Observations from the World Publishing Expo 2015
The World Publishing EXPO took place in Germany last week and for the first time we were there to experience it as an exhibitor. In case you hadn’t heard of it before, the World Publishing EXPO is one of the largest events in the news publishing calendar. A conference where publishers come to learn from others in the industry, coupled with a large EXPO where they can meet existing and potential suppliers.
This year it was held in the Hanseatic port of Hamburg in Northern Germany, home to one of the most alternative football clubs in Europe, FC St Pauli (the club flag sports a skull and crossbones), the infamous Reeperbahn, and more than 2,300 bridges, none of which I saw during my time there!
So what did I take away from the EXPO?
- Circulation revenue has become king again.
I learnt many things but this fact was the most interesting of the lot. According to WAN IFRA’s World Press Trends Report, print and digital circulation revenue has now overtaken print and digital advertising revenue for the first time since the turn of the century, $92bn vs. $86bn. A really interesting development which means that the focus of the publisher on the reader is now arguably greater than on the advertiser.
- Importance of data in the newsroom.
There were over 30 seminars and presentations over 3 days, covering everything from “how to choose a CRM system” to “native advertising” as well as “trends in news media and journalism”. The topic that most caught my eye however was the use of data in the newsroom to optimise content. Technology has certainly thrown up all sorts of challenges for publishers over the past few years however it has also enabled them to create a stronger connection with their readers. In the context of digital subscriptions – digital circulation revenues have increased by 45 percent in 2014 – the relationship with subscribers is more dynamic and more important than ever. If content doesn’t resonate with the reader, editorial teams now have the means to alter, tweak and adjust as they see fit.
- Growth in products and services for the publishing sector.
A total of 209 exhibitors from 22 countries made their way to the EXPO this year, mirroring the truly global nature of the event. Not including ourselves, there were 33 new exhibitors, attempting to catch the eye of those all important decision-makers. Exhibitors ranged from self-serve ad creation solutions providers such as Adwonce, to mobile app publishing platforms such as Pugpig, and OwnLocal which uses technology to create new revenue streams by converting print ads into digital marketing campaigns. Never before have publishers had so many choices (or dilemmas!) for potential solutions to their business needs. Deciphering what is relevant, what is important, what is going to give ultimate value, is the tricky part.
- Lang lebe Techno!
It may just be the nature of hectic family life, what with my kids exposing me to highly dangerous levels of Taylor Swift but I had somehow forgotten about this genre of music. I can report that the techno scene is alive and well in Hamburg. Just thought it was worth mentioning in case you ever wanted to visit the city!
If you are a publisher looking to gain insight into practices in other markets, or to simply network with peers, or even to speak to solutions providers, I can thoroughly recommend the World Publishing EXPO. We are already looking forward to being a part of it in the beautiful city of Vienna next year.