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  • Antony Reeve-Crook

The exhibitor IS the story

It’s no surprise that many of the world’s exhibition organisers grew out of publishers. They both share and cater for an audience in similar ways, and their revenue model revolves around selling space.

They try to keep the audience interested for as long as possible, producing high dwell times and increasing the chance of the audience seeing the advertisers, or exhibitors, who have paid to be on display.

Magazines do this by changing pace with their articles, they offer fast facts and deep dive content, much as organisers do with their show floor ‘beacons’ and points of interest, and educational sessions.

“For me, the future industry model is this: Content is what we are ultimately out there to produce. We are in the value-added attendee content provider business. All media, all formats,” Francis Friedman told the audience at the UFI European Conference in May.

But the main difference between the two is that adverts in a magazine are largely a branding exercise. With trade shows, the exhibitor is the story.

“All we do is to produce content that attendees want to consume. The education programme is obviously content, but so are the exhibitors,” said Friedman.

Today technology allows us to magnify the appeal of this content, and to bring in larger audiences and readerships than ever. It helps us to connect not just buyers and sellers but geographic and industrial ecosystems, and to attract an entirely new audience of buyers and sellers.

This new audience is key to the industry’s growth and success. But rather than try to understand this new audience, making our marketing more effective, we should be working with them. Initiatives such as the UFI NGL Grant help give fresh talent prominence, and as Björn Kempe points out in this edition, we are seeing an influx of younger execs in China and Germany – helping us to capture an audience that they themselves belong to.

The Latest Exhibition World hits desks this week, great contributors waxing lyrical on new audiences, AI, security, emerging markets, Las Vegas, Asia and Verona. Big thanks to #eventprofs including @kaihattendorf @Matthias_Tesi, @BjoernKempe @choieddie

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