UBM Tech kills print, makes killing in events

Yesterday, UBM Tech officially announced the death of all print publications with a couple of small exceptions, in favor of a new global strategy that merges content with events.  This is a sea change for the electronics design industry and brings up a lot of questions.

First, some details.  There will still be publications like EE Times, EBN, EDN and Information Week, but they will all be online.  These publications, however, are no longer publications but “communities” where information is shared and discussed under the eye of content managers...which used to be called journalists.  These managers will still be developing original content on the sites, but that content is meant to drive readers to additional content placed by sponsors...which used to be called advertisers.

 Here’s where it gets interesting.  All this content is focused on one direction: the events that UBM puts on including Design West, ARM Tech Con, DesignCon, the Black Hat Conference and hundreds of others.  Why are they doing this? Because advertising in print has dropped to 8 percent of their total revenue per annum and revenue from events is growing by leaps and bounds.  Currently, UBM is number 4 in the trade show industry behind Reed Exhibitions, Messe Frankfurt, and GL Events.  Interestingly enough, Reed sold all of its print and online publications a few years ago, several of them to UBM.  But UBM is integrating those publications into their events business now which creates a massive promotional engine for their events.

 Several years ago, UBM Tech CEO Paul Miller told me that UBM will soon not be a media company but a marketing company and it seems the transition is complete.  Apparently, UBM even killed EE Times Confidential, the subscription-only publication that Miller had crowed about to me as recently as January 2012 as an example of how a magazine can be run profitably.  The last issue I can find is March 2012 and the last article on line is a wrap up of ARM Tech Con from October.

 (That’s a little embarrassing for me because I’ve been using EET Confidential as an example of how people will pay for good content.)

 This move has significant implications for everyone.  If you are a startup company hoping to get a few lines of decent press from a UBM “content manager” then you will need to be spending some money on at least one of their trade shows; or you will have to start looking at one of the media companies that still serves your niche.  And many of the latter are developing their own niche communities where the sponsors hold sway over the content...and in many cases create themselves.

 If you are a media company, a door of opportunity has just swung wide open for you to fill the gap with independent content, or at least a repository for sponsored content that doesn’t come with a big trade show price tag.

 Any company that wants to get their story out into the world is going to have to learn how to create compelling engaging content or be overwhelmed by competitors who do.

 Is this a good move for UBM? I think it is.  The media world would have loved to continue being sources of unbiased content, but no one wanted to pay for it under that paradigm.  Now, to be successful, companies are going to have to be concerned with developing that content themselves, and companies like UBM are going to profit from that.  So is everyone involved in real journalism.

 It’s a sellers market for journalists now.  Evolve or follow the Dodo.

Want to start developing effective content for the new paradigm? Call us.