Print is (near) dead, trade shows are on life support
Most people know that I ran DV magazine, DV Expo, and the like, for ten years. From there I went on to AV Video, and with the help of a very talented team, turned that into Studio Monthly and StudioDaily.com. Back in the day each of those magazines were easily doing 160+ pages per issue, with about 60% of those pages going to advertising. Yes, because they are trade publications and offer free subscriptions to those that can fog up a glass, um qualify, they run their business from advertising. Creating an editorial environment that can separate advertising form editorial (also know as Church and State), proved to be a challenge, but always paid off in the end.
The world has changed. Publishing has changed, and the models that support a successful publishing business have also changed. Many of my favorite magazines in this market, and others, are no longer able to deliver what they used to. It’s not their fault, there isn’t enough ad revenue to support it. The lack of advertising supporting print means that there are ultimately fewer pages to read. As a publisher you may only get 12 issues a year, and of course you need to cover everything. When times and markets were flush with cash, you simply printed more pages and made the 2 page review, a 4-5 page review. Gone are those days, at least in print.
Online of course is much different, we can electronically “print” another page at will, without the printing, postage and associated costs of ink, etc. If a review needs to be 12 pages long, it can be without costing and arm and a leg. In fact, multiple online pages provide more advertising inventory by allowing for more page loads.
Trade shows, and the need for a new model
Print is not alone in it’s death throws. Apple passed on NAB last year, and Avid has done the same. As of today we learn that Apple will now pass on MacWorld for 2010. In fact, according to a statement from Apple released today, this upcoming MacWorld will have Phil Schiller delivering the address, and that means that days of Steve delivering “One more thing…”, are past us.
What does this all mean?
I for one, bet that this signals that Apple will have powerful news this year at MacWorld. It’s one thing if Steve failed to deliver on exciting new products we all hoped for, but with Phil now leading the charge, I’d bet that he’ll be given some great new products to share with the world for his first time out of the gate. Take our minds off of missing Steve at least for a moment. Geez, bring me a new version of Final Cut Studio, a new 30″ LCD, a new 17″ MacBook Pro, and my personal dream…an iPod Touch in the form factor of 7″ diagonal with full Mac OS capabilities…Steve who?
So what model works for trade shows moving forward? Trade shows brought many things to users and vendors alike. For one, we could all have hands-on with the tools vendors we’re selling. Nothing like comparing the feel of a shoulder mounted camera in person, then ordering from (insert your favorite retailer here). Besides being able to touch and ogle, you could always speak directly to the product managers. Ask deep questions, and rub elbows with mucky mucks. Of course, you could also stand in line for an hour at the RED booth just for fun. Perhaps the biggest benefit of trade shows, besides being away from the office for a while, is networking. Whether it be at a vendor booth, restaurant, bar or cab line, networking always just works at trade shows, and is priceless. I am actually going to miss it. Can’t believe I just wrote that!
Wait a minute. Online I can network via forums and comments. I don’t have to get on a plane, be away from my family, eat crappy trade show food, or stand in line for anything.
Often I can reach out and chat directly with product managers (hint…coming soon to PVC), and learn from the experts first hand.
So in the future, if Apple and others continue to remove themselves form the trade show space, I figure I can still get most of the best of what trade shows have to offer. Perhaps rather than go to MacWorld in 2010, I will stand in front of my computer, eat a terrible hamburger and charge myself $11 for the privilege. I’ll iChat a few friends in the industry, and caress my screen as it peruses the digital Apple store. Hmmmm…maybe not.