Posted on | October 18, 2009 | 14 Comments
TechInsights, the former CMP Electronics Group, reorganized again last week. The news went largely uncommented on, which, in one sense was not surprising: The company has reorganized in recent years with a frequency by which one could set a watch. However, this one is important because it should, within a very short time frame, show how viable the electronics trade press will remain.
A disclaimer: I now run communications and community for Numetrics, which is doing business with TechInsights.
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.
- Harry Page, the former Senior VP Professional Services, will become CEO of the professional services UBM TechInsights division.
- Paul Miller, who was CEO of TechInsights, will become CEO of the media division, now named EE Times Group.
- The changes take effect Jan. 1, 2010.
This announcement followed an early-September move in which TechInsights sold EE Times Europe to Andre Rousselot’s European Business Press SA. Rousselot had been running the business side of EET Europe alongside editor Richard Wallace, who spearheaded the drive to create a pan-European electronics publications until he was let go late last year in an earlier reorganization. Wallace now runs the site The Next Silicon Valley.
The Great Cleaving
This reorganization in many ways tosses the media business into the rapids. Miller, who orchestrated the old Electronics Group’s expansion into new businesses (acquiring for example the intellectual-property analysis firms Semiconductor Insights and Portelligent, among other things), is now the man with the paddle. SI and Portelligent in many ways brought home the bacon for TechInsights in the past year or so. (Companies want to work to protect their ip and investigate competitors’ ip in good times and bad, so those business are largely recession proof).
Not so, obviously, with the media business.
As the Rose Parade rolls through Pasadena on New Year’s Day, Miller will be facing the biggest challenge of his publishing career. He has been pilloried in some corners as the pages of EE Times have withered and its editors have moved on, but Miller never stood in front of the industry and said “Stop advertising with me; I don’t need your money.” No one else in the industry has evolved a media company as much in the worst of times. No one.
Follow the Money
He had to: The industry abandoned its publications with breathtaking suddenness. Companies have simply stopped advertising as a means of engaging engineers. They’ve taken that money and turned inward, using the promise of the Web and its cheap resources to build direct-engagement and vendor-as-publisher strategies. And today they’re waking up with more questions than answers.
The a la carte bingeing of recent years (“I’ll have two blogs, three Twitter feeds, a Facebook page and a LinkedIN group, now!”) has hit the digestive tract and the feeling is one of queasiness and confusion. They’ve realized that what publishers did over the span of generations–build a credible audience by giving them credible industry information and news–they haven’t been able to do on their own in two or three years and possibly won’t ever be able to replicate.
I and others building social legs to our marketing strategies (at Synopsys, at Mentor, at Cadence, at Magma, at Altera, at Denali, at Tensilica and dozens of other companies) are having a fun time in our own little echo chamber right now. We know the audience is not banging down our door, but we’re patient.
Burning Down the House
At the same time we know that the audience we want is still sitting in the circ rolls of EE Times Group and Reed and Penton and RTC Group and Extension Media and Hearst. We just can’t find budget for it. Meanwhile, we’re finding out that building content to lure that audience is hard work and the content is only part of the battle. Sometimes it seems like we’re trying to burn down a perfectly good house to build another one in its place.
Some time after New Year’s Day, this industry needs to pop a Bromo or two and get back to the business of sensible marketing–an integrated approach in which companies build smart, sensible channels to customers and prospects both directly and indirectly.
This bodes well for Miller and any other publisher who understand how the old works with the new.