Fairfax in talks with international media firms amid plans to grow events division revenue

Andrew McEvoy high resFairfax’s events division is in talks with international media firms as it begins to look outside Australia for additional revenue streams, Mumbrella can reveal.

Discussions are at an early stage with a number of companies, with the creation of joint ventures to host events among the possibilities being explored.

Fairfax marketing services managing director Andrew McEvoy told Mumbrella expanding overseas could provide “commercial opportunities” for the events division as it pursues a target to triple annual revenue to $100 million over the next three years.

He said Fairfax could use its expertise at running events to help other media firms expand into the sector.

“There are media companies globally that don’t do what Fairfax does which is not just talk to an audience but run events,” McEvoy said. “We have content relationships with a number of those media companies around the world and we are in really early discussions with some of them about how we could joint venture or consult to them about building an event capacity within their business to reach an audience.

“It is really early days but I think Australians are good at events, this media company is quite good at events, so it’s potentially a commercial opportunity for Fairfax further down the track.”

He declined to reveal who the company was in talks with, but Fairfax has numerous content relationship deals with companies in the US, UK and Asia. “All media companies are looking for alternative sources of revenue,” McEvoy added.

Last year Fairfax signalled a focus on the events space was a key priority to bolster its revenues as digital advertising revenues fail to replace those of falling print contributions. However, the events revenue was not broken out at the company’s end of year financial results in August.

McEvoy described the $100m target as achievable, predicting that 70 per cent of the growth will be generated by expanding its existing events and 30 per cent through acquisition.

Fairfax announced last month it had acquired The Baby and Toddler Show from Single Market Events, with McEvoy saying it will use existing assets, such as its Essential baby and kids website, to grow the shows.

“We will rebrand the shows to Essential Baby and Toddler in Melbourne and Sydney and the potential there is to grow that franchise into other states were we have an audience,” he said.

“What we can hopefully do is grow audience numbers. Our Essential Baby and Kids website has one million unique users every month, it has a Facebook page of more than 250,000, and has a national audience. It is as well read in Perth as it is in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, so over time we could take that show further than just Sydney and Melbourne.

Fairfax“We could also capitalise on bringing higher level sponsors and partners to the event. Given that we are a media company we can help those partners not just activate at the event but get media coverage to an audience they are all trying to reach before and after the event, through native advertising.

“We bring media value as well as event value. We put a lot of effort into the build-up of an event in terms of marketing, not just in terms of our own inventory, but through partnership with Nova radio and Channel Seven so we can help clients get good exposure on our network and beyond.”

McEvoy said companies have “moved on” from simply putting their brand on an event and now want deeper involvement and engagement with an audience.

“The sum total of a brand’s exposure is a little bit before an event but mainly during the event itself. But I think companies have moved on from the logo slap of being the proud sponsor of an event. That’s where we can add value.

“There is a current set of partners we want to retain for the baby and toddler shows but between now and April, when the show is in Melbourne, we will work on bringing in some further corporate strength to give it a bigger profile. I see good growth. If we can bring in a bigger audience it’s more commercially valuable to the stand holders and to the commercial sector.”

McEvoy said Fairfax will also continue to take its Good Food Month to other locations around Australia while the creation of a new arts festival, Spectrum Now, will tap into the interests of its audience who read its Spectrum section.

He also identified its Noodle Night Markets as an area for growth, along with business events.

“Lots of cities want to build a night time economy,” he said. “Of all the 300,000 people who come to the Sydney night markets, apart from what they spend at noodles they are spending about $50 on other retailers.

“We have also got real strength in the business space, with franchises like Westpac Women of Influence and the Macquarie Future Forums. We do quite a lot of little things, but we want to do fewer bigger and better.”

Expos, exhibitions and larger scale conferences are all on the agenda.

“We’ve had a really good at the landscape and there are things we are interested in and starting to pursue,” McEvoy said.

Steve Jones


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