Wednesday, April 10, 2013

B2B media trade association American Business Media to be merged into the SIIA's Content Division

Tough times continue for American B2B publishers, and the consequence of consolidation and private equity company ownership has taken its toll on the industry's main trade association, American Business Media (ABM). As a result, the association said today that it would, following a vote of its members, merge into the Content Division of the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA). The SIIA is the main trade association for the software and digital content industry, and some of its members overlap with the ABM.

"The reality is, we can no longer remain a standalone association. We have thoroughly investigated ways to expand, downsize or specialize to remain standalone. Unfortunately, these options neither work financially nor move the industry forward," the ABM said on a new website set up for the merger. "By merging ABM with the Content division of SIIA, we can preserve the media and advertising model while creating direct access to expertise in business information, paid content, technology, and more."

"By joining forces, we can bring the entire industry together and magnify opportunities for connection -- so the right people can connect in the right environments and bring innovations to market," said SIIA President Ken Wasch.

But the move essentially spells the end of the ABM as the industry representative of B2B media in the U.S. It's hard to shed a tear for the demise of an association that seemed more like a vehicle for promoting content marketing for brands, or selling virtual trade shows, than promoting the interests of B2B publishers.

Ultimately, though, the irrelevant industry events at warm weather resorts, or the lack of meaningful services the association provided its members, can not be blamed for forcing the ABM to make this move. When so much of the industry has contracted, or fallen into the hands of bankers with no long term interest in the industry, it is hard to fund a trade association made up of paying members or associate members. Like the merger of the old classified advertising association into the NAA, this move is simply a reflection of the industry's current strength.

(Not surprisingly, one of the first sessions to take place at the ABM's annual conference to be held alter this month is entitled "Competing in the Private Equity Age as an Independent.")

The past few years, which have been so hard on all publishers, have been especially hard on B2B publishers in the U.S. Ad pages were down 8.79 percent through November (the ABM still has not released year-end numbers for 2012). Further, U.S. B2B publishers have been lagging far behind their consumer counterparts in launching new mobile and tablet publications, with only a handful of publishers seemingly committed to the new platforms.