New Survey Shows Custom Content Market Spend at $40.2 Billion

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By: Press Release | Custom Content Council

New York, NY (March 22,, 2012) – While print still captures the majority of money spent on custom media – $23.6 billion – the combination of electronic, video, and other forms reached an all-time high spend of $16.6 billion in 2011, with 52% of marketers saying they now use branded video.  Eighty-seven percent of companies use print to convey content, followed closely by web sites at 82%.  Survey trends indicate that print will relinquish its dominant role in the next few years, though it will continue to be a sizeable component in overall spend well into the future.

The “Characteristics Study: A Look at the Volume and Type of Content Marketing in America for 2012,” the 12th annual industry study by the Custom Content Council and ContentWise, compares usage of content marketing among all different formats from 2009-2011 including print, web, email, video, virtual events, white papers, podcasts and e-Zines.  While print declined from 91% to 83% in three years, video rose from 37% to 52% and email went from 66% to 71%.

For the ninth year in a row, titles targeting external audiences exceeded those targeting internal audiences at a 73% vs. 27% ratio, with the USPS confirmed as the preferred distribution method (75%). 

Other key findings of the Characteristics study include:

  • Use of color:  The use of four color printing in custom publications rose again, with 89% using all or some four color.
  • Declines:  The number of unique titles per company dropped to 1.4 from 1.7, and the average circulation per issue dropped to 47,500 from 52,000; though that is the third highest level of average circulation since the survey was first conducted in 1999.  The number of unique printed custom publication titles decreased sharply from 110,000 to 88,500.
  • Presence of ads:  37% of custom publications carry advertisements, with 17% in-house ads and 20% paid ads, representing a 6% increase of in-house ads. 
  • Frequency:  The average annual frequency rose slightly to 6.5 times per year.
  • Average Age Per Title:  The average age of the title declined slightly from 9 to 8.6, however the overall trend line in this area remains strong.
  • Other forms of media:  Across all media channels, marketers said they will do more, with video the most voracious; 54% or marketers are expected to use more video.
  • Web sites:  The average marketer made web site updates 145 times with articles, posts and other content, representing a slight increase from 2011.
  • Market spend:  While print slightly declined from $24 to $23.6 billion, other forms, which include video, events and white papers, grew 44% in 2011 from $3.6 billion to $5.2 billion.  Of the overall spend, $26 billion was allocated to production, with the remainder relegated to distribution and personnel.
  • Custom captures 26%:  Of the average overall marketing, advertising and communications budget, 26% of the funds were dedicated to custom marketing.  This is a dip from the 29% last year, but significant nonetheless.

“All of these metrics show a solid commitment to custom, no matter what the form of distribution.  Funds that were previously earmarked for print are being shifted to video and web content, though print remains a dominant part of the overall spend,” said Lori Rosen, Executive Director, Custom Content Council.  “There is no doubt that content is king; there are now many different queens, knights, duchesses and dukes in the castle.”

Full research findings are available on the members-only section of the Custom Content Council website at


The research was conducted via an emailed survey targeting a random sample of companies across all industries.  Eight thousand survey invitations were emailed and approximately 197 were completed and returned, producing a +/-6% degree of accuracy at a 90% confidence level.  Among the responding companies were: Boston Scientific, Gartner, Healthnet, Michelin, Sabre Holdings, Sirius XM, State Farm Insurance and University of Phoenix.

About the Custom Content Council

The Custom Content Council (CCC) is the leading professional organization representing custom publishers in North America and is focused on promoting the growth and vitality of this dynamic marketing discipline. We define custom publishing as marrying the marketing ambitions of a company with the information needs of its target audience. This occurs through the delivery of editorial content – via print, Internet, and other media – so intrinsically valuable that it moves the recipient’s behavior in a desired direction. Marketers across the country, the media and other interested constituencies rely on the Custom Content Council as the authoritative source of industry news, data and trends, information on the effectiveness of custom publishing, and referrals to the top custom publishers in North America.

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