DMG enters tech market with purchase of Ad:Tech

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London-based DMG World Media last month acquired Ad:Tech-a series of interactive advertising trade shows held annually in San Francisco, Chicago and New York-from JD Events.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, although an unnamed source put the price at about $20 million.

DMG, which has operations in nine countries and 38 offices worldwide, produces some 300 events, including the American Hotel and Lodging Association Annual Conference and Leadership Forum, and publishes 65 magazines. The Ad:Tech deal takes the company into a new arena.

"For some time, DMG has wanted to start up a new business unit to focus on niche technology events," said Mark Carr, DMG exec VP, who is responsible for the Ad:Tech events. "Discovering Ad:Tech was available was a happy coincidence; with this acquisition, we start off with a clear market leader in the online advertising space with tremendous potential for growth globally.

"JD Events did an excellent job of turning the Ad:Tech show around and making it a must-attend event. Now, we're committed to using our considerable event management experience to expand its scope."

Ad:Tech plans to launch new shows in London and Shanghai this year, Carr said.

The upcoming Ad:Tech conference April 25-27 in San Francisco will be managed by JD Events, which has run Ad:Tech since 1999 and purchased it from Imark Communications in 2003.

"JD Events CEO Joel Davis and his group will help us make a smooth transition by managing the business while we put together our own small team of industry experts to run it," Carr said.

The new management team will set up office in San Francisco under the new moniker Ad:Tech Expositions.

"This acquisition is just the start of our interest in the technology sector," Carr said. "We're not aiming to take on or create super shows; we're looking for exciting niche markets that are recovering from the tech downturn and have tremendous opportunities for growth."

DMG's plan is to grow organically rather than aggressively adding properties that might not be good fits with its business plan, he said.

Ad:Tech's acquisition by DMG surprised more than a few media industry analysts.

"DMG was not an obvious choice. They have no real experience or presence in the technology sector," said Tom Kemp, managing director at New York-based media investment bank Veronis Suhler Stevenson. "However, the company has been hugely successful in establishing itself as a world leader in consumer and b-to-b conferences.

"If it intends to get involved and stay committed to the tech sector, I would expect it to do a good job. The clear opportunity here is for DMG to capitalize on Ad:Tech's potential internationally, where it has considerable presence and expertise."

That JD Events sold Ad:Tech was not a surprise. "Joel and his group do a great job of reviving shows that are hurting," Kemp said. "Through their management, Ad:Tech rebounded from the impact of 9/11 and the tech bubble burst, and [they] helped it grow alongside the growth of the online advertising industry."

The Jordan, Edmiston Group represented JD Events in the deal. 

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