We have all had to deal with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Here is how Annex Business Media adapted to the unexpected disruption to their business model caused by Covid-19. Annex, the largest B2B publisher in Canada with over 64 B2B tittles and produces 35 industry events like conferences, trade shows, webinars and table top events. Well all their events are now cancelled and they had to quickly rethink this source of revenue.
The last market disruption that spurred the virtual event concept was 9/11 when the Virtual Trade Show concept was born. This was a naive attempt to replicate the trade show model online and was definitely a case of over promise from tech vendors. But online meetings started to flourish. companies like “ Go to Meeting” emerged to serve this space and is now a common business tool for sales staff. Webinars emerged as an effective tool to provide awareness for a company’s brand story and lead generation.
Scott Jamieson, COO of Annex Business Media decided to re-invent the company’s events model to a virtual conference. They adopted a 2.5 hour online conference model with a series of speakers. Below is a video from one of the conferences for Talent Canada for their Back to Work Virtual Summit held on May 27. The audience engagement for their virtual events saw good attendance, including USA visitors with one attracting over 300 people. They have done four so far for Talent Canada, Canadian Security, Canadian Manufacturing Online, and Firefighting and right now they are free to attend.
The webinar conference model is a viable tool for lead generation for companies in this digital age as face to face contact the epitome of relationship building to help your business grow is not available. Dennis Kelly, a media expert says the media mix which surrounds us is ever evolving and while platforms change, so do the users. We have an amazing adaptability to change and utilize the new tools to carve out a new reality, that includes an endless stream of measurement tools that monitor every waking, and probably sleeping moment. So it looks like we will all have to adapt the the online conference model, schools are doing this with on-line learning and the rest of the world is following suit.
Ok Lets pick up now to the turn of the new century, we found out that the Y2K scare became a non-incident, but we started to see the side effects of this new information highway as some very disruptive and some down right evil things started to evolve like a virus mutating.
This stage of the decade the music industry was the first casualty of the internet as music become digital and the adoption of mp3 music players gathered up steam. Sites like Napster that offered a free music sharing service reached 26 million users during its brief existence and was very disruptive for the music industry. People can now get music for free during this time. When Apple introduced the iPod/iTunes in 2001, we started to see a new business model emerge as Apple entered the music distribution business and as we all know how widely successful that became.
The turn of the century was the start of the decline of the newspaper ad revenue through sites like Craigs List that offered free ads. Sites like Monster.com also directed a second blow to the newspaper industry for Help wanted ads. Kijiji another FREE ad website was launched in 2005 to further take a bite out newspapers ad pie. You can best describe the newspaper industry during this decade as a deer frozen while staring at headlights with doom on the horizon.
The Growth of the Ad Tech Sector
Social media became the new buzzword in this decade for personal websites as you can now get one for free from sites like Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter. The Free economy started to gather momentum as everything was free on the internet like video calling through Skype, Google Maps and YouTube for online video streaming. Search Engines like Google used the free content provided online as part as their business model for their Ad Sense Ad Network launched in 2003 and the Ad Tech sector was born.
In 2007 the iPhone and Kindle book reader were launched and the Kindle started off a storm of innovation for book publishing as the Kindle reader allowed Amazon to sell digital editions of their books. The iPhone combined all the benefits of a iPod, cell phone and PDA into one device and was labeled a smartphone. The Android smartphone was launched in 2008 and was supported by Samsung and other major hardware vendors to compete against Apple. Android is an open source software and Google helped create it and it is free to use.
During this time mobile networks were 3G that provided good internet download speeds so the internet became mobile now. The launched of the smartphone created an “APP” gold rush as companies released apps for this new digital storefront provided by iTunes and Google Play for software app like games, magazine, newspapers, social media, and e-commerce flooded the market.
Further industry disruptions continued later in the decade, in 2008, with AirBnb (home sharing) and Uber (car sharing) jump started the shared economy model where individuals could share their home/car online for a fee. AirBnb has disrupted the rental housing market and hotel stays in some cities and Uber left a trail of destruction for the taxi industry in each city it started business in. Digital currency was invented in 2008, called Bitcoin and today there is a digital currency gold rush based on this innovation.
Another disruption for the financial markets emerged as companies could now raise seed funding for their products instead of banks through Kickstarter. In the automotive industry, Telsla an electric car with an onboard computer was launched in 2003 to pave the way to marry computer AI technology for self driving cars that has caused a wave of development in the car industry. The jury is still out to see where this innovation will lead us to everyday use of self driving cars as the safety promises of self driving cars are in serious doubt with accidental deaths.
Digital marketing became fashionable with the content marketing model being used to distribute messages on social media channels. This was part of the the growth of a new industry - Ad Tech. The industry’s pitch branded content/advertorial to advertisers because readers like to click on articles and more the clicks on articles the better the search engine rankings and thus more traffic to your website. This spawn concepts like native advertising ad networks and banner ad farms. This industry used advertising as their primary revenue model and sometimes would show 20 ads for one article view on ad farms sites and the content for these articles tended to be sensational like tabloid journalism.
A side effect of this development was the use of fake stoires (Farticles) to pictch products and the growing use of ad blockers by readers. Ad blockers came on the scene at the end of the decade as ad clutter was overwhelming users. The ad tech sector also spawned a fake profile creation service for social media that has become part of the digital ad ecosystem and has been suspected being used for geo-politics.
Not to be outdone the underground economy also went digital as scams that used to be by snail mail and phone can now be delivered online. The LoveYouEmail Virus in 2000 infected 50 millions windows computers worldwide. More cyber criminals entered the market with The Code Red Worm, the Goner Virus and Email phishing became a new channel of distribution for the Nigerian Scammers. Ransomware also become a problem as the virus would shut down your computer and you had to pay them a fee to unlock the computer.
Hardware technology had major leaps with innovations like touch colour screens and large flat panel tv screens. Processing power of the chip continued as smartphones became just as powerful as a desktop computer. Retailing saw a new consumer habit start to form called show rooming where they would go to a bricks and mortar store to the see product but buy it online from another vendor. The digital gold rush of the first decade of the new century had a lot of winners and losers and new industry giants emerged like Google, Apple, Facebook and Samsung. Next up Part three 2010-2020 - The Future of Digital