Last October, I had the blessing (or, depending on how you look at it, the misfortune) of having the The Folio: Show fall during my very first week with Folio: as a timid associate editor, new both to New York and the magazine business in general.
A baptism by fire, for sure, but also an unparalleled opportunity to gain months' and years' worth of expertise, insight, and wisdom from some of the industry's most influential figures.
In some ways, the knowledge I gained over three days last October makes me living proof of the power of The Folio: Show and a conference program that gathers such premier talent from all sides of the industry.
Since then, I've spent the last 10 months educating myself on the industry, immersing myself in all of the latest developments, trends, and innovations in magazine media and speaking with the unbelievably intelligent and multi-talented professionals who put them into action.
If you thought last year's conference was powerful, you're in for a treat this November.
Alongside many of the same topic areas from last year's show, such as the tracks on Content and Marketing and the Folio: Forums, we've added a dedicated Events track to the 2016 program.
A Major Growth Center
This probably does not surprise you, especially if you come from the business-to-business side of the industry. Events have long been recognized as a massive growth area for publishers, but the extent to which trade shows and conferences have engulfed revenues — and the rate at which they continue to do so — is at times astounding.
In a December 2015 survey conducted by Folio: and Hallmark Data Services, events were cited as the second fastest growing revenue stream for publishers — behind only digital advertising. According to Folio:'s own data in separate surveys conducted in 2004 and again in 2014, events have nearly doubled as a percentage of overall revenues for B2B media companies, from 8.4 percent in 2004 to 15.6 percent in 2014. Even in the consumer space, where events make up a less significant percentage of revenues, they've more than doubled — from 2.5 percent in 2004 to six percent in 2014.
Last month, I spoke with Jeff Hennessy, chairman and CEO of HMP Communications Holdings, which operates in the healthcare space and has been explicit about its plans to pivot toward events. I asked Jeff, simply, why events are such an attractive revenue stream for publishers.
"The event business is a wonderful business," said Hennessy. "It’s proven, well-established, and it's got its own ecosystem. It’s wonderfully diversified when you think about attendee revenue, sponsorship revenue, advertising revenue, exhibitor revenue — and, in the education business, you also have grant support."
Obviously, HMP is far from alone in pivoting towards events. More than 80 percent of UBM's overall revenues now stem from live events, according to the company, which claims a profit margin of 30 percent from the trade show business. Similarly, Vendome Group's founder and CEO, Jane Butler, told me in January that her company's events business has grown "exponentially" and that it now accounts for 40 percent of overall revenue.
As is often the case, parallels can be seen on the consumer-facing side of the industry, where diversifying the revenue mix is often not just key to thriving, but to surviving. This year alone, titles such as Complex, ESPN The Magazine, Runner's World, Sports Illustrated, and Yoga Journal have made significant investments in events as powerful brand extensions, joining existing players like Atlantic Media, Bloomberg Media, Outside, New York Media, and Taste of Home, and even more in the city/regional and association spaces.
Learn from the Experts
If that's not compelling enough, consider the impressive faculty of speakers we've assembled for the events track.
The Atlantic's Margaret Low Smith, Light Reading founder Stephen Saunders, and New York Media's Dan Jasper kick things off with a Tuesday morning panel titled "Expanding Your Brand into Live Events." That afternoon, Kerry Smith, the founder of Event Marketer magazine, and UBM's portfolio director, Robyn Duda, will speak on creating the optimal on-site experience.
A total of eight individual sessions make up the events-focused portion of this year's Folio: Show program, with a well-rounded selection of additional speakers representing Garden & Gun, PMMI Media Group, AC Business Media, Greentech Media, SheKnows Media, and Northstar Travel Media, among several others.
I hope to see you in November!
To view the full Folio: Show program, receive more information about the show, or to register, click here.