BtoB Magazine fizzles, newsletter remains

Another trade pub doesn’t quite die, I’d say it fizzles:

BtoB will go digital-only beginning Jan. 1, featuring daily online b2b news and a dedicated e-newsletter as part of the previously announced merger of BtoB and Advertising Age.
— via BtoB to go all-digital as part of Ad Age | B2B Management Reorganization.

Is there much to say about this? Yea, there is:

1. First off, I’ve been throwing away the Advertising Age magazines they’ve been sending me. Absolutely not relevant to me.

2. Can we assume that as B2B marketers like myself have been able to get along without trade publication advertising, so to the coverage that BtoB used to offer isn’t as relevant. And their repeated features of listing top agencies, etc. aren’t that useful when you can Google around to find services if you need them.

3. BtoB tended to spend too much time covering high-end campaigns that are called business-to-business, but are advertised much like business-to-consumer, such as FedEx and UPS. But that’s where the action and money was.

4. There are just too many small operations like myself that find the content of BtoB Magazine interesting, but not spending enough money to entice the advertisers.

5. Look at that link, you’ll see no comments posted complaining of the loss of a, what, 75 year old publication.

I will say that the BtoB Newsletter seems pretty robust, and I am hopeful that it stays. Let’s see if Ad Age can stick with the B2B market coverage like they promised in the above news release.

Fun: Here is a post from the first year of B2Blog referencing an article from BtoB Magazine’s newsletter.

Death spiral of a B2B trade pub, 2013 style

Even before the Internet, our industry had a tenuous relationship with trade magazines. Advertising was expensive, and our companies were all a bit too small to afford spending what we needed to. At one point, one of our competitors even ran a full page “we’ll shoot this guy if we don’t get enough inquiries” ad, just before I got hired. It is a thing of legend, that I wish I had a copy of.

There were two magazines that covered ‘test equipment’ reliably, EE and T&MW. EE was always the second fiddle. As soon as I and my contemporaries got a handle on having a website, we stopped any advertising in these magazines. But those with bigger budgets and new products to tout kept using these publications for 15 years.

Then the death spiral started … for T&MW.

(I’m skipping discussing ownership of the pubs, as it is hard to follow and less relevant to the actual results.)

The first big event two years ago, was the defection of the senior editor of T&MW to EE. I don’t know the insides of this, but certainly he was important to both readers and advertisers. Both magazines suffered from this, I think: EE hasn’t taken advantage of his editorial prowess, and T&MW never filled his shoes.

Then, in a simple email last year, we subscribers and advertisers learned that T&MW was going to be online-only. Bam! No more print. I have two guesses about this: A major advertiser, Agilent, pulled out; or owners were being pragmatic and forward looking. There seemed to be a pretty interesting attempt at changing the editorial process into something like popular tech blogs run these days. For me, as a casual reader, this ended my consumption of their content. Email newsletter updates came pretty much as they had before, and the RSS feed of their blogs languished.

Now, just recently, the owners of T&MW have announced a reorganization of their trade pubs, once again focusing on online content. And in that re-org, T&MW was getting cut out. Bam! No more T&MW.

My thoughts?

Certainly it is a shame to lose a source of quality editorial for testing professionals. They did a good job revamping the magazine in the mid-2000s to get in the field and tell the stories of what others are doing to be successful in testing.

And, based on EE’s thin issues, you’ve got to wonder when they’ll be dropping out of the picture.

While some companies are working on good content-marketing programs that fill the gap and are more effective for themselves, where is the public discourse and discussion of successful application of technology and techniques?

I don’t care about advertising where ever that is, I care that it exists to further achievements of industry. The internet has moved technology and society so far so fast, yet there are casualties along the way the actually slow the advances, and losing a major trade pub is one of them.

UPDATE (6/28/2013): Here is their post announcing the change to their readers.

The real beginning of the end for trade pubs?


Reed Business Information’s Shocking News (Russ Green @

“Friday’s news that Reed Business Information is closing many of its US trade publications and web sites – without warning – is truly shocking to B2B marketing professionals who have relied on these vehicles to reach technical audiences.”

Wholy crap! (Read the news & list from the RBI site.) Looks like they sold about half their pubs, and finally gave up on selling the rest (looks like 23). I know one of those shuttered, and I can say it was not doing well, but wow. A big gap in the trade pub world for sure.

Russ continues in his posting encouraging B2B marketers to develop their own content and audiences. Interesting that we should start calling our customer base ‘audiences’ and not ‘prospects’ any more. Maybe that’s the other part of this paradigm shifting.