The Top 3 Integration Trade Media Groups Were All Acquired in Last 12 Months

Trade media graphicJust What the Heck is Going On Here?

On Tuesday we learned that select properties of EH Media – owner of CEPro, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales & Integration, Campus Safety and others – had been acquired by Emerald Expositions (the new owner of the CEDIA Expo). Earlier this year, U.K.-based Future plc, a global media company, acquired U.S.-based NewBay Media – parent of Residential Systems, Sound & Video Contractor, AVTechnology and others. And almost exactly one year ago, IFA – producer of the largest consumer electronics trade show in the world (held in Europe) – “partnered” or acquired a significant stake in NAPCO Media’s consumer technology division – parent of Dealerscope, Technology Integrator, and Connected Design.

So that’s three of the top custom integration trade media companies all acquired within the last 12 months. What the heck is going on here?

It’s crazy days in the CI trade media world…




There is really no way to know for certain just what the motivations were for all of these transactions – we can only speculate. On the face of it, they seem quite similar. But actually, there are factors that distinguish each of these transactions…while a common thread does run through them. What is that common thread? They all produce shows of one sort or another.

First of all you should know that all of this turmoil of trade publishing in our little custom integration part of the world is a reflection of an overall difficult business environment for all publishing companies in general. Although from time-to-time I have had “acquirees” suggest to me that being acquired means you are a property of high value…in fact, this amount of turmoil is more likely an indication of a contracting industry going through a major consolidation.

Seemingly Similar, These Deals Have Significant Differences

Second of all, there is a significant difference between these deals. While NewBay media was acquired by a global media company, both the EH Media and NAPCO Media deals represent media companies being acquired by an exposition company. In both cases, EH Media produces their own show, the Total Tech Summit, and NAPCO Media has CE Week & Future Vision shows.

From the Future plc website – a selection of some of the media brands they offer

Many media companies have turned to events as a way to fuel greater revenues. But it can be a tricky dance. For a show to be successful, it needs significant publicity support, ideally from a wide range of media outlets. In fact, some have criticized CEDIA for not attracting more media beyond the usual trade media suspects…limiting the visibility and impact of the show.

The Slippery Slope of Show Promotion




But when a media company owns a show – or perhaps, a show owns a media company – competitive media groups aren’t likely to support it. We saw this back when EH Media ran their own EHX shows (which are now defunct). Most of the other media groups didn’t attend it, let alone promote it. You can understand why, human nature dictates that you DON’T help your competitors take more money out of the market.

Will this become a factor with say, CEPro now the house media company behind CEDIA Expo? This is an open question. In any event with this acquisition, Emerald now has their own voice to control and communicate their message to the market.

Interestingly, CEPro founding editor Julie Jacobson mused on this topic herself in an article explaining why she is “Psyched” to be acquired by Emerald Expositions. In this piece she seeks to clear the air about a question she suspects many are asking.

“I know your first question, so let’s just get it out of the way: Will CE Pro become a puff publication, a pawn of Emerald to promote CEDIA Expo and convince integrators to attend their other events like KBIS, the Kitchen & Bath Show.”

“In a word: No. That would bore me to tears…”Emerald Expositions website

Will Everything Stay the Same? Most Likely…No




She then goes on to say everyone associated with EH is staying and nothing is going to change. I’m sure she is sincere in expressing this sentiment. However, as someone who has been involved on the business side of the acquisition business, I can tell you that acquirers always say nothing is going to change. Yet almost every time, many things change.

And this fact makes sense. When  Ken Moyes purchased Electronic House and launched the publishing company that would go on to become EH Media, he had his agenda and with his team built their company as it exists today around that agenda. But in the world of business, it is almost always true that the “Golden Rule” applies. In this case, that means “he with the gold, rules.” And now, he with the gold is Emerald Expositions. They have their own agenda and the team at CEPro and the other acquired EH properties now answer to this new master. It’s possible nothing will change…but more likely, there will be changes.

Another thing to consider in the case of both EH Media and NAPCO Media, the exposition companies who purchased them may have done so to acquire their market knowledge. In the case of Emerald Expositions, even though they currently own 55 trade shows, CEDIA is their first specialty technology holding. Certainly, CE Pro editors and reporters have the knowledge and can help them get a good grip on the integration channel.

One Potential Motivation…Knowledge

This is also true in the case of IFA with their decision to purchase NAPCO Media. In this case, IFA knows the consumer electronics market, but only as seen through the lens of Europe, where their show takes place. NAPCO brings insight into the U.S. tech business, potentially helping them further expand into this lucrative market and diversifying their business geographically.IFA website

Future plc makes no bones about the fact that their purchase of NewBay Media was to increase their penetration of the U.S. market. Future also noted some synergy between the two companies as NewBay offers several Pro and MI brands that are compatible with similar brands in the Future stable.

So did Emerald Expositions acquire EH Media for their Total Tech Summit? Did IFA acquire NAPCO Media for the CE Week show? Does Emerald Expositions want to acquire a deeper understanding of the specialty technology business? Does IFA need more intelligence on the U.S. consumer electronics market? What does the future hold for NewBay now that they are owned by Future plc? [Note to marketing team, if I’m NewBay/Future, I change the slogan to “We are the Future.”]

These are all great questions…the answers to which will be revealed over time. We will be watching…

 

Learn all about Emerald Expositions by visiting: www.emeraldexpositions.com.

See more on Future plc by going to: www.futureplc.com.

What is IFA all about? Learn more at: www.b2b.ifa-berlin.com.




Comments

The Top 3 Integration Trade Media Groups Were All Acquired in Last 12 Months — 2 Comments

  1. Hi Ted – Just one correction/fact I would like to point out. You stated “..when a media company owns a show – or perhaps, a show owns a media company – competitive media groups aren’t likely to support it. We saw this back when EH Media ran their own EHX shows (which are now defunct). Most of the other media groups didn’t attend it, let alone promote it.” Nothing could be further from the truth. As the person responsible for EHX sales back in the day, I can tell you first hand that EHX had the support and participation of all media outlets at the time (Residential Systems, SDM, NAPCO’s offering at the time, etc.). There were ads and stories about the event in all of the publications. We went out of our way to develop those partnerships and relationships because that was what we needed to do to grow the event (even though they were competitors to CE Pro at the time). Regardless of the industry you are in, if you rely on just one publication to promote your event (even if you owned that publication), you would be dead in the water.

    • Hi George – Thanks for your comment. It appears that my memory may have been a little hazy. As you may recall, I attended most, if not all, of the EHX events. As a member of the media, I do not recall running into any other media there (other than the intrepid CE Pro team). Yet at most other shows, I run into and interact with a lot of other media all the time. One of the reasons I was so diligent about attending EHX, is that I felt like I was the only one reporting from the show floor and could use my EHX reporting to help differentiate my website’s coverage and build my then-fledgling audience way back then.

      I also had not recalled seeing coverage – outside of the great job CEPro (and other EH Media brands) did with their coverage. At least not from any other media one would consider a primary resource for custom integrators. My assumption for this was for the reason stated in my post, and I did have some conversations with competitive media folks that led me to believe that to be the reason.

      However, since receiving your comment, I checked a couple industry archives. I was able to locate a handful of stories about EHX on other media. To be fair, these were mostly bylined as by “Staff” and appeared to be predominantly written from press releases from exhibiting companies, and not original reporting from the show floor itself. But nonetheless, the fact that I found any coverage makes your point.

      So I am sorry for that overstatement. No disrespect was intended to either you or EH Media, or to any of the other media whom I failed to credit for their coverage.

      Thanks again…and thanks for reading!

      Ted

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