Survey Finds Custom Publishing Industry Topping $1 Billion In Revenues

Posted on September 24, 1999

A new survey on custom publishing shows $1 billion in client revenues, and nearly $700 million from third-party advertisers. The survey, conducted by Wilkofsky Gruen Associates, indicates that more than half of custom publishers have entered the industry since 1990 and nearly a quarter have been in it only since 1995 suggesting a rapid growth industry. The wide-ranging survey was commissioned by the Custom Publishing Council (CPC), a committee of the Magazine Publishers of America (MPA).

"Despite the fact that custom publishing has been around for a while, the industry is propelled by new blood," said David Wilkofsky, who heads the research firm of media consultants and economists.

The study found that magazines are, by far, the biggest recipients of both client revenues ($655 million) and third-party advertising ($640 million). Newsletters ($110 m), brochures ($95 m) and videos ($48 m) are the next three custom published products that are included in the $1 billion revenue total, based on revenue expenditures.

"As more and more marketers recognize the value of custom publishing, this industry will continue experiencing explosive growth," noted Simon Kelly, President, Fluent Communications, and co-chair, CPC. "The growth of custom publishing mirrors the industry's recognition and acceptance of one-to-one relationship marketing, which was formulated in the early 1990s to increase brand loyalty and is conventional wisdom today."

Ellen Romanow, Senior Vice President/General Manager of custom publishing for CIO Magazine, and co-chair, CPC, sites several factors that have led to the tremendous growth that has brought $1 billion in revenues. "More sophisticated database management, anticipated consumer expectations, and the success of one-to-one marketing have propelled marketers into this field," noted Romanow.

The Wilkofsky Gruen survey found that no large companies dominate the custom publishing market. Some companies generate annual revenues of more than $10 million, but the industry average is about $5 million. The custom publishing industry is comprised of three distinct types of companies: 1) independent custom publishers engaged solely in custom publishing magazines for clients; 2) independent publishers that produce both traditional magazines as well as custom publications (the smallest classification of custom publishers); and 3) larger companies that are primarily engaged in traditional magazine publishing but also produce custom publications.

The Custom Publishing Council is a committee of the Magazine Publishers of America with over 30 members from both traditional and independent companies. Founded in 1998, the CPC serves as a focal point for the industry, disseminating industry information through print materials and its website The Magazine Publishers of America is the industry association for the consumer magazine business. Established in 1919, the MPA represents more than 220 domestic publishing companies with approximately 1,200 titles. Staffed by magazine industry specialists, the MPA is headquartered in New York City, with an office of government affairs based in Washington, D.C.