Informa, the global publishing, business intelligence and events giant, last week announced a midyear “Trading Update” intended as a preliminary report in advance of an annual meeting and the release of full results for the first half of 2022, both of which are scheduled for next month.
In the report, which didn’t offer specific revenue figures, the company said it enjoyed robust trading so far this year, with underlying group revenue growth of more than 40%, improving growth in academic markets, a strong return in live and on-demand events (with more than 100% growth) and continued momentum in B2B digital services, which have had more than 10% growth.
The London, U.K.-based company is on track for reporting actual results on the high end of its 2022 guidance to analysts and shareholders. The guidance, reiterated in March, indicated 2022 revenue of between $2.5 billion and $2.6 billion, with profit of between $575 million and $600 million. These estimates, the company said, are updated to reflect the phased divestment of Informa’s intelligence portfolio.
But the part that caught my eye was the growth in the company’s B2B unit, and especially growth in events, suggesting what many media observers and practitioners have predicted for a couple of years: a significant bounceback for live events.
Informa’s three B2B units, (Informa Markets, Informa Connect, Informa Tech), are all performing strongly year to date, the company said, delivering combined 90% underlying revenue growth across the first five months of the year.
In addition, the company’s strategy of specialization is accelerating, with continued expansion of on-demand and B2B digital services in key markets, Informa reported. This has been most evident in Informa Tech, where the NetLine addition has helped to expand volume, quality and engagement from Informa’s tech audiences and drive development of lead-generation services.
Underpinning all these digital developments, the company reported, is the continued roll out of IIRIS, a proprietary centralized B2B customer data and analytics platform. The platform’s registration, tracking and segmentation service offerings across core verticals, the increased volume and quality of data is enhancing its existing business through more effective sales and marketing, and building a consented first party data engine to fuel the development of lead generation, lead qualification and audience development products and services.
This example serves to illustrate a key element of B2B success in recent years: Companies need to have technology stacks in place that are integrated and easy to use, and that measurably drive practical, day-to-day performance. These systems typically track registration, segmentation, and audience intelligence and engagement, increasing the volume and quality of data, which in turn generates more effective sales and marketing, and permission-based first-party audience development.
Informa Tech is at the forefront of these developments, the company said, reflecting its broad portfolio of specialist B2B media, B2B events, data and research brands, and a more developed customer market for data-driven lead generation services.
For the company's events portfolio, live events continue to return across North America, the Middle East, Europe, Asia and Latin America, with customer demand stronger than anticipated, and positive post-show feedback. This all comes even as the pandemic continues.
But Informa says it’s been experiencing high levels of rebooking that are reaching pre-pandemic levels. In total, Informa reported, it has produced more than 200 live events across the world this year, and attracted more than a million participants, over 25,000 exhibitors and nearly $500 million in revenue. With mainland China’s COVID restrictions being progressively lifted, Informa expects to deliver more than 60% of the revenue that was budgeted for the region this year.