What do you get if you cross several thousand media executives with several hundred technology vendors and a lot of business cards? No, it's not a joke, it's the WAN-IFRA Expo which took place earlier this week in Frankfurt.
See my take on how European newspapers are making tablets an integral part of their business models and how magazine giant Conde Nast sees tablets as the saviour of publishing - and here is my video roundup from the expo floor, featuring chats with Atex, Woodwing and Eidos Media.
Tied to technology
There's an inescapable truth about multimedia publishing these days: successful media businesses are the ones who form the best relationships with the best technology partners, at the right time and for the right cost.
Looking back on the WAN-IFRA Expo, that seems more clear than ever. So many of the senior European newspaper, magazine and digital media executives present spend their entire working life managing the relationships between media brands, staff and technology companies.
Here are a list of things publishers want, gathered from conversations in Frankfurt:
-- A genuine unified print and online CMS: i.e. something that can publish to an editorial workflow that includes print, online and mobile outputs. Too many brands have three separate teams repurposing content for each platform.
-- Advertising server across media: You know when you turn your iPad on its side and the screen changes? That's neat but for traditional ad servers it sucks. Most ad serving tech publishers use can't automatically regenerate an ad for different screen resolutions/sizes - although several vendors at WAN-IFRA were offering this.
-- Social media management tools: I've always been slightly puzzled by this but for big league consumer publishers it does matter. They want a helicopter view of their social media output and interactions to gauge the "effectiveness of conversations" as one publishing MD put it to me.
-- Good, but, AFFORDABLE mobile products: I watched Conde Nast's presentation on Tuesday with great interest: the care and effort that goes into a single enhanced edition is immense (as is the download size). But the digital publisher in a big newspaper group sat next to me put it: "For us, that is just too expensive."
Conde has put editorial design and feel above cost worries in the hierarchy of needs, but for the rest of us, the cost has to come first.
-- Cross-media analytics: There are several reasons people build products with Adobe/Woodwing - it fits into existing workflows and business relationships - but also because it comes with analytics as standard and that means tablets can play a role in advertising.
The craze for creating HTML-based mobile products is exciting, but when ads are the biggest revenue-driver, how are you going to convince your agency friends that the numbers stack up?
Here are some photos from the day and you can find all of WAN-IFRA's slides here.