Monday, April 9, 2012

Modern trade shows now often feature dedicated mobile apps, as well as tablet editions of the show daily

If you've ever worked in the B2B media publishing business, you probably have an opinion about show dailies – those printed show newspapers that appear in the morning at your hotel door and at the show itself, they purport to give attendees news about the show.
For the publisher, they are a pain to produce and are often break-even propositions. In the past, these daily print products could be lucrative, but the real reason to produce one was to be able to sell the exhibitors, and hopefully translate that business into future business inside your main B2B magazine.

Show dailies are not yet at the stage where a publisher can get away with going totally digital. As a result, the early efforts appearing inside the App Store, and inside the Newsstand, are replica editions such as this one from NewBay Media for the National Association of Broadcaster's annual convention set to begin later this week in Las Vegas. The NAB Show Daily News is an exact copy of the print edition most attendees will pick up at the show or at their hotel.

NewBay Media will produce four editions of the show daily, and so launching an app inside Apple's Newsstand will insure that readers receive their digital copies automatically each morning.

(NewBay Media is a relatively new company, formed in the fall of 2006. The company bought titles from CMP and IMAS Publishing Group early on. In late 2009 it bought several magazines from Reed Business Information as it was divesting its titles including Broadcasting & Cable and Multichannel News. Then last year it bought several title from Penton including Mix and Electronic Musician. Like almost all decent sized B2Bs today, it is owned by a private equity firm – in this case The Wicks Group.)

Producing a truly native tablet edition, rather than this hard-to-read replica using the Paperlit platform, would be better – but producing a show daily is hard enough so why go in that direction unless one decides to go digital only. (I doubt the show producers want that just quite yet.)
If you've never produced a show daily the idea is to have a set design, with standard layouts. Each day most, if not all the ads are identical. Most of the editorial is written in advance with photographs taken the prior day added in, along with an story or two that was actually written at the show.

Because of this, creating a tablet edition using a replica maker's platform shouldn't be too much of an additional burden, though it will, of course, be an additional cost.

But a publisher bidding on the job might decide to mention that they plan on a digital version of the show daily, which might impress the show producers (though it is generally the fee and any revenue split promises that wins the job).

While tablet editions are new to the show daily world, mobile apps are becoming old hat. Core-Apps is one company that has been producing apps for trade shows for a while now. The company produced a mobile app for the 2011 NAB Show and has released a 2012 version just in the past week.

2012 NAB Show is a universal app, though it is mobile in nature. That is, its real purpose is for navigating the show floor and learning more about the exhibitors.

The app has a standard set of features: a scheduler, a list of the exhibitors, a map of the show floor, a session schedule, list of speakers, as well as other items pertaining to the show.

The concept of a mobile app to navigate a trade show is great in theory. Whether attendees use them is a good question, though I would certainly be one that likes the concept – assuming it wouldn't drain the battery life of my cell phone.