Following dismal registrations, American Business Media, the b-to-b publishing trade association, has decided to alter its annual Digital Velocity conference.

The two-day, e-media-focused event had been scheduled to take place March 3-4 at McGraw-Hill in New York.

Instead, the conference will be half-day series of live Webinars, produced at the association’s offices on March 3 and archived on its Web site, Gordon Hughes, ABM’s president and CEO, told FOLIO: Thursday."This is an experiment," Hughes said.

The event was launched by ABM to capture some of the momentum in the movement to e-media by its members. In 2008, the conference drew over 250 attendees. Now, less than 50 are expected to attend in person.

Less than 100 people had signed up for the 2009 version, Hughes said. "You can’t have people flying in for that." Half-day Webinars, he said, will be the model for all of ABM’s events professional development events moving forward. "We’re trying to save our members the cost of traveling and time away from the office," Hughes said.

However, the association’s annual and Top Management meetings, as well as the Neal Awards, will continue as planned, Hughes said.

Digital Velocity is the second multi-day magazine association event to be cancelled within a week. Last Friday, the Magazine Publishers of America pulled the plug on its annual American Magazine Conference, which was to take place in Boca Raton, Florida in October. Instead, the MPA is planning a one-day, business-focused event in New York.

“The cancellation of this year’s AMC is in response to the difficult economic climate facing all businesses, including the magazine industry,” MPA president Nina Link said.  “We recognize that this year our members are looking at a variety of ways to achieve savings, which would include curtailing certain discretionary travel and hotel expenses.  We hope to resume the AMC next year.”

"We are in touch with our members," Hughes added. "Associations that don’t figure that out are going to have issues."