In a previous piece we discussed that online platforms so far don’t take away much business from tradeshows. Does that change now? As in many trade shows this year, blockchain made first contact also on MIPTV!

Well, it’s easy to predict things that very often don’t evolve eventually. At this point only one thing is certain. Many industries are looking very closely at blockchain technology and its not about crypto currencies alone. The technology promises a range of amazing features that make it easy to bypass agents or other middlemen. Many amazing projects are in the making, and times promise to become very challenging for lawyers and consultants. The demand will decrease for sure and those who survive will have to re-invent their businesses.

Does this also include trade shows? So far, all attempts, at least in the content licensing business, have failed to transfer it to online platforms. Will blockchain now play the trick? So far, many trade shows are struggling with one problem: Increasing competition – not with online platforms but with physical trade shows trying to expand their footprint by going into “new fields”.

For instance, Reed Midem, the mother of the Cannes based TV content markets miptv in spring and mipcom in fall, launched spin off markets within their existing trade shows, like mipdoc and mipcom junior, but also new satellite shows abroad in Mexico and China. The local spin offs target specific groups within the market’s general target group, like documentary films or kids content. The new satellite markets target these “new fields”. These fields are new only to our protagonist who tries to take away market shares from those trade shows that have been active on this market for many years. The reason for these spin off trade shows from established regional trade show brands into other locations is aiming to approach new target exhibitors directly in their markets to encourage them to come to the mother trade show – in short, to attract more exhibitors for the key event.
The result is more competition in the other markets. Since competitors act similarly it is only a question of time for competition also to increase in the exhibitor’s key market – a dangerous game with only few on the winning side in the end! However, this is also a result of digitalization and shortening innovation cycles. Only a few years ago the creation of spin off trade shows would have required a much higher effort and much more time for preparations. Increasing competition, that’s what all industries are faced with because of digitalization…

Blockchain – that’s the first major disruption for the still young internet itself! It will shake up the way we use the internet and how we do business and communicate with each other. It will simplify secure interaction with groups and individuals. It is hard to forecast the full impact; however, it will be BIG! Therefore, it will also have its impact on the trade show industry. For the time being Blockchain just starts to be a topic at the accompanying conferences providing a peep into the creation of new services. For instance, at this year’s miptv in Cannes an Argentinian platform building communities around live content such as concert gigs and sports events was showcast. However, the content itself remains outside the blockchain, giving away a lot of opportunity. “Treeti”, founded by the independent US producer Amorette Jones, was another showcase, a smart contract-based trading platform for independent films.

In the long run, platforms like this could become a real threat for markets like mipcom and miptv. Really? There are online content markets online. To this point they had never had a major impact on physical market places. However, blockchain technology provides direct, secure and transparent transaction between two partners, in real time and across continents – features which previous online applications were missing. Can blockchain play the trick? This remains to be seen. Fact is, there is more to market than the features just mentioned. Trust, vision etc. can’t be transported via the algorithm, at least not yet.

Therefore, an intermediator is still needed. Trade Shows will have to transform just as other industries have to. It will be an on-going and continuously speeding process. This will be the challenge!

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