Every now and then, I take a look at the media landscape for clients that want to communicate with electronics design engineers, particularly hardware engineers that specify or buy components and sub-assemblies. Anyone working in B2B technical marketing will know that this landscape is evolving. Companies are publishing more of their own material in website resource libraries and on blogs, online communities play an ever-growing role in helping engineers solve technical problems, and social media channels such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are all attracting significant engineering audiences. But the trade and tech media roll on and the best of the outlets still have an air of authority about them, even if they’re owned by companies that are not independent publishers. EETimes, EDN, Electronic Products and Embedded.com are owned by AspenCore, which is owned by Arrow Electronics.
For my snapshot analysis, I used two tools to analyse ten sites: the free version of SimilarWeb and the search engine marketing tool suite, SEMrush. I used SimilarWeb to analyse total website traffic and a few other stats about that traffic. SEMrush gave me the authority measure for each of the media sites. Authority is a measure of perceived site quality. Measured on a scale from 0 to 100, 100 being best, it’s based on a combination of backlink data, organic search data, and website traffic volume. Incidentally, I was going to use SEMrush for traffic data too but SimilarWeb is quicker and easier for global analysis.
Of course, the data produced by these tools is not definitive and the Google Analytics data held by each publisher for its own sites may not reflect exactly the same results. But we are comparing the sites using the same tools. The table below shows my findings.
The figure for ‘Monthly Visitors’ is the average number of visitors per month between May and October 2019.
The IEEE Spectrum site attracts more traffic than all the other nine combined. However, the IEEE website covers more than just electronics, it’s a general engineering and technology site. One of the most interesting aspects of the site is that, according to SimilarWeb, under one-fifth of visitors are from the US, and it receives a similar proportion from China. It is also the site with the highest domain authority.
Allaboutcircuits.com has the most traffic of any pure electronics site – about five times as much as EETimes. This may partly be explained by its combination of hobbyist, educational and professional content. There are many more electronics hobbyists than professional engineers.
The IEEE Global Spec site, of which Electronics360 is part, reflects results from an audience of many kinds of engineer, not just electronics engineers.
EETimes still leads the pack as a publication aimed squarely at the professional electronics market. EDN, Electronic Products and Embedded.com are the three other AspenCore titles analysed here.
In the days of print, EDN and Electronic Design were head-on competitors as the most technically informative media outlets. They attract broadly similar numbers of visitors today with about a third coming from a US audience. There is however, one significant difference. EDN’s bounce rate – the number of visitors that only visit the page they initially land on before leaving the site – is 80%. Electronic Design’s bounce rate is just 48%, so it has greater reader engagement. Of those outlets analysed, only IEEE Spectrum has a lower bounce rate at 45.8%.
EEJournal claims in its media kit to have attracted “a large and loyal audience of engineering professionals” but the numbers in this analysis suggest that its following is rather niche, derived perhaps from a limited editorial focus in its earlier days. The site also has the highest bounce rate of all those analysed, at 87.5%.
Embedded Computing Design is focussed on that subject, so value judgements on its website traffic have to take account of the specialism. It has less than half the traffic of Embedded.com but it does come from an independent publisher.
When evaluating media, all this information is just a starting point. It doesn’t tell you definitively which outlet will reach your audience or achieve your communications objectives in the most cost-effective way. If you’ve been able to compare the results from advertising and PR campaigns, such evidence will be a more valuable indicator of which outlets are right for you. Then, of course, there’s the cost of getting coverage in each outlet to be taken into account.
Both of the tools used to carry out this analysis provide many more details about the website traffic of these publisher domains. I use the SimilarWeb widget for a Chrome browser to get free basic traffic data. You can find it here. I think there’s one for Firefox too. SEMrush is one of the most comprehensive tools for a deep dive, although Alexa and MOZ provide many similar functions.