the production and distribution of custom publications. Spending on production and distribution, which might reflect Corporate America’s “budget” for custom publications has increased 150.1% from $12.9 million in 2000 to $34.1 million.
Frequency: The average annual frequency of custom publications increased from 8.4 to 9.0 times per year. Although frequency remains lower than its 2003 peak, frequency is still 42.9% higher today than it was in 1999 at 9.0x versus 6.3x.
Circulation and pages increase: Total circulation and total pages actually went up because of the increase in frequency and the increase in the number of companies in the U.S., but average circulation and average pages went down, possibly due to in part to increasing paper costs and postage rates.
Pages per issue: The average pages per issue for custom publications dropped from 24.9 to 22.2. Since 1999 pages per issue have grown 60.9% from 13.8 pages to 22.2 pages.
Circulation per issue: The average circulation per issue for custom publications decreased this year for the second year in a row from 35,221 to 30,044.
Annual circulation per title: The average circulation per title per year, which combines average frequency per title with average circulation per issue, has decreased to 270,396 copies. Since the onset of the research, annual circulation per title has increase 119.0% from 123,448 copies to 295,856 copies.
Primary audience: For the fifth year running, titles targeting external audiences exceeded those targeting internal audiences (64% versus 36%). External audiences comprise businesses (BtoB) and consumers (BtoC). Of those custom publications targeting external audiences, a slight majority of them are BtoB versus BtoC, and that has stayed fairly constant in each of the five years in which this characteristic has been measured.
Publication format: Custom publishers seem to have rediscovered the newsletter format this year, possibly due to the recent postal rate hike. For the first time since 2004, newsletters have overtaken magazines as the preferred publication format in custom publishing (40% versus 35). The use of online publications has increased slightly from 17% to 18% however it has remained fairly consistent since 2000.
Distribution methods: For the first time this year, the study adds the Internet to the choice of distribution methods. A reported 17% of publications were reported as being distributed. The USPS continues to be the preferred distribution channel for custom publications with 61% of titles using the postal service.
More spent on production and distribution: The amount spent on the production and distribution of custom publications (as reported in the Communications Industry Forecast by Veronis Suhler Stevenson) also reached its second highest amount at $34.1 billion.
Use of four-color: The use of all four color decreased slightly this year with 61% of companies using all four color and 79% of companies using either some or all four color, compared to 39% and 54%, respectively, in 1999.
Average age of title: This year the average age continues to hover around 8 years with 45% of titles older than 11 years. This suggests that the true age of the average custom publication is well beyond the average 7.7 years.
Presence of advertising: For the second year in a row, the presence of paid advertising in custom publications slipped backward. Still, 23% of custom publications carry some paid advertising. Also for the second year in a row, custom publications carrying no advertisements of any type has increased with 68% of companies reporting no ads in their publications.