JEGI CLARITY Conference Panel: B2B Media Poised for Growth—and Robust M&A

By Tony Silber

All in all, according to a presentation from Kathleen Thomas and Rich Kanefsky (pictured), managing directors at JEGI CLARITY, “the smart money will be backing the next-gen B2B leaders.”

There’s never been a more exciting time for B2B media. With the industry’s omnichannel approach to serving customers, its technology platforms creating game-changing new marketing techniques, and its data-oriented value proposition, B2B media companies are poised for continued growth.

That was the message from two industry experts at the JEGI CLARITY Media and Technology Conference, held this week in New York. The event attracted hundreds of attendees, mostly senior executives, across a variety of industries, including advertising, marketing, finance and M&A.

In the B2B media space, Thomas and Kanefsky gave a compelling vision of growth in the sector, frequently through acquisitions.

“We’re expecting a pickup in media M&A over the next 12 months, as potential sellers time going to market around optimistic 2024 performance, and buyers look to put capital to work to deepen vertical expertise and broaden omnichannel capabilities,” Kanefsky told SIIA Media Alert. “Private equity’s need to return capital to investors, along with a friendlier interest-rate environment, should also drive an uptick in deal activity.”

Author’s Note: I’d say the robust performance of B2B media is a surprise, but it’s not. It might have been 10 or 15 years ago, but not now. Now, B2B companies dominate their markets, and are—because of their product mix, market knowledge, and relationships—more resilient and resistant to disruption than most other media sectors.

B2B media companies have all phases of a marketer’s sales journey covered, Thomas and Kanefsky noted. First, there’s the marketer’s need to identify prospects. That’s done through B2B media’s brand-awareness services, which allow marketers to amplify their messages. These include advertising, conferences and trade shows, awards programs and the like. Next is a learning phase, enabled by research, white papers, conferences, webinars, sponsored emails and more. And finally, there’s the buying phase, driven by buyer events, data solutions, and networking.

All of these steps in the process, they added, are driven by technology, which serves as a platform for lead generation, audience targeting, and the development of behavioral and intent data. Put together, these interlocking components make for very valuable companies that have a moat of protection around them.

And that, in turn, makes them attractive acquisition targets. Companies like Informa, which in recent years has acquired Winsight, Industry Dive, TechTarget and others, represent the buy side of the M&A equation. A next tier of already-scaled companies, with EBITDA of $25 million to $40 million, is likely to also be on the lookout for acquisition targets. This tier includes Questex, Northstar Travel Group, ALM, and Future. Other acquisitive companies that Thomas and Kanefsky said are actively scaling up are WTWH Media, The Channel Company, EnsembleIQ, ARC, and eRepublic.

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