American Business Media (ABM) announced this week that it was merging with the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA). The combination, according to a Folio.com report, will end ABM’s 107 year history as an independent organization representing the interests of B2B publishers.
This is what ABM chief executive Clark Pettit had to say about the decision:
“This was driven by our own strategic view of where the industry is going,” Pettit said. “Associations have to bring together the pieces of an industry needed to develop the business models of the future, and allow members to align with where their customers are going, not align the communities of the past.”
If the merger is one data point addressing the state of the B2B publishing industry, here’s another: this week’s bloodbath at United Business Media. UBM’s Tech Group is getting completely out of the print media business and planning hundreds of layoffs:
“Traditional b-to-b media has changed dramatically in recent years,” says UBM Tech CEO Paul Miller in a statement. “A lot of what worked in the past is no longer viable.”
Here’s one other thing to consider. UBM Tech will shift all of its remaining digital brands to its DeusM platform. The DeusM group was launched to build and run community-focused web sites for B2B technology brands, based mostly on a sponsorship model.
By most accounts, DeusM has been extremely successful, even as the rest of UBM Tech stumbled through a series of leadership shuffles and reorgs. Whatever the technical merits of the DeusM platform, the decision to regroup what’s left of UBM Tech around that platform tells you which way the wind is blowing.
Put together all of these pieces, and it’s clear that we have hit a turning point in the history of B2B publishing. ABM was a standard-bearer for traditional B2B media; now, it’s being folded into an organization dominated by technology brands. While some of UBM’s traditional editorial brands remain intact (notably InformationWeek), it sure looks like UBM is far more concerned with serving and supporting its B2B content marketing activities.
Traditional B2B editorial isn’t going away. It still serves an important, if undeniably diminished, role. But this week’s events make one thing abundantly clear: Companies with ambitious, forward-looking content marketing strategies represent the future of B2B publishing. Have you considered how your firm fits into this picture?