Publishers branching out

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Publishers have been putting on events on the back of their publications for as long as anyone can remember.  But publishers are now operating in a very different landscape, from say five years ago. Most media giants were then reeling from the disruptive effects of broadband and smartphones as well as an economic downturn. In 2008 Reed Exhibitions had more than 470 events in 37 countries. Total revenues for that year were £707m.Total revenue for Reed Elsevier was £5.33bn. Reed Exhibitions currently runs 500 events in 41 countries generating £854m. Reed Elsevier’s total 2012 revenue was £6.1 billion.In 2008 RBI published 200 magazines across 14 countries. Since then there have been 36 sales including Computer Weekly and Travel Weekly. In addition, UBM has long been a major player in the exhibition market. In UBM’s 2012 results, it reported a revenue of £977.1m. Events earned £437.6m, with its print and digital businesses, £163.8m. In 2008, out of a total revenue of £887m, £291.8m was from events. At that time, it earned £215.6m from print magazines (online revenue was separated at this time) so there has been a clear shift in revenue generation. “UBM has gone through an enormous transformation. Around eight or nine years ago, we were a print publishing-led business,” said UBM chief content officer Adrian Barrick. “We’re working at a time now when traditional media has been hugely disrupted,” added Barrick. “We need to be mindful of changes in the commercial market, and not a passive recipient of news.” Newtrade Newtrade is a publisher for the retail newsagent market. The firm will host its debut show in association with the National Federation of Retail Newsagents (NFRN) on 6-7 October at EventCity, Manchester. The publisher has teamed up with Graham Lock, managing director of Cogent Events, an old hand in the exhibition industry, to put on the event. But for its bow in the industry, it has been a sharp learning curve. “As a business we have previously engaged in some face-to-face, or as they now like to be called peer-to-peer events,” said Newtrade managing director Nick Shanagher. “We had also launched a conference with the NFRN called the Local Shop Summit.” But after visiting the show which ran on 28-29 October, 2012 at The NEC, with Lock, Shanagher took the bold step of offering to help run the show of its partnership association. Newtrade had a presence at the show with the Profit Zone, an area specifically designed to provide retailers with advice and ideas for their shop through presentations and Q&A sessions with fellow retailers and top suppliers. The deal to jointly run the show with the NFRN was agreed in principle in December last year, and formally agreed in February 2013. The show was moved to EventCity and away from its late October date. “We found that a large amount of our demographic of readers is in the North West,” said Shanagher. “Plus it is next to one of Europe’s biggest shopping centres and also offers free parking which is a big incentive. “We also decided to move the event away from the half-term break, which is usually a time when people like to be with their families.” The move also made the show more distinct from its main competitors on the market – Pro Retail, run by Palmer and Harvey and held at the Telford International Centre, and William Reed’s National Convenience Store Show held at The NEC. Newtrade found the biggest challenge was understanding how to get retailers to see a trade show. “It’s an opportunity for them to meet people that can help their business,” said Shanagher.  “They work long hours, tend to be very busy and don’t leave their shops. “But we had 2,000 visitors last year and we’re hoping to increase that by around 40 per cent.Graham Lock, managing director of Cogent Events, has previously worked for Haymarket, Clarion, and Fresh Montgomery. “I approached Newtrade in October 2012 – as I approach all my clients – cold,” said Lock. “I identify publishers or media owners that have a strong media presence who are not actively involved in events, and ask them if they want to do events. “I said the event could be done better. I offered Newtrade two options, either they could set up a new event and compete with their association which would have been achievable and quite confrontational. Or they could form a joint venture and take that to market as a good positive story. “I also worked up a new proposition, making the show business-focused rather than deal-focused.”Lock said the key challenges were integrating the selling and marketing of the event within its structure, while also educating what good practice was in exhibition terms. “I don’t just look at publishers, I call them relationship owners. I help them to leverage new profits from events. It could be a membership association. Anything that has a loyal base of active followers. But some associations may have a lot of followers, but it can be difficult sometimes to animate them.” Lock has taken an event director role for the Independent Retail Show and looks after the budgeting of the show. “Experienced exhibition organisers are fantastic at what they do, so people who only do one event a year do not have that depth of experience. “Newtrade looks after the sales, marketing and content. The NFRN oversees the membership and financial management.” Future International media group and digital publisher Future is bringing a new consumer event in the photography sector to The NEC. The show moved into a gap created by the departure of the Focus on Imaging show at the venue. The Photography Show, which will take place on 1-4 March 2014 will offer a full-spec studio suite which will be created on-site for visitors and there will be themed areas including a Wildflower Garden. Future publishes photography magazines, including Digital Camera World, Photography Week and Practical Photoshop. “It came up as an opportunity when Focus On Imaging closed,” said Future’s head of events Jonny Sullens. “It made sense for us to throw our hat in the ring.” The show will be between 16-20,000sqm. It will have around 200 exhibitors, of which 70 per cent have signed up so far. Future sees the show as “unlocking the potential of its market leading brands”. The company already has a strong position within the photography sector.The Photography Show will be supported by a major six-figure marketing campaign, including targeting Future’s own leading technology brands T3 and TechRadar.com. “We will have a catwalk section, but the idea is to get people more hands on with cameras,” said Sullens. As a result of the move into exhibitions, Future has set up a six-strong events team specifically geared for new event activity. “Future is geared up as a digital and print publishing company,” said Sullens. “The biggest learning curve has been educating everyone on the timeframes of running a show, simple things like tracking invoices, or how a floorplan works. “Or it’s also been the pricing of the various elements and the Key Performance Indicators of a successful event.” Sullens was previously International Confex group director for UBM Live. He was previously show director at Ithaca Media, where he drove significant growth across a number of events, including Leisure Industry Week, before the company was acquired by UBM. He sees an easy and direct link between people subscribing to their photography magazines and visiting a show. “We are writing about passions and hobbies. These people will travel to indulge that passion.”Future is looking to add more shows to its portfolio. “We are looking at launching music and sport exhibitions, and also looking beyond the UK.” The firm also licenses its products around the globe, offering the opportunity to run product-related shows abroad. Informa Informa is a more experienced hand in the market. In the 1990s the firm was primarily a conference producer. Back in those days, printed newsletters were all the rage. In 2004 the firm took a decisive step when it purchased IIR, which owned a mix of conferences and exhibitions. According to Richard Menzies-Gow, head of investor relations at Informa, the split in revenue between overall events and publishing has remained the same over the past five years, Around two-fifths of earnings come from live events, while three-fifths come from publishing. However there has been a shift between conferences and exhibitions. Back in 2008, around 16 per cent of revenue came from exhibitions, but the figure has now risen to 26 per cent. “The publishing and events arms run as separate businesses but our events people look at the opportunities around them,” said Menzies-Gow. “For example our recent 30-year deal with Agrishow in Brazil – part of our pitch was based around our expertise in publishing.” But Informa has also taken the unusual and perhaps back-to-front approach of producing publications on the back of shows. “In Monte Carlo, we have the Anti-Ageing Medicine World Congress, the 11th edition of which was in April,” said Menzies-Gow. “On the back of that we launched Prime, an international journal of aesthetic and anti-aging medicine.” Informa strives for a balance between editorial and sales output. “It is very decentralised,” said Menzies-Gow. “Some shows are very protective of their turf. For example with our Vitafoods show in Geneva, which is a global nutraceutical event, we have a big section run by our data monitor business.” In its half-year results for the six months ended 30 June 2013, Informa’s events division reported an organic profit growth of 18.6 per cent. Informa had 147 large events in the first half of the year and also announced its exit from small conference businesses in Spain and Italy.Conclusion At the end of the last decade, events were a not insignificant, but still minor addition to the financial pot. Now they are a financial necessity, as more publishers not only realise the benefits of live events, but see it is one of the few ways to keep a handle on its customers, in the new digital landscape. This was first published in the October issue of EN. Any comments? E-mail exhibitionnews@mashmedia.net
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