June 1, 2016 Last Updated 4:54 pm

UBM acquires the Content Marketing Institute for $17.6M

UBM continues to move on its ‘Events First’ strategy, having acquired Advanstar at the end of 2014 in a much larger $972M deal

The Content Marketing Institute has been acquired by the business-to-business events company UBM**. The price tag was $17.6 million, with possible additional earn-outs depending on whether the new unit of UBM can meet its profit targets over the next 2 years.

CCO-cover-300The Content Marketing Institute was founded by Joe Pulizzi, without question the best promoter in the business. For years the old ABM was dominated by sessions featuring Pulizzi and brands touting the benefits of content marketing, often to audiences of B2B publishers wondering why an association that purportedly was there to represent them was promoting another organization that was trying to steal their lunch. The trade publications that supposedly served the magazine industry went along, as well. (The apocryphal quote about capitalists selling the rope that will be used to hang them comes to mind.)

UBM was very open in its announcement about both the sales price, and revenue performance, of the CMI event:

CMI produces Content Marketing World, the leading event in the content marketing sector. The annual event runs every September in the Cleveland Convention Center, Ohio and in 2015 attracted over 3,500 attendees from 55 countries. CMI also produces a number of supporting conferences and websites that serve the content marketing community. In 2015 CMI revenues were approximately $9m – $6m from Events and $3m from Other Marketing Services.

“I’m beyond excited to announce that Content Marketing Institute has been acquired by UBM,” Pulizzi said on the organization’s website.

“Even though we always imagined selling the business at some point, this was an incredibly difficult decision. We would never decide to sell the business if our vision would be compromised in any way. One of the reasons UBM decided to make this purchase is because of the passion of the CMI team and the community. Continuing that is critical to our ongoing success. Simply put, I’m more passionate than ever about what’s going on in content marketing and in people like you who are making change happen around the world,” Pulizzi said.

The CMI also publishes a quarterly magazine, Chief Content Officer, which reaches around 22,000 marketing executives.

** UBM now likes to say that it is an events company now – “enriched with digital and print media.” UBM’s history goes back to its founding in 1918 as United Newspapers Limited, and for many years was a powerhouse in the B2B print magazine business. In November 2014 the company announced a new Events First strategy and a goal to become the world’s leading B2B events company. In December 2014 UBM acquired Advanstar (in a $972 million deal), another B2B media company that had been a big in print trade magazines, but also had moved aggressively into trade shows.

The move to events is but one way some B2B publishers have been able to maintain or grow their businesses. For years, magazine publishers knew that there was a huge advantage to own both an industry’s trade show and its trade magazine, with issues surrounding an annual show often the thickest of the year. Not being the owner of the big show in an industry meant risking being a second or third choice for advertising. Now, with so many brands cutting back on print advertising, having a magazine in an industry, and not being tied to an event, is sometimes a combination that spells the end. Where the trade show is independently owned, or owned by a trade association, publishers continue to fight for tie-ins to the event such as the show daily or exhibitor guides, again with the magazine with the tie-in being at a distinct advantage.

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