Thursday, April 23, 2009

Former UBM Asia CFO has new job

My friend and former colleague John Day is taking on a new role at United Business Media. He's taking on the role of CEO at UBM Global Trade, the division which includes the PIERS Global Intelligence Solutions and Journal of Commerce branded events, news and analytical content. Since stepping aside as CFO at CMP Media in Manhasset, he has been running RISI, Inc. (née Paperloop), a business in which UBM has the majority stake.

Prior to all that, about a decade ago now, John worked for five years in Hong Kong as CFO of what was then Miller Freeman Asia. That business, a boon to business card printers, has since been renamed CMP Asia and now UBM Asia.

This may not seem like the most auspicious time to take on a shipping and trade portfolio. As I sailed to the Philippines over Easter, the number container ships laid up in the international waters just off Hong Kong that we passed was quite staggering. But, John's timing may be good; there's only one way to go from where we are today....and it surely ain't down.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Campaign-ing in China

Our friends at Haymarket in Asia were a little slow to climb onto the online bandwagon. But, having firmly pointed themselves in a web-oriented direction over the past 12 months, appear to be charging off towards Internet glory.

Titles such as Media and CEI now have fully-fledged e-offerings which we are finding very useful. It was useful to see today (thanks to Thomas Crampton for this, now at Ogilvy and generally source of all that is considered wisdom on online media) that Haymarket founder Michael Heseltine's first love, Campaign, is now emerging as a brand with this new Chinese website.

Just to add a further Crampton twist to this. He twittered (as he does) about how good the Google translation of the new site was. Check it out for yourself. It's not bad.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Shanghai motor show bucks the trend

It was looking as though motor shows the world over were going to be the biggest events industry victims of the economic downturn. The London show for 2010 has already announced that it's not going ahead, major exhibitors decided to skip Tokyo.

But then comes the news from Shanghai. Porsche is launching its Panamerica model there:

Note the comment on China's car market having overtaken that of the US this year. It's a scary thought but one which has auto industry CEOs salivating. More press comment here:

Wall Street Journal:
HK Standard:

Friday, April 17, 2009

Pat McGovern on growing through the recession

IDG founder Pat McGovern gives an interesting interview at Mediashift about how his business is growing in tough times; the aggressive move online being at the heart of things in his opinion. There are inevitably a number of interesting references to China and India:

So have you launched any print publications lately?

McGovern: We're a global company, and in India print is hot, and only 3% of people have Internet access. The number of people learning English is developing nicely, and there are some other smaller countries where we have launched print publications. We launched ComputerWorld Pakistan recently. In the U.S., I don't see us launching print business publications. For consumer titles, in China, we publish about 20 print publications. We are the only international company able to publish magazines in China because we made an investment there before there was a prohibition on foreign investment.

There's now 450 million Internet users in China, more than the U.S., so the advertisers decided to shift ads from being 20% online to about 60% online, so we've seen a corresponding jump in online usage for our B2B titles.

McGovern also points to the massively larger number of mobile phones in India than mobile users to suggest that this medium may be more important than online as that market moves away from print. As regular readers of this blog will know, that's a point we've been banging on about for the past 2 years.

Thanks to Hugo E. Martin for pointing this interview out via a Facebook posting.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Moving forward when times are tough

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs...

There are clearly advantages to being independent. As the behemoths of the B2B media industry run around savaging their staff and bemoaning their lost bonuses and withered options, it's good to see one of the more focused, conservative players in our business making a move.

TradeShow Week broke the news on its Twitter feed (ooh, very Web 3.0 guys) and its website that Diversified Business Communications of Portland, Maine has acquired a controlling interest in Hong Kong's Asia Business Events. John Bednall and Jonathan Goold have kept the company very focused over the 10+ years they have been building up the Restaurant & Bar Show. The newer Retail Asia Expo & Congress gives Diversified a second leg on which to build. The company's presence in Asia/Pacific has until now been largely restricted to its successfull operations in Australia, acquired from Allworld a decade ago.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Fighting in Jimé's army

United Business Media, like many large companies, has a section of its website devoted to persuading potential employees that it's a great place to work. It's nicely done and includes some testimonials from staff in various parts of the world.

UBM Asia is well represented with four former colleagues of mine from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Seoul. My eye was particularly caught by the entry from Sabine Liu in Taipei who says "Working for UBM Asia and UBM is like being a soldier fighting on various battlefields at once". We shall remember to save our smartest salute for General Essink when our paths next cross.

Just teasing everybody in the B2B media business these days, they're going to need all their fighting spirit to get through this year with the troops intact. Mind you, TradeShow Week in its 'the grass is greener over there' piece last week did single out UBM Asia as one company that seems to be doing better than some. It noted:

UBM Asia’s portfolio (formerly CMP Asia) also looks to have a good year. Key events, such as the September edition of the Hong Kong Intl. Jewellery Show, the All China Leather Exhibition, Marintec, Furniture China and Cosmoprof Asia are on track to achieve growth this year, according to the company.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Pay per enquiry

The B2B sourcing specialists have long focused on the importance of reader response to tieing in their clients. Even back in the days of magazines and 'bingo cards', companies such as Global Sources developed significant skills in managing this feedback loop.

We read with interest then this interview at the JLM Pacific Epoch site with Chen Dong, the CEO of Shenzhen's I have to confess that, hard as we try to track all the online B2B activity in the region, this one had passed us by. Its claim to be "one of the largest B2B (business to business) websites in the world" is stretching things a bit; it has an Alexa ranking of around 7,200 and claims 2008 revenues of Rmb30mn (up from Rmb25mn in 2007).

However, take a look at what Chen says about their pricing model:

Our business model is different from more traditional companies that rely on fixed, annual fees. Our registered suppliers put RMB 5,000 down to open an account and we deduct RMB 30 from the account each time a supplier responds to an inquiry that they receive for free from our buyers. In addition, we offer a monthly package for RMB 390 that allows for unlimited inquiry response and annual packages for RMB 8,000, RMB 15,000 and RMB 25,000. About 30% of the suppliers who sign up for our pay-per-inquiry service transfer to monthly or annual packages, another 30% will churn after their first year and the remaining 40% will stay on as pay-per-inquiry users.
Read the whole interview. It's interesting. We'll be following this one quite closely.