M&A Activity Shows Publishers Looking to Diversify
Recent mergers and acquisitions activity in the magazine market suggests a move toward niche publishing and diversification of revenue sources, investment bankers tell Publishing Executive Inbox.
Much recent acquisition activity has centered around publishers looking to increase monetization opportunities on the Web, according to Tom O'Connor, managing director at Berkery Noyes.
"We have seen the business go from publishing to content to solutions," O'Connor says, by which he means an emphasis on software applications that merge with or overlay content, creating new opportunities for monetization and growth.
"There's a lot of excellent publishing companies out there...who say, 'Yes we like content, but we want to be delivery agnostic,'" he says. "They want to know what channels you are going to monetize, what your strategy is for the Web … how you are doing search, how you are doing SEO. [Buyers and sellers] are looking to monetize the content that publishers develop at every possible touch point."
While successful efforts at content monetization and lead generation make publishers more attractive to buyers, some recent M&A activity has centered on publishers looking to acquire the means to strengthen or diversify their own revenue streams, as Meredith Corp. has done since its 2007 purchase of social media marketing firm New Media Strategies. This week, several media outlets have reported that Hearst Corp. is close to purchasing Scottsdale, Ariz.-based digital marketing agency iCrossing for $375 million, an acquisition that could bring the publisher enhanced expertise in Web analysis and marketing tools.
Recent deals, including Adobe Systems Inc. buying Web analytics firm Omniture and content delivery network provider Limelight Networks buying digital ad service provider EyeWonder, illustrate this trend toward moving revenue capabilities beyond traditional boundaries, DeSilva + Phillips' Jay C. MacDonald says in a company news release. "There will be a lot of obvious categories like the ad network space where the activity will be brisk but what’s most interesting will be to see who the buyers are, because I submit that the definition of what is a media company … is changing quickly."