London-based UBM, a global business-to-business events organizer and parent company of The PR Newswire press release distribution service, today acquired Joe Pulizzi's Cleveland-based Content Marketing Institute (CMI) for $17.6 million.

The buy — in keeping with UBM's broad, ongoing strategic focus on the events space — is mainly to gain control of CMI events, including its yearly content marketing conference.

CMI runs Content Marketing World, an event that runs every September in the Cleveland Convention Center. Last year, it attracted more than 3,500 attendees from 55 countries.

It's still no HubSpot Inbound — held the same exact week last fall as Content Marketing World — which pulled in more than 14,000. But content marketing is hot, and CMI claims to have the largest "content event" in the world.

“Our ‘Events First’ strategy focuses on improving the quality of UBM’s portfolio," Tim Cobbold, CEO of UBM, said in a statement. "And Content Marketing World, as the leading event in this high-growth sector, enhances our portfolio and strengthens our leading position in the US events industry.”

Intelligent Content Movement

CMI also produces other conferences and events. At its latest event — the Intelligent Content Conference (ICC) in Las Vegas in March — CMI officials highlighted the challenges for marketers to create content that is by definition "intelligent" — automatically discoverable, reusable, reconfigurable and adaptable.

The Intelligent Content Conference was founded by Ann Rockley, President of The Rockley Group and co-produced by Scott Abel, The Content Wrangler. In June of 2014 Content Marketing Institute acquired ICC with the goal of taking ICC and awareness around intelligent content to the next level.

In 2015, CMI generated $6 million to $9 million of its revenues from events and $3 million from other marketing services.

Pulizzi Package

UBM also gets Pulizzi, one of the industry's better-known analysts. He has become a content marketing rockstar of sorts, known for his full-on orange business suit during keynotes at Content Marketing World and what some have described as rock-solid industry advice.

UBM officials said they found content marketing an "attractive sector with an exciting adjacency to UBM’s technology portfolio."

"Marketing professionals in the technology space are early adopters of content marketing strategies," officials said, "while the discipline of marketing is becoming increasingly dependent on, and enabled by, new technologies."

Learning Opportunities

Reach More Marketers

In a blog post today, Pulizzi said called UBM the No. 1 B2B events organizer in the US and Asia, with a large business globally in many verticals.

The move helps CMI take its vision of advancing the approach of content marketing to more marketers in the US and around the world, according to Pulizzi.

"Acquisitions are sometimes good and sometimes bad," Pulizzi said. "In this case, this is a very good thing for both CMI and the industry. Long story short, we are ready to expand and grow to continue our mission of education, training and serving the content marketing community."

Still, Pulizzi called the decision to be acquired "incredibly difficult."

"We would never decide to sell the business if our vision would be compromised in any way," he said. "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."

He added every member of the CMI team is continuing in their roles at CMI. Nothing is changing, he added.

In January of 2011, CMI launched Chief Content Officer magazine. In September of 2011, it produced the first Content Marketing World, which featured 660 attendees. In 2016, for its sixth Content Marketing World, Pulizzi said more than 4,000 will attend the September event, coming from more than 60 countries. CMI also has monthly webinars, ongoing master classes, Content Marketing University and This Old Marketing podcast and a number of other initiatives.

Title image "Joe Pulizzi - Content Marketing World" (CC BY 2.0) by TopRankMarketing