Events associated with trusted brands are a powerful draw for audiences and sponsors, Zimbalist says, both for the ability to sample products (such as at AIM's Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show) and network with like-minded enthusiasts. Many advertisers in the magazines are also Web and event sponsors. "It's a way for them to connect with the consumer 360 degrees," he notes.
Publishers have an advantage in producing events, not only because of the cross-platform advertising opportunities but also in promotion and market research. "You know geographically from your own data where to place the events and when, and how to slice and dice them in terms of demographics or [whether it] is an event for experts or beginners."
"It also gives you a lot of credibility with advertisers," he continues. "There is always a question mark in their minds [with print]: Who sees the ad? When they see 100,000 people show up at an event—end of argument."
A good example is AIM's Yoga Journal-branded events. Each year in San Francisco, for instance, 2500 yoga practitioners get together for five days; there are tracks for instructors, business owners, experts, beginners, pregnant women and the elderly. Attendees can dive into their niche while making new friends and doing business in a "very conducive atmosphere," Zimbalist says.
Over at F+W Media, events are also increasingly important in the product mix.
"Events is a healthy, growing business and we see it as the ultimate way to deepen a relationship with the consumer, which is core to our mission," Domville says. "… We are continually launching new events, like the inaugural Healthy Beverage Expo, an outgrowth of our World Tea Media division."
HOW Design Live, a show for Web and graphic designers, is one of F+W's largest events, growing from a single day 20 years ago to a full week of programming (this year at Moscone West in San Francisco) with multiple tracks aimed at designers of all levels. "Today it's the premiere event in the space," Domville says.