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UBM Tech doubles down on community model

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UBM Tech has a new vision for its future, and it doesn't involve print media. Last month the media company announced it would stop producing print publications and focus instead on the integration of face-to-face and digital communities. The company held up the relationship between the 2013 Game Developers Conference and online community gamasutra.com as a successful model of its new approach. “You're seeing more integration of our online and event communities,” said Marco Pardi, president-UBM Tech Events. “We've taken the digital property and reoriented it around a peer-to-peer offering that connects to a live experience.” The relationship is one that the company will carry over to partnerships between security conference Black Hat and digital community darkreading.com, as well as InformationWeek and networkcomputing.com. The UBM Tech library spans business technology, vendor channel, electronics, and game and app development verticals. It includes brands such as Byte, CRN, DesignCon, EE Times and Interop. Gamasutra.com and the Game Developers Conference serve the same professional audience and for the past two years have seen some level of integration, said Simon Carless, exec VP-Game Network and Black Hat at UBM Tech. Carless oversees both the online community and the conference. Gamasutra.com pairs UBM Tech-generated content with user-generated content, a combination that draws more than 1 million unique visitors to the site each month, according to the company. Contributors can post articles, make comments and select stories for promotion to the site's front page, actively shaping a conversation that focuses on the game development industry. In the runup to the 2013 Game Developers Conference that took place in San Francisco in March, that conversation turned into one of the best drivers of traffic for the conference website, delivering 25,000 clicks from January to April, Carless said. “It was the biggest referrer except Google, bigger than both Facebook and Twitter. We don't have statistics from three years ago, but I can tell you that one of the top referrers to the Game Developers Conference was not Gamasutra. Now it is.” The change has been editorially driven, he said. This year the company created a contract editorial position, tasking that editor with building event content to reside on both the official conference website and the community website. Content included video excerpts from previous conferences, event logistics, navigation tips and highlighted presentations. Game Developers Conference posts carried a disclaimer, acknowledging that the publisher also produces the event. Editorial content drove 75% of click-throughs to the event site, while banners contributed just 25%. Content presented on gamasutra.com garnered twice as many page views as the same content presented on the independent event website. Moreover, it seeded conversation among community members who attended the event. “Some of our news coverage of the Game Developers Conference was written by the community,” Carless said. “That hasn't happened before.” The event achieved record-setting attendance, with more than 23,000 professionals and 350 exhibitors participating in the conference. “The reason that UBM is moving this way is that we're picking the media properties and events that fit closely, when there is a community that meshes very closely to the event,” Carless said. The company is now hiring a permanent editor to generate content and cross-populate the sites as the conference travels to new locations. Content will evolve to include interviews with the conference advisory board as well as trend stories developed around panel discussions and event topics. “We sit between Gamasutra and GDC and post information about the show simultaneously on both the websites,” Carless said. “That is our method of getting the message out to the community. Often people have trouble with that linkage.”
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