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Friday, December 09, 2005

Ok...Advanstar Not For Sale Anymore 

DLJ Pulls Advanstar Off Block

Folio: reports that DLJ Merchant Banking Partners has pulled Advanstar off the market.

Grab: “It is pretty obvious that the seller had expectations that were not sustainable from what the market wanted to pay,” said Bob Krakoff.

UPDATE: Another take on the story, from BtoBOnline, can be found here.

Weird grab: Advanstar has also been a buyer in this robust year for M&A activity, strengthening its core properties in the fashion, life sciences and power sports markets. For example, in August it acquired for an undisclosed sum Project Trade Show, a series of fashion trade events. Separately, Advanstar acquired POOL, a 4-year-old fashion trade show for boutique-oriented products.

Undisclosed sum? See page 7 of Advanstar's most recent 10-Q. The Project Trade Show was acquired for $9.9 million in cash, with potential earnout payments. The Pool Trade show was acquired for $3 million in cash, with potential earnout payments. The details of a few other acquisitions over the past year are also included, as are details of divestitures on page 8.

Sloppy reporting, boys.


M&A Chatter 

Interesting little roundup piece on media M&A from Reuters, featuring Trader Publishing and Advanstar.

Key grabs:

Sources estimated DLJ now wants $950 million to $1 billion for Advanstar, but current bids are $50 million to $100 million lower.


...those sources say the auction appears likely to fail unless DLJ lowers its asking price.

According to my completely non-scientific method of tracking b2b media zeitgeist (which entails occasionally looking at the Google, Yahoo and MSN search queries people use to find this blog, and then wildly trying to surmise why people use search phrases like "fish are friends"...what are they really looking for?), searches for Advanstar have been especially hot over the past seven days.

But so have searches looking for information on 101communications, which is also on the block, albeit more quietly. Perhaps we'll have news on that front soon, as well?


E-Paper on Display 

Blog Gizmodo has pictures of an e-paper display in a Tokyo train station showing news stories updated via a wireless connection.

I can't wait to get my hands on a sample of this stuff. In fact, if any e-paper manufacturers would like to beta test the use of e-paper in a relatively short run magazine which reaches Fortune 1000 boards, I've got just the client for them.


Thursday, December 08, 2005

Google: Maybe a Little Competition? 

Presented without comment.

From The Seattle Post Intelligencer, via Bloomberg, via IWantMedia:

Prada, the Milan-based maker of $1,000 handbags, can target consumers through Google that are actively looking to make a purchase, while ads in magazines might not even be seen, said Jonathan Rosenberg, Google's vice president of product management.

Google ads next to search results for the term "Prada," a brand of Prada Holding NV, cost about 28 cents for each user that clicks on them, compared with about 10 cents to reach each reader of Vanity Fair, he said.

Okay, one comment: Fish are friends, not food!


B2B Company Names 

I've always had a mild distaste for brand-consultant-generated-sounding corporate names, both inside and outside publishing: Advanstar. Primedia. Access Intelligence. They're just...blah.

Here's a b2b media company name I like.


Advertising Where They Are 

Regular readers of this blog have been subjected to my recent thoughts (rants?) on how we'll reach the next generation of b2b buyers, who haven't grown up with the traditional media reference points that we (er, older folks) have.

These future buyers play video games as much to socialize and network as to cast spells and shoot digital bad guys. Their virtual worlds are as real as a trade show floor--if not more real, and probably more satisfying.

Marketers, of course, have noticed, and have begun to experiment with in-game advertising as this piece from the Boston Globe attests (Via IWantMedia). There's a good reason:

A study...concludes that people who view advertisements in video games have better brand recall, and in some cases are more likely to favorably change their opinion about a brand, than consumers who view television product placements.

The always-excellent GameDailyBiz offers some interesting analysis:

...the best in-game ads are there to enhance the realism of an already realistic experience. As game makers strive to further blur the lines between their created fictional world and the real world, advertising has become a bit of a stumbling block. Real-world cities are filled with advertising messages, so an ad-free virtual city can actually take gamers out of the immersive experience. Creating fake logos for fake companies has an equally jarring effect.


DoubleFusion founder and Executive Vice President Guy Bendov told GameDAILY BIZ in October that the extra care that must be taken to ensure the ads are an enriching experience is exactly what makes them more effective, in the end.

"I believe the response to in-game ads has been so much more positive than the response to advertising in other mediums because it doesn't interrupt or delay the experience," Bendov said. "In television for example, advertising stops the show. In-game ads are more like product placement on TV, which isn't seen in the negative light that commercials are."

Side note: As I prepare for my media-anthropology study of my nephew over the Christmas holiday, I was pleased to see that Jason Calacanis' blog empire has added a new channel focused on World of Warcraft. I'm trying to read up so that I don't come off as such a doofus to my nephew as he previews his media world for me.


Smart Bet 

Leading Horse Racing Media Brands Launch Ground-breaking Broadband Betting Venture

Whether or not you're into horse racing or betting, the alliance of a UK horse racing publisher and horse racing television channel, partnering with five bookmakers, for an online and 3G mobile phone broadcast service, is a smart media move (see link above for the press release).

Grab: The Betting Site, which is a joint venture between British horse racing's two pre-eminent media brands, has merged Racing Post's unrivalled bank of form, data and analysis with live coverage from 31 of the UK's leading racecourses that own Racing UK. The site will offer odds comparisons from nine different bookmakers and betting exchanges, form analysis, tips, and jockey colours. As well as being able to watch live action from over 4,000 races a year, users will be able to search for archive video clips by horse, jockey, or trainer from a searchable bank of footage from the last ten years.

And of course, you can place your bets on the site or on your phone.

What really caught my eye is the "bet to view" option. Live racing can be viewed through a monthly subscription, or by making a minimum 5 pound bet. Which is a really interesting way for b2b media companies to think about charging for access to content. What if you had a premium content option which could be susbcribed to, or accessed free by readers who bought something from your advertisers/sponsors?


Monday, December 05, 2005

A Shout Out to USC 

I usually (always?) leave the football posts to Rex Hammock. But it was a good weekend for the family Shaw, and for USC.

I grew up knowing a few things:

1. You root for SC's football team through thick and thin.
2. You hate Notre Dame.

Both points of knowledge were the result of my father, who earned his BA from USC and his MS from Purdue. Both schools have a to-the-death rivalry with Notre Dame.

I'm the family black sheep, I guess, having attended a public school which doesn't even have a football team. My sister made up for my lack of family collegiate spirit. And my nephew plans to transfer over.

As a via-family-honorary-alumnus, I say good one for USC--and for Texas. The Rose Bowl game ought to be a great one. Though we'll all be hoping my Dad doesn't pull a major coronary during the game (he tends to be a bit of a participatory spectator).


From the "Where Are They Now?" File 

Risks bring rewards, says US entrepreneur

Working for Ed Aster was...interesting.

I got to know Ed when Advanstar bought his Aster Publishing, and then named Ed the CEO of the combined company. I was a group publisher at the time, and ended up reporting to Ed. He was certainly, as the article linked above (on Ed's New Zealand ventures) notes, "smart, creative and even visionary...audacious, pushy - a bulldozer."

It was hard to work for Ed, but I learned a lot. And Ed took a chance on me, naming me a group vice president (my first b2b officer title). I owe him many thanks for that.

It's good to see Ed continuing to thrive as an entreprenuer. I'd lost track of him, and always wondered how he was doing. Apparently just fine, thank you.


What, When and How You Want It 

Digital Magazine Forum: Sum Up

Excellent post from PaidContent's Dorian Benkoil (linked above) with thoughts from the Digital Magazine Forum.

Key Grab:

It's about the technology inasmuch as it's about getting consumers what they want, when they want, how they want as easily as possible - something I'm not alone in saying. It's about getting them engaged and using whatever's easy and best, and performs well for advertisers. In a nutshell, that's Google. Still, consumers don't really care about Google. If someone comes along that gets them what they want faster, easier and/or better, they'll use it. Google is vulnerable. Microsoft is vulnerable. And they know it.

I'm not sure publishers do....They are still often locked in an "audited circulation" or "controlled circulation" mentality. Editorially, they're often locked into managing an environment, someone browsing their magazines, page by page.


We Got Yer Email 

My 18 year old nephew rarely uses email, but you can find him on IM. You can't find me on IM. There's a generational difference for you.

So, for all of you in my generation, if using an RSS feed reader, or pulling the feed of this blog into My Yahoo (or whatever your home page is), isn't working for you, you can get updates on this blog via email through FeedBlitz, by registering over on the right column.

Many thanks to Jeff Brown and Rich Westerfield for the tip.

Holiday note: My nephew will be joining us for Christmas (at least, for the few days--or hours--we can yank him away from his friends). He says that he'll show me how World of Warcraft works. I plan to set him in front of my computer and watch what he does, not only in the gaming world, but also in how he remains connected to his friends. I've noted before that, fairly soon, he'll be specifying architectural and building materials. I wonder how he'll be making his buying decisions, and what b2b media he'll consume. I'd guess that the format of that media will be something we don't have today.


Goofy Generation Tags, But... 

Rex Hammock doesn't like the BusinessWeek appellations Generation@ or the MySpace Generation. I concur, since the "naming" of a generation is a convenient way to compartmentalize a large group of people without having to truly understand them.

That said, I think there's good stuff in the BW article, and we'd better get rolling on trying to understand "the first cohort to grow up fully wired and technologically fluent." You can't compartmentalize this group--if you do, you'll be making a fairly substantial mistake. And I'll say it again, this group is going to be the next audience for our b2b products.

Some key grabs from the BusinessWeek article:

Although networks are still in their infancy, experts think they're already creating new forms of social behavior that blur the distinctions between online and real-world interactions. In fact, today's young generation largely ignores the difference. Most adults see the Web as a supplement to their daily lives. They tap into information, buy books or send flowers, exchange apartments, or link up with others who share passions for dogs, say, or opera. But for the most part, their social lives remain rooted in the traditional phone call and face-to-face interaction.


"Kids don't buy stuff because they see a magazine ad. They buy stuff because other kids tell them to."

Also worth a look is this article from Reuters on the XBox360. In it, David Hufford, group director of the Xbox 360 platform and games for Microsoft, does some compartmentalization himself by referring to the "digital generation."

Key grab:

Gamespot's Broady thinks the advanced Xbox 360 user will presage the entertainment consumer of the coming decades. "They're just a different kind of person than who we've been selling to all these years. That's the sign of things to come."


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