Brian Fuller's blog on the media, marketing and content creation

UPDATE: The Breakup of CMP Media

Posted on | February 29, 2008 | 1 Comment


Caught up with new TechInsights CEO Paul Miller today to get the scoop on the breakup of CMP into four companies reporting directly to parent United Business Media. He’d taken umbrage at my line “same sheep, different clothing,” he but was nice enough to jaw on the phone for a bit.

So here’s his take. Each of the old CMP Media divisions was beginning to morph in different directions as their audiences evolved. In electronics for instance, a maturing market is demanding more than just information titles that reach key engineers. They’re looking for marketing help. They’re looking for community building. They’re looking for innovative media creation. Miller evolved the old electronics group with that in mind, when he picked up How Stuff Works, Semiconductor Insights, Portelligent, TechOnline and RFID World in recent years. Marketing, research, insight, community building, events.

The needs of that type of business don’t generally jibe with the needs of the old Channel or BTG groups. CMP as a corporate entity, in the old days, was structured to service virtually identical needs of old media businesses: graphics, printing, HR, legal, IT. But it loses is efficiency of scale when the businesses diverge. IT became more important as digital properties were built out, but people internally would “game” the system to get their projects higher up the IT priority list. No one wins in that scenario.

As an independent company, TechInsights has its own developers—a team whose livelihood rests on helping the company build new revenue–quickly. The Techinsights Website was built in six days, Miller said. That’s the way it needs to be done. Look at the new Teardown TV on EE Times. It’s the latest iteration of video coverage that goes back a decade in that group. It’s well done, and Rich Nass and Patrick Mannion are going to evolve into the Click and Clack of the sector.

So smaller could very well equal nimbler, and certainly the sclerotic effect of having to work inside a huge company (CMP), which works inside a huger company (UBM), goes away.

So what’s up with print then? Print hangs in there, Miller said. He and I share the same feeling that while not all print hangs in there, authoritative publications that give readers intelligent snapshots of what they need to know (and don’t know they need to know) will survive. EE Times will be a survivor. But increasingly that company’s business is moving away from publishing. Less than half its revenue comes from the old publishing model today. News flash—print ain’t a cash cow anymore. At the same time, it’s far from assured that current online advertising models are all that robust. Banners have lost their luster and cost-per-click is pretty much discredited. Engagement is the new model, and no one’s delivering on its promise yet. Maybe someday. But not now.

So marketers (this is my take) will re-assess print, particularly in a market sector (electronics) where the audience ain’t going away from print. In fact, Miller said, subscription renewals for EE Times have risen the past two years (and I’ll tell you that three years ago, the rate was really high, so it’s not coming from a low base). There’s a balance to be found in your marketing budget.

Bottom line, for me, is that the same-old same-old with a new CEO would have been death. This approach is different, and it enables these businesses to stand or fall on their own. That’s why capitalism is beautiful. What remains to be seen is whether the electronics industry will increase its support for TechInsights, not because of TechInsights but because of itself.

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Comments

One Response to “UPDATE: The Breakup of CMP Media”

  1. TechInsights Reorganizes into EE Times Group and Professional Services |
    October 18th, 2009 @ 8:04 am

    […] TechInsights announced last week that it is cleaving professional services from its media business, the twin pillars that formed TechInsights after it shed the CMP brand name. […]

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