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A proliferation of partnerships

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Chuck Richard is VP-lead analyst of media market research company Outsell Inc.

Media Business: In light of the last few months, do you see the surge in media M&A activity continuing this year?

Chuck Richard: Yes. All the drivers are in place. Top line is growing, profitability is rising, and people can focus on growth, as opposed to survival.

MB:Do you think strategic buyers are going to be more aggressive in acquiring b-to-b media properties?

Richard: They will be more than in the past 18 months, but with a difference from prior to those 18 months, in that buyers will be focused on direct matches rather than “let's buy into five new markets.” They'll have a more singular and fine-tuned set of targets.

MB: What type of deals do you think will characterize the M&A market this year?

Richard: Many smaller and midscale deals, but large scale only in very related properties, as what UBM did buying Canon and marrying [Canon's] portfolio of advanced medical manufacturing with [healthcare media company] UBM Medica ...To manage the complexity of social media, marketing services, mobile and analytics calls for publishers to intercept their audiences wherever they are in the cloud. So I see lots and lots of third-party specialist partnerships in which there's no equity exchange and, instead, traffic exchanges or other agreements. That basically tells me that publishers need to have 10 times the number of partnerships they ever had.

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