B-to-B media sets sights on data, information services deals
June 12, 2012 - While b-to-b media deals were up slightly in first quarter 2012 (nine deals valued at $36 million), M&A with database and information services saw sharp increases for the same period, up 83 percent with 20 deals worth nearly $4 billion (driven in large part by the $3.3 billion TransUnion take-private by Advent International and GS Partners), according to the Jordan, Edmiston Group.
The b-to-b media category has seen a flurry of recent acquisitions and partnerships with data/market research companies, designed to extend resources to current audiences as well as blaze new trails into new categories.
McGraw-Hill is said to be one of the final bidders for oil and gas researcher Wood Mackenzie, which would complement McGraw-Hill’s Platt’s business, which offers news and data to the energy industry. The offer for Wood Mackenzie is estimated at $1.7 billion. In recent weeks, both Penton and Questex made extensions into data and business information services. Penton teamed with REIS Inc., a provider of commercial real estate market information and analytical tools, to offer Reis content and data to audiences for Penton’s National Real Estate Investor brands, as well as collaborate on webinars. Questex recently acquired Ataway Exchange, a community network and conference aimed at marketing and technology executives in the travel industry. The goal is to offer a line of digital consulting services and paid content services offering market research, market analysis and best practices.
With print ad revenue streams challenged in many b-to-b media categories, new digital media rivals emerging (and further depressing ad rates) and the evolution of the influencer advisor market, b-to-b players are repositioning themselves to capitalize on those vertical relationships, in some areas moving toward paid communities that offer exclusive access to peer-to-peer networking, premium content and original research (such as GigaOM Pro and UBM’s HDI).
“These combined forces can make for a rather challenging environment for CEOs to easily take decisive action,” says John Wickersham, partner at Atwood Capital Partners. “Despite this, like no other time in recent history, we believe relative non-action will result in static or even potentially declining B2B media value. In other words, I see inaction to be associated with a ‘bad move.’ On the other hand, pursuit of successfully orchestrated forward-thinking strategies will more likely reward a b-to-b player with an assignment of premium value ... a ‘good move.’ Generally speaking, at Atwood, we advocate more for core market focus strategies and then diversification of information products and services within the core markets chosen. As more b-to-b leaders may see this way, I anticipate that we will be seeing an accelerating number of targeted acquisitions, alliances, divestitures and even asset swaps.”
Sidebar: Nine ways b-to-b media can achieve more value
At ABM’s recent Annual Conference, John Wickersham, partner at Atwood Capital Partners, offered nine ways b-to-b media companies can drive more value. “As CEOs think about M&A opportunities, internal development and partnerships, our team feels it is healthy to keep these points of focus in mind,” said Wickersham.
Those points include:
- Be more than just an intermediary
- Choose core market(s).
- Divest non-core market(s).
- Become data driven.
- Obsessively investigate market workflow.
- Truly integrated digital information drives real value.
- Track audience behavior.
- Quality technology partnerships can accelerate transformation.
- Adopt a global perspective.
By Matt Kinsman