UBM publish research results for construction industry marketers

UBM (United Business Media) recently released the results of an independent research study amongst architecture, construction and commercial property professionals about mainstream construction industry publications. The data gathered provides marketers with valuable information about the current market situation to guide their future campaign development decisions.

The study showed a gradual decrease in industry employees, falling from 100,534 people in 2005 to 80,513 people in 2010. The greatest difference was in the number of house-builders/contractors which fell dramatically. The number was nearly halved, demonstrating the impact of the recession which forced many companies to decrease employee numbers. Surprisingly, there is a significant increase in the number of architects which were the only group not to decrease in number.

The readership component of the study, obtained a sample size of 3,457 people and the results were weighted to ensure industry representativeness. The publications researched are illustrated in the diagram below.


Initially all building jobs were grouped together to gain an overview of the average issue readership for the whole construction and architecture industry. The graph below demonstrates the percentage of the sample who read each magazine:


Average issue readership findings

Average issue readership is defined as those who have read a publication in the last week (for weekly issues) or month (for monthly issues). Amongst the architects and technologists, Building Design was the most widely read publication. However, in the architecture sector the RIBA Journal (61%) and Architecture Today (51%) were not far behind. 33% of Technologists surveyed read Building Products Magazine on a monthly basis.

Amongst the housing associations and the quantity surveyors, Building publication has the highest readership by a large amount (45%) followed by Housebuilder (13%), this could be a result of Building and Building Design using their own readership database for the survey.

Regular readership findings

This group is defined as reading 3 to 4 issues of a magazine in a month (for weekly titles) OR reading 5 to 6 issues in the past 6 months for (monthly titles). These figures are important for establishing readership loyalty and commitment to a publication. The graph below shows the results:


Building is the overall market leading publication according to this research which could be slightly one sided as the database could be dominated by Building and Building Design readers.

An interesting find according the research was that Quantity Surveyors only regularly read 5 out of the 11 titles provided. Building (51%), CN (4%), Construction Manager (6%), Building Products (1%) followed by Architects Journal (1%).

When the readership was sorted according to decision makers in the building job sectors, it showed that 40% of Building readers were involved in purchasing decisions. For the other publications the regular readership consists of a mix of decision makers, with none of them being particularly influential over another.

Online Behaviour

The final part the research looked at the way the industry professionals surveyed used the internet, the regularity of usage and whether they preferred online or print versions of each publication. This part of the research concentrated on building.co.uk, bdonline.co.uk, cnplus.co.uk and finally architectsjournal.co.uk, each publications content is currently behind paywalls.

When asked how they would like to receive various types of content, the building sectors mainly preferred content via the internet. They did not favour print on its own unless it was supported by the internet which demonstrates the need to supply readers with quick and up to date information. It also depended on the type of content and the internet was the preferable choice for ‘news before other sources’ whilst a combination of internet and print was ideal for ‘practical value’.


These results illustrate that print alone is not sufficient for the building sector and internet is the medium that should be the main focus for targeting professionals with content. However, print should not be completely abandoned, but instead combined with online maximum impact and reach.

By a small margin, the architects seemed to prefer the combination of print and online content especially for ‘practical value’ and to ‘stimulate ideas’. Similar to the building sector, internet was preferred for ‘news before other sources’ even though the margin was slightly less (42% compared to 46%). Architects and the building sectors also agreed that print would be suitable on its own for ‘stimulating ideas’, with the architects preferring it by a larger margin.

When asked about last visit to the websites it is interesting to note 43% of those surveyed visited bdonline.co.uk in the last week and 35% visiting within the last month. This is useful data for marketers when it comes to keeping digital advertising campaigns fresh and informative. Readers of bdonline.co.uk will soon tune off to a 6 month digital advertising campaign as 43% of readers will be exposed to the advertisement on a weekly basis, however, the ad will be exposed to the 35% of monthly visitors on just the six occasions.



On the whole this independent research delivers useful insights into the industry, helping marketers in the creation of placement ads and implementing strategic campaigns. The readership statistics are valuable when deciding which publications to choose and why readers choose to read them. The data relating to online behaviour and usage is particularly useful for marketers when it comes to campaign longevity and freshness. Although the impartiality of the sample has to be questioned, the data provided can be used to make judgments and decisions on how long should a campaign last? Which publication to use? How can the marketer make best use of online and offline and target the right audience with the right message on a frequent basis?

Keep checking the UBM website as more results and detailed information from the research will be published shortly.

About Stuart Dinnie

Stuart has worked in the world of digital marketing for over 15 years. With his measured and planned approach, he has delivered robust digital strategies for construction companies to achieve real business growth. He now heads up the team at Pauley Creative as Managing Director and is leading his team & clients towards digital marketing excellence. He’s worked with over 100 construction clients; helping them on their digital transformation journey, providing sustainable strategies that return year on year incremental growth, delivering award-winning websites and adding value from board level to marketing assistant.

4 Responses to “UBM publish research results for construction industry marketers”

  1. Will Mann

    Interesting that the survey only looked at titles that have a print title, and not some of the more recent web-only start-ups, eg. TheConstructionIndex.co.uk.

  2. Pritesh Patel

    Thanks for your comment Will.

    I think because the entire survey looked at publications who provide both an offline and online version they excluded those who just do one or the other in order to get a balanced result.

    More details will be published by UBM soon. Stay tuned.

  3. Ed Sexton


    Thanks for posting this, a very interesting analysis of the research we published.

    Let me try and address a couple of things you brought up in your post.

    Regarding the lists we used, less than 20% of the people we contacted were current subscribers which should help to remove bias or skewing of figures.

    Our company, United Business Media (UBM), has a huge database – so other contacts included conference and exhibition invitees, delegates and attendees from a variety of UBM events, plus users of Barbour ABI and magazine website users. These names were combined with a substantial number of 3rd party contacts (more information on that to follow). Despite this it’s inevitable that any list we use (even 3rd party lists) will contain a proportion of our subscribers as our magazines have wide readership within these markets.

    Members of professional organisations were rented direct from source – including RICS for quantity surveyors and building surveyors – or list-built from published member directories including ARB and CIAT.

    Unfortunately there is no definitive source for contractors or housebuilders: a master list of establishments was therefore created for members of the UK Contractors Group, NFB, the NHBC, the Home Builders Federation and those in Building’s 250 contractor lists. We populated these establishments with contact details by cross-checking named individuals from Barbour ABI data and from 3rd party lists – namely Property Data (the most complete and independent resource we could find!), rented data from EMAP and Reed (which would have included subscribers to our competitors); and list-built from NFB’s published directory.

    Similary, a master list was built for Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) from the National Housing Federation Directory and populated using similar sources.

    Clients were obtained from Barbour ABI’s register of planning applications.

    The invite to complete the survey was also branded GfK – and not Building or BD – so the research could be as independent as possible.
    We’ve found that these results for Building magazine also show amazing consistency when compared with all independent research exercises conducted over the past 15 years and more. Starting with the ARCBUILD research, then JICBUILD, TNS’s 2005 and now this research by GfK.

    On some other points:

    @Will Mann: @Pritesh Patel Yep, that’s right Pritesh. The main purpose of this research was to look at our closest competitors who, like us, produce print orientated information with a web element to them. It’s a like for like comparison and trying to compare a print-based product to a web-only product is difficult and may have been harder to justify any conclusions we came to. Web only brands are definitely something we will consider in future research we conduct.

    Online behaviour – on your final paragraph for this section, I think the ‘35%’ should be ‘75%’.

    I hope this answers a few of the queries that came up, as you mention we will be adding more information to our site – http://www.ubmbuiltenvironment.com/research – over the coming weeks.

    Kind regards,
    Ed Sexton, Marketing Manager, UBM Built Environment (publishers of BD and Building)

  4. Rob Searle

    Interesting read… I publish http://www.Careerstructure.com which now generates huge volumes of specific traffic (260,000 monthly) to jobs and news within construction and the built environment.

    Are people visiting these sites or landing on certain pages from news emails. I think the sample size is fairly limited which might not reflect the total market


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