In this article we will:
- Explain the scale and breadth of the global and USA multi-billion dollar events industry and the business opportunity it offers.
- Address why existing big ticketing platforms fall short of the needs of event organisers and promoters.
- Explore the revenue challenges experienced by local print, TV and radio media in the US.
- How meshing local events together with local media offers a potential revenue stream.
- Explain the Evvnt proposition and the win-win offering for event organizers and local media businesses.
The events industry is huge and growing
A 2019 report from Allied Market Research estimated that the global events industry generated $1,100 billion in 2018. And the report predicts that the industry is projected to reach $2,330 billion by 2026, registering a CAGR of 10.3% from 2019 to 2026.
By region, the report notes that Europe is the single biggest region for events. The single biggest country for events in the world is the USA. But the Asia Pacific region is predicted to have the greatest CAGR of 13% between 2019 and 2026.
The most striking aspect of the events industry space is variety with no two happenings the same. You can stage an event to improve your business profitability, celebrate an anniversary, entertain seniors or fundraiser for a community cause. The most popular events include conferences and exhibitions, corporate events and seminars, general promotion & fundraising, music and art performances. As well as sports and children’s events.
Considering the United States in particular, and even looking at just paid for ticketed events, Statista records the size of the American events industry tickets as amounting to US$22,811M in 2020. Revenue is expected to show an annual growth rate (CAGR 2020-2024) of 6.5%, resulting in a market volume of US$29,367M by 2024.
Ticketing platforms don’t solve the events findability problem
The big ticketing platforms, such as Eventbrite, are well-known by industry professionals and also a broader consumer base, but they have three significant shortcomings for event organisers and promoters.
- The primary focus is ticketing
The existing dominant players are focussed primarily on ticketing, event administration and analysis. Whilst the utility of enabling the ticketing of events, processing payments and producing attendee lists is vital and useful, such tasks represent a small fraction of the activities and skills needed to make an event a success.
- The ‘event findability problem’ is not solved
Global ticketing providers don’t operate as an ‘event search engine’ as many users mistakenly suppose. They can be used as such but event findability isn’t a core part of the service. The job of getting the word out about an event ticketed by a global platform still resides predominantly with the organiser. There is no ‘push marketing’ from the platform to other sites and local media.
- Event organisers do the marketing heavy-lifting
The major asset provided by ticketing platforms is a trustworthy link that you can market yourself so you can attract as many attendees and ticket sales as possible. And when you promote the link to the ticketing site event listing, the branded platform is enjoying as much profile as the event itself.
The web has gouged local media revenues
The arrival and adoption of the mass market internet in homes and workplaces, and later on smartphones, in the last quarter century has had a transformational impact on just about every aspect of modern life. But one area that has seen greater changes more than most is how people receive and consume news.
Although commercial national media in all forms has had to reform its revenue models in the past 20 years (perhaps the most striking change has been the emergence of subscriptions for online newspapers such as the New York Times), the struggle to remain profitable, or even viable, has proved to be more difficult for local and regional publishers.
People love local media…
And this is despite the widespread acceptance that news consumers of media news sources such as local newspapers, TV channels and radio stations are considered more fondly, more trustworthy and are valued more than national media.
According to Poynter research from 2018, 76% of respondents say they have ‘a great deal’ or a ‘a fair amount’ of trust in their local TV station and 73% say the same about their local newspaper. Compare that with national media and it is 55% for TV and 59% for newspapers respectively. Perhaps most tellingly, in the age of ‘fake news’, online sources are much considered less favourably with only 47% holding positive viewpoints
Yet despite the favourable view of local new providers, the change in news consumption habits has had dire consequences for traditional media and how they generate revenues. The numbers for hard copy print newspaper sales make for particularly stark reading. According to the Pew Research Center in 2019, weekday print newspaper circulation has just about halved in the 21st century. They say that in 2000, the circulation of all newspapers was 55.7 million daily but by 2018 that was estimated to be just 28.6 million. And those revenue numbers continue to fall.
…But don’t love paying for it.
With declining circulation, the first blow to a newspaper’s revenues is diminishing income from the cover price. And as a result the price point of a newspaper has increased dramatically to compensate. But, more damagingly, as the number of copies sold falls the next hit comes when rate for lucrative print advertising from brands and businesses are reduced to compensate.
Publications found that they were selling less advertising for lower rates. Across the board that has seen advertising revenues for newspapers decline from $48.7bn in 2000 to an estimated $14.3bn in 2018.
The big ‘platforms’ have arrived – Facebook and Google…
Naturally this doesn’t mean that advertising has disappeared but the revenues have ebbed away to to other media. At the turn of the millennium in 2000, Google was not even two years old and Facebook was 4 years away from invention. In Q219, ad revenue at Facebook and Google clocked in at $16.62 billion and $32.6 billion respectively.
…and so have Craigslist, dating apps, eBay and the rest.
And it’s not just these big ‘platforms’ that have drawn advertising revenues away from newspapers. A local print publication used to be the hub for a huge variety of other classified adverts. From job ads to dating, family announcements for births, deaths and marriages or items for sale. Small ads were a significant source of income that has also been scalped by online services.
Circulation. Advertising. Classifieds. All down.
This triple whammy has hit the newspaper business hard and across America local media is in crisis. Even where a local publication has survived, it’s not unusual that a once buzzing newsroom is now run on a skeleton staff. Investment in new websites to maximise potential has slowed and possible innovations such as an effective local news app have often stalled because of a lack of resources.
The slide has been gradual but it’s now obvious that local journalism is in a critical state due to the shifts in consumer habits. High quality local journalism is resource hungry and labour intensive. It requires highly qualified individuals with solid local contacts and extensive specialist knowledge to be at the heart of unremitting publishing deadlines.
Journalism has suffered
According to Pew Research, from 2008 to 2018, newsroom employment in the U.S. dropped by 25%. In 2008, about 114,000 newsroom employees – reporters, editors, photographers and videographers – worked in five industries that produce news: newspaper, radio, broadcast television, cable and “other information services” (the best match for digital-native news publishers). By 2018, the report says, that number had declined to about 86,000, a loss of about 28,000 jobs.
The promise of new revenues from the ‘platforms’ hasn’t materialised
Much has been promised by the big platforms but over time it hasn’t translated into sustaining and reliable revenues.
Syndicated ad content, such as Google Adsense, has proved to be unsuccessful in generating anywhere close to the level of revenue that a newspaper, TV or radio station, needs to remain viable, let alone profitable.
Both Facebook and Google have developed programmes to attract news publishers to their advertising programmes but it soon became obvious that, despite willingness to embrace the concept and invest in systems to adopt them, that there was no meaningful money to be made.
A handful of cents here and there doesn’t cover the cost of a fully functioning newsroom. Click through rates (CTRs) are tiny and diminish over time and the result is the new normal of newspaper websites smothered with adverts that aren’t making much money. Often, so full of adverts, wraparounds and pop-ups are local news websites, that they are essentially rendered unusable and unreadable to the local consumers they seek to serve.
In the Columbia Journalism Review, a November 2019 report from the Tow Center for Digital Journalism said that trust had broken down between publishers and platforms, and previous hope for a productive relationship was now lost.
One publisher said, “The reason why publishers and these platforms got into bed together was that there was a basic bargain” – publishers would provide content in exchange for audience and, by extension, revenue – but “the bargain has broken down.”
Not only was the bargain broken because the traffic from the platform didn’t translate into meaningful revenues. However, the ‘partnership’ was further tainted by changes to the search and display algorithms used to determine how content is displayed. As an example, a 2018 change to the Facebook newsfeed saw traffic trickledown fall dramatically.
Obviously, platforms like Google and Facebook thrive on the sharing of content to amuse and inform users. Neither produce any news content themselves (although LinkedIN has now established its own fully operation newsroom) and just serve as conduits to share content produced by others.
Platforms have started funding journalism directly
Perhaps out of concern for negative publicity, or an awareness that they need local news content to nourish their own online audiences, the platforms has introduced some schemes to fund local news in the UK and USA. All told, the Columbia Journalism Review report estimates that the money pledged by the platforms to local media in the United States will total in the region of $1billion “over several years”.
The money is being distributed in several different ways. Some funds are offered in a competitive grants system inviting bids specifically for local democracy news initiatives or community reporter schemes. Other monies are going directly to newsrooms or other local media. Emily Bell, director of the Tow Center for Journalism at Columbia University says that “if the relationship is to be a productive one it will have to deliver more direct subsidy or a clear path to monetise audiences.”
But after several years of experimentation with community journalism grants and sponsorship, it is now widely accepted that attempts by Facebook and Google that these schemes are little more than band-aids.
The Evvnt Strategic proposition
Richard Green is the founder and CEO of Evvnt and he thinks that bringing local events together with local media such as newspapers, radio and TV in the United States could offer a win-win situation to help event organisers fill up their local events by paying local media providers to promote their music concerts, church service, garage sales, drama shows, music performance or fundraisers.
Green says: “Events are local. Community media is local. It’s time to use the World Wide Web to knit the two together. I know that event organisers are willing to pay a fair price to promote their event if it means that attendance and ticket sales go up. Newspapers are struggling and TV and radio stations, much beloved by their neighbourhoods, need income to survive and keep on reporting.
“It’s a win-win situation because it’s symbiotic. It’s also a great way of bring the community together. I want to promote vibrant communities, bursting with activities and show that we can also nourish high-quality local media organisations spreading the word about what’s going on in every neighbourhood in America.”
Green adds: “The big ticketing sites just suck money away from your neighbourhood. All they really offer is a web presence for people to buy tickets online. Unlike Evvnt, they don’t offer a partnership so people near you can find events and join in. They also don’t support your treasured local media organisations.”