Signal or noise?

Last week, American Business Media (ABM), the association representing business-to-business publishers, announced plans to merge with the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA). The merger is subject to approval of ABM's members at an annual meeting scheduled to take place later this month in Amelia Island, Florida.

Writing for Crain Communications' BtoB Media BusinessJohn Obrect reports that about 20 of ABM's 220 members are also members of SIIA, so the merger expands horizons for both organizations. Clark Pettit, ABM's president & CEO, offered his view of the merger:

Our members are rapidly evolving and expanding their businesses with new capabilities, business models and platforms – and that requires access to new thought leadership, research and networking. The combination of SIIA and ABM creates the breadth and scale required to powerfully represent, promote and defend the entire business information and media industry. It creates the nexus that brings together all relevant business models and technologies and forms a platform for future strategic alliances.

It's hard for associations to vote themselves out of existence, and the companies convening in Florida could conceivably overrule the ABM's board. But the growing use of digital platforms to create, maintain and disseminate content is going to force a large number of trade associations to evaluate their own business models.

This is a point I made in presenting "the opportunity in abundance": that the publishing business needs a wider view and more effective R&D spending than its trade associations provide. That view was not widely accepted, and our associations continue to work as more or less independent entities. Time and financial viability will tell whether business as usual is the right course.

About Brian O'Leary

Founder and principal of Magellan Media Consulting, Brian O’Leary helps enterprises with media and publishing components capitalize on the power of content. A veteran of more than 30 years in the publishing industry and a prolific content producer himself, Brian leverages the breadth and depth of his experience to deliver innovative content solutions.

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