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Recent Commentary & Analysis from Dr. Joe Webb

Dr. Joe Webb is one of the graphic arts industry's best-known consultants, forecasters, and commentators. He is the director of WhatTheyThink.com's Economics and Research Center.

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Displaying 1-24 of 737 articles

Printing Industry Shipments and Profits

Published April 18, 2014

For the year, profits were $4.34 billion. On an inflation-adjusted basis, that was the highest level of industry profits since 2007. This is despite there being $28 billion less printing shipments, 8,000 fewer printing establishments, and 73,000 fewer employees. It was the best profits per establishment ($173,000) since 2000.

 

Employment-Population Ratio Still Below Pre-Recession Levels

Published April 10, 2014

One of the measures of the health of the labor market is the comparison of the total population to civilian employment. This measure has yet to approach levels achieved prior to the recession. This measure is important because it follows the growth in population. The number of workers is now nearly what it was at the start of the recession, but population has grown about 6% since that time. In rough terms, this means that the economy is short about 5.6 million jobs.

 

Employment Changes in the Printing and Content Creation Industries

Published April 7, 2014

 

Ad Agency Revenues On Steady Rise Higher

Published March 16, 2014

Since the second quarter of 2007, the first quarter for which we can create four-quarter inflation-adjusted moving totals, ad agency revenues are up more than 13%. Publishing industries have note fared well at all.

 

Premium Content US Commercial Printing Industry Demographics, 2011 to 2018

Published March 6, 2014

In recent weeks, readers have asked for industry demographics and some prognostication about them. The data tables are below. But first, some information about the data and where they come from. Get a strong coffee.

 

Does Being a “Marketing Services Provider” Make a Difference? In 2013 it Did, but Not for Everyone

Published February 26, 2014

Many printers have started promoting themselves as “marketing service providers” (MSPs), almost to the point that the terms “printer” and MSP are synonymous.

 

Advertising Agency Employment Surpasses Commercial Printing, Reflecting the Shift from Traditional Media

Published February 7, 2014

The major news in the data update is that employment in advertising agencies surpassed that of the printing industry in July 2013. For 2013, printing employment was down by -12,600 (-2.8%). The biggest change was in employees outside of production who were -8,400 of that decline (-5.7%). Graphic design employment was down slightly for the year, but these data do not include freelancers, which are an essential part of that business. Inside the advertising agency employment data are public relations employees, the main area of employment growth in this sector.

 

2013 US Commercial Printing Shipments Reach $77.6 Billion

Published February 4, 2014

The Department of Commerce released December 2013 and revised November data. December shipments were $6.271B (-3.7% vs. Dec. 2012). On a current dollar basis, the total for the year was $77.6B, -3.8%. After adjusting for inflation using the Consumer Price Index, shipments were down -5.1%. The chart below shows current dollar and inflation-adjusted shipments starting with 2007

 

Inflation-adjusted US Printing and Print Services Shipments

Published February 4, 2014

 

Inflation-adjusted Annualized US Publishing & Advertising Agency Revenues

Published January 14, 2014

This chart shows the inflation-adjusted revenue trends for selected content-creation businesses. Note how advertising revenues have increased despite the declines in the revenues to publishers. Agencies have shifted much of their efforts to developing “earned media” (a/k/a search engines, social media, e-marketing and numerous other digital formats), and the production of it.

 

Premium Content Business Development: Riding the New Sales Cycle

Published December 10, 2012

Last time, Dr. Joe explained why business development is rising as a critical function in print organizations. The nature of selling is changing just as the nature of print in the communications mix is changing. And no, cold-calling has nothing to do with Winter temperatures.

 

Premium Content Business Development Is Not a Sales Lead Qualification Process

Published November 26, 2012

In Part One of this two-part column, Dr. Joe explains how the changing dynamics in the printing industry are dynamically changing the sales process. It used to be that a sales call didn't need to start with explaining print-everyone already knew what it was, and the needed it. Not so much today…successful businesses are increasingly turning to business development practices. This is much more than sales lead generation and that will be the topic of Part Two.

 

Premium Content The Election: Can Everyone Finally Stop Whining About "Uncertainty"?

Published November 12, 2012

There was no uncertainty about the election results, but there was plenty of whining about "uncertainty" for months and months prior to the election. Now that the election is over, is there really any less "uncertainty"? Why do executives get the big bucks? To make decisions when there's uncertainty, real uncertainty. Dr. Joe explains what's uncertain and what's not... at least we think he does. Guess you'll have to read it to be sure.

 

Premium Content Next Wave: Get Ready

Published October 22, 2012

You know you should worry when Dr. Joe uses phrases like "simultaneous critical mass." Then we find out that he thinks that data talks to him. His frugal ways are evident as he delights in the prospect of free broadband. Then there are boats and planes, too. It might be worth reading to make sure the next wave of innovation to hit the market is not one that means "goodbye" for your business.

 

Premium Content Media and Elections

Published October 15, 2012

Dr. Joe is focused on denial but not in a myopic way. That may make sense once you dig into the column. Or like a lot of his columns, it may drive you to muttering all day. CNN claims that the USPS is being bailed out by election spending. That is, if you believe a decrease is an increase. And much more…

 

Premium Content Fear and the Fed?

Published September 17, 2012

The Fed took a look at the economy last week and panicked. In printing industry terms, they increased their run lengths and their page counts, and there's more money printing on the way. It's not much, just $1.4 trillion. What's a few billion dollars amongst friends?

 

Premium Content More Economic Sameness

Published September 10, 2012

Dr. Joe explains last Friday's employment report, takes a look at employment in our industry, and explains why ad agency revenues are going up when everything else seems to be going down. Speaking of down, sit down before you read his comments about the latest recovery indicators. Yes, Dr. Doom seems to have infiltrated this column, again.

 

Premium Content Risk and “Uncertainty” are Not the Same

Published August 20, 2012

Don't be uncertain about the risks of reading Dr. Joe's column about risk and uncertainty. It's not often he gets to use the word “actuarial” in a column about printing. Everyone thinks they know what ROI means, but just one little letter makes a big difference.

 

Premium Content Interpreting Media Use Headlines

Published August 13, 2012

Dr. Joe's glad he didn't buy Facebook stock, and explains why the company's stock price matters little to media decision-makers. And then there's the magazine circulation thing. Why is everyone so surprised that it's down? Yet again he rails about inflation, but at least he has some fresh new inflation multipliers to annoy company controllers and CFOs

 

Premium Content Relevance and Industry Capacity

Published July 16, 2012

Here Dr. Joe goes again, on another capacity rant. It's about two years since his last one, so we guess we should cut him some slack. This time he takes a slightly different look, or at least he says he did. You decide.

 

Premium Content Recovery Indicators Take an Interesting Wrong Turn

Published July 9, 2012

The recovery continues to limp along, and then the Commerce Department says that May printing shipments were just incredibly good. Sure, they tease us a few weeks ago by yanking $600 million in shipments from the first quarter in their annual revision, and now it looks like someone may have snuck them back into May when they thought no one was looking. Dr. Joe explains it all, including a great way to get back to sleep when insomnia hits.

 

Toshiba's No-Print Day is Awkward and Scandalous, But Don’t Let It Divert You from Bigger Trends

Published June 18, 2012

The industry's hackles have been raised by Toshiba's No-Print Day, and it's ironic that the company picks a date with some historical importance for print to hold the event. Toshiba's thinking needs to be confronted, but engagement with their audiences is a more important action for our associations and our businesses.

 

Premium Content An Economic Update You Won't See in the Press

Published June 11, 2012

Economic conditions are being twisted and distorted by the long-held biases of the business press. The charged political climate of an election year fans passions that magnify momentary small and nearly meaningless changes in economic data into cataclysms or triumphs. You have to step back to see what's really happening, or not happening. Small businesses can't choose economic conditions, but they can choose their means of navigation.

 

Premium Content Running Toward Confusion is Good Advice

Published May 21, 2012

Dr. Joe is frequently asked questions at conferences, webinars, and by e-mail from around the world that sometimes turn into columns. This week, as a result of some of those questions, he explains why confusion is good, misconceptions start with ourselves, not others; how digital natives affect the workforce; and other matters. And then, there are those seemingly innocent news items that he puts into a different context. That Dr. Joe... he makes your head hurt sometimes.

 

Premium Content The “Half of All Workers Don't Pay Taxes” Mantra is Starting to Get Taxing

Published May 14, 2012

You've heard it many times from many quarters: “Half of all workers don't pay taxes.” Dr. Joe has gotten tired of hearing this and offers a different perspective. He explores who actually pays taxes, why what you commonly hear about taxes is always out of context, and how the benefits of tax avoidance are immediate, predictable, and risk-free. That's exactly what the economy does not need. Everyone will find something to dislike in this column.

 

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