Questex Acquires U.K. Event Business
Questex Media Group has acquired U.K.-based McLean Events International Ltd., a company that specializes in appointment-based events with 13 branded events throughout the U.K., Europe, Middle East, North American and Asia.
Founded in 1996, McLean’s events include a number of international forums including:
- HOTEC: A series of three-day forums held in North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East which consist of pre-scheduled appointments of members of the global hospitality industry. HOTEC joins Questex’s HotelWorld Network which includes Hotel & Motel Management, Hotel Design and Luxury Hotelier magazines and events like the HotelWorld Expo and the International Hotel Investment Forum.
- SPATEC: A series of three-day forums held in North America, U.K. and Europe which consists of one-on-one meetings of members of the spa industry. SPATEC will be closely aligned with Quesxtex’s American Spa magazine and its International Esthetics Cosmetics and Spa Conferences.
- CONFEC: A series of one-on-one forums held in the U.K and Europe focusing on the convention, conferences, meetings and incentive industries.
- SIBEC: A series of one-on-one meeting forums held in the U.K., Europe and North American for members of the healthy, recreation, sports and fitness industry.
CondeNet Officially Launches Flip.com
Conde Nast’s Internet division, CondeNet, launched a new MySpace-like teen site for girls called Flip.com Tuesday. The social networking site allows members to create and share customizable, Flash-based multimedia scrapbooks, called Flipbooks, by uploading their own content or incorporating content from the site.
The site is free to members. The advertising model does not present advertising in or around the flipbooks, however advertisers do get banner placements in certain areas of the site and provide sponsored material (graphics, logos and photography) in a pre-populated library of graphic elements for use when creating a Flipbook. While those ad-supported elements may not be readily identifiable as, say, a branded product from launch sponsor Nike, clicking on the element within the Flipbook will lead the user to an advertiser site. "We really felt like we didn’t want to commercialize the girls’ work," says CondeNet spokeswoman Jennifer Miller.
And, according to Miller, members also have the option to choose a sponsor for their member home page. "It’s a pull versus push method. They’re pulling everything they want from an advertising perspective," says Miller.
Advertisers currently participating in the launch include Clean & Clear, Nike, Nordstrom, PacSun, and Vera Wang Princess.
Flip.com is divided into four channels called My Life, Entertainment, Style, and The World. Each of the sections pulls in editorial as well as member generated content.
While the site’s home page indicates it’s still in beta mode, Miller says that’s more of a remnant of its soft launch in December last year when 200,000 girls were invited to test the site’s functionality.
Watt Publishing Joins Integrated Media Cooperative
Integrated Media Cooperative, a volume purchasing and information-sharing organization made up of independent small to-medium-sized publishers including Ascend Media, Edgell Communications and Lebhar Friedman, has expanded its roster to 15 members with the addition of Illinois-based Watt Publishing.
Watt publishes 14 b-to-b publications, Web sites, electronic products, and events in the agrifood and woodworking markets. "As the economy cycles toward a growth period the cost saving afforded us via the Integrated Media Cooperative will allow us to invest those savings in growing the company," Watt president and CEO Gregg Watt said in a statement.
Founded in March 2005, IMC allows members to collaborate with suppliers of goods and services to achieve reduced competition, greater than average growth, reduced marketing costs, and open communication and information flow. The cooperative represents about 500 magazines with over $500 million in annual revenues. "We are very excited to add Watt to our membership," said Bill Walker, the organizations president and CEO. "Their international expertise will help all our members as they expand to international markets."
Inc.com and FastCompany.com Report Audited Traffic Figures
Mansueto Ventures LLC-owned Inc.com and FastCompany.com, the two business Web sites of Inc. and Fast Company have released their first quarterly audited traffic numbers. The report, which is audited by ABC’s online unit ABCi, analyzes one month’s traffic per quarter.
Inc.com and FastCompany.com received 674,257 and 717,415 unique visitors in the month of October 2006 respectively. Inc.com had a confirmed total of 4,706,695 page views during the month, while FastCompany.com saw 2,250,772 page views.
Both sites have posted the results of the audit on their respective advertising pages. The release of the audited traffic numbers is the result of a decision made last year by Mansueto in response to calls for industry transparency made by brand marketers.
American Media Again Blames Star for Its Financial Woes
Tabloid publisher, American Media Inc. once again blamed its financial woes on Star, saying soft newsstand sales for the tabloid was the primary reason its EBITDA declined in the fourth quarter of last year to $21.5 million, down from $23.9 million in the same period a year earlier.
In a filing made Friday with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company, which has struggled for almost a year to meet financial restatement deadlines set by its note holders, also said it may not be able "to generate sufficient cash flow" to meet its obligations under the terms of its senior credit facility and bond indentures. AMI is currently carrying about $1 billion in long-term debt.
According to the filing, the company had $56 million in cash on its balance sheet and a fully drawn revolver of $60 million as of December. AMI says it developed an action to plan, to be implemented this quarter, that will enhance cash flow and allow the company to make all of its required interest payments. It says the plan should help the company realize $19.4 million in cost savings and $17.2 million in revenue enhancements this year.
AMI last released complete financial statements in November 2005. The company has had its bond rating lowered by Moody’s Investor Services due to its high debt-load and its failure to show a return on the investments it’s made in the past three years in the revamping of Star magazine, and its 2003, $350 million purchase of the Weider Fitness publications.
To help with its new focus on its core magazines, which also included the National Enquirer, AMI said last year it would sell three of its Weider titles, Muscle & Fitness, Muscle & Fitness Hers and Flex, as well as music title, Country Weekly and Latin publication Mira! Although bids were expected to close on the publications in the third quarter of last year, the company has yet to broker a deal. An American Media employee told Folio: Alert the company has been mum as to whether a sale will take actually place on the publications.
Nielsen Co. to Merge with NetRatings
The Nielsen Co., formerly VNU, has entered into an agreement to acquire NetRatings Inc., an Internet media and marketing company, of which the Neilsen Co. already owns 60 percent. Nielsen will acquire the remaining 40 percent of NetRatings at a price of $21 per share for a total purchase price of about $327 million.
NetRatings board of directors approved the merger unanimously following the recommendation and approval of an independent special committee of the board. The transaction price represents a 44.1 percent premium over NetRatings’ closing price on October 6 of last year. The merger is expected to close in the second quarter of the year. The Nielsen Co. is home to ACNielsen and Nielsen Media Research, best known for their TV ratings data, as well as the b-to-b magazines Billboard, Hollywood Reporter, Adweek, Mediaweek and others.
The Nielsen//NetRatings portfolio includes panel-based and site-centric Internet audience measurement services, online advertising intelligence, user lifestyle and demographic data, e-commerce and transaction metrics, and custom data, research and analysis.
Reader’s Digest Shareholders Approve Merger
Shareholders of the Reader’s Digest Association Friday approved the $2.4 billion sale of the company to a private investment group led by Ripplewood Holdings LLC.
The company said about 81 percent of outstanding shares voted in favor of the deal, which was announced in November and is expected to close later this month.
Wasserstein Completes Transactions with Penton, MidOcean Partners
Wasserstein & Co. and MidOcean Partners have completed their acquisition of Penton Business Media and closed on the deal that gives MidOcean 50 percent ownership of the new company formed by the merger of Penton and Prism Business Media.
The new company will operate under the Penton brand (unified branding is expected to begin March 15) and be headquartered in New York. The company’s portfolio includes 113 trade magazines, 145 Web sites, 96 industry trade shows and conferences and more than 500 information data products.
Financing sources for the Penton transaction, valued at $530 million, include UBS, J. P. Morgan Securities Inc. and GE Commercial Finance. DeSilva & Phillips and UBS provided financial advisory services to Wasserstein & Co.
Nielsen Business Media Taps Cambruzzi Marketing for Custom Media
Nielsen Business Media’s The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard brands have appointed Cambruzzi Marketing to handle sales and marketing for its custom media products in the home entertainment and consumer categories. The company will also represent Nielsen’s online sales efforts in the home entertainment industry.
Smithsonian Launches Web Site
The Smithsonian Institution, publisher of Smithsonian magazine has launched a new Web site called gosmithsonian.com that allows travelers in the Washington D.C. area to access information on the region’s tourist attractions, including 19 Smithsonian museums. The site, which was formerly MySmithsonian.com also features a downloadable version of the newly redesigned printed booklets which can also be picked up at any of the museum’s information desks.
The site also features an interactive itinerary that helps users add the museums and events found online to their own itinerary, adjusting for museum hours and overlaps of concurrent events and programs. Printable floor plans, maps and schedules are also available. The site also locates hotels, shopping, transportation and dining options and a booking engine for travel accommodations. A community area allows visitors to share stories and recommendations as well as personal photographs from their travel experiences.
Citigroup Pursuits Magazine Retains RMS Media Group For U.S. Sales
Custom publishing firm RMS Media Group has been selected as the sole agent for advertising sales in the U.S. for Citigroup Pursuits magazine, a quarterly lifestyle publication for private clients of Citigroup’s Global Wealth Management division, which includes Smith Barney and the Citigroup Private Bank.