The Plight of Electronic Engineering Times and Other Niche Publications

The Plight of Electronic Engineering Times and Other Niche Publications image eetimes logo zpsd2838525The Plight of Electronic Engineering Times and Other Niche Publications

Word has circulated through the grapevine that EE Times has experienced yet another staff reduction.

At least the move comes at a time when companies including those in the semiconductor industry have got the content marketing religion. For journalists open to exploring gigs outside the traditional media, they’ll find options.

But what about EE Times?

What’s the economic prognosis for the book?

If I can sum it up one word, notsogood.

I hate saying this because I’m a fan of EE Times and the journalists who have put their hearts and souls into building a quality product.

Roughly 18 months ago Junko Yoshida, EIC at the time, was good enough to speak at one of our Silicon Valley Lunch Buckets about the publication’s change of direction to cultivate a greater sense of community. She shared the chart below which showed that reader engagement was trending in the right direction.

The Plight of Electronic Engineering Times and Other Niche Publications image EETIMESCHART zps1c230dfdThe Plight of Electronic Engineering Times and Other Niche Publications

But the publication never seemed to get over the hump financially, even though it’s still viewed today as the No. 1 media property by most engineers.

We all recognize the Internet has swung a wrecking ball through the publishing industry sending the carnage every which way.

Yet, new media properties are surfacing on a regular basis, some achieving economic viability in a relatively short period of time.

What gives, and why hasn’t EE Times been able to capitalize on Internet economics?

I have a theory.

When the audience skews to an under-35 demographic, there’s a Web-savvy publisher applying clever ways to engage and make money. I’m not just talking about properties focused on social media and startups like TechCrunch. The same dynamic also plays out in seemingly niche areas as well.

Take Lifehacker, which appeals to the inner geek.

70 percent of Lifehacker’s 4 million readers sit between 18 and 34 years old.

Lifehacker’s advertising function even put together a positioning chart with age on the horizontal axis.

The Plight of Electronic Engineering Times and Other Niche Publications image GawkerChart02 06 13 zps12cfa327The Plight of Electronic Engineering Times and Other Niche Publications

A media property like Lifehacker can reach these types of numbers by emphasizing programming and apps which in turn brings in the younger demographic.

Back to EE Times, its target engineers skew on the older side which leaves the suits in an impossible place: they can’t make money with print – which they ditched years ago – but the audience won’t “fully” engage online where they can be monetized.

UBM must feel like they’re watching grass grow as they wait for a favorable demographic.

Being my mid 50’s, it pains me to say there’s a killer media property waiting to be launched that says, “Forget the old guys (and gals), we’re targeting young engineers (under 35).”

I’m hoping UBM does this.

I’m convinced someone will because the importance of engineers, what they think and what they buy has only increased in this world gone digital.

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