Business Media Group Eschews Print, Embraces Webcasts

In the latest sign of traditional media's embrace of the digital frontier, American Business Media (ABM) announced late last week that it will begin broadcasting edited footage of selected New York events via video webcasts.

Available on the ABM home page, the webcasts made their debut with a segment featuring Forbes Managing Editor Dan Bigman weighing in on the effects of online media at ABM's "B-to-B Meets: e-media, RSS, blogs, et al" conference on August 3, 2005 at Scholastic International in Manhattan.

"This marks a new direction for ABM in adopting technology," said Steve Ennen, director of communications at American Business Media. "It doesn't replace print, but it augments it. Now you have the ability to not only deliver an interesting format, but more content as well."

In addition to the event footage, Ennen said that ABM would also begin webcasting original content "within a few weeks."

Traditional media's embrace of the digital frontier has been one of the salient facts of publishing life in 2005, with recent deals seeing United Business Media purchasing the Internet-based publishing and analysis firm Light Reading, Inc., Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. purchase of Scout Media, and newspaper giant Gannett's purchase of the rich media technology company PointRoll.

In a report published this week, which tracked 598 B2B companies with more than $5 million in revenue, the research and advisory firm Outsell, Inc. found a "significant drop in user spending on B2B content, from 55 percent of total content spending in 2001 down to 40 percent in 2005...Practically this entire 15 percent drop comes from News & Trade Content... Users are finding alternatives to paid N&T sources: mostly ad-supported content and user-created content from blogs."

The study reinforces a trend noted in a study published last month by the merchant bank Veronis Suhler Stevenson, which said that while business-to-business magazine media spending was set to grow a modest 2.7 percent in 2005, and between 3.1 and 3.8 percent over the next four years, e-media spending was set to increase a brisk 26.5 percent in 2005.

"People on the Internet are looking for trusted brands to get their information from," says Forbes Managing Editor Dan Bigman, whose address comprises ABM's first webcast. "Fox's acquisitions were interesting, as obviously Mr. Murdoch sees a big future in (the online channel). If there's one thing that all of this says, it's that the Internet is here to stay--and that the bubble was a stock bubble and it was not a media bubble."

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