IBC show floor


IBC 2022 was now nearly a month ago. While some poor souls might still be in the queue at Schiphol, I’ve had a bit of time to reflect on my experience of the biggest broadcast show in town. I wanted to share that experience from Amsterdam and the main observations of a slightly sleep-deprived PR person runnin’ ‘round the RAI.

“The more things change, the more they stay the same…”

This year was the first IBC since 2019. Unlike some other Babel staple shows like MWC, IBC didn’t manage to make a half-return in 2021 and thus those on the broadcast beat had three years of pent-up innovation to showcase.

Vendors will gladly tell you how quickly the industry moves forward; how much has changed since the pandemic. Yet, if IBC is a snapshot of three years of development, you have to question where that has gone.

The topics we were pitching to broadcast media back in 2019 included opinion pieces on who would win the streaming wars and how, explainers on the transformational potential of 5G and AI, the coming of the cloud conquerors, how to purge the pirates etc. etc. 

Well, deja vu. 

Content Everywhere – including at a different trade show

Hall 5 of the show promised ‘Content Everywhere’ in a bringing together of the worlds of broadcast and broadband. You’d think that would be right up my street (I laugh when I write things like this about what the younger me would think of that sentence, what the world of B2B does to a man…) If content was everywhere, sadly USPs were much harder to find.

If I was being cynical, I’d say the I in IBC stood for indistinguishable. If I was being mean, I’d say the B and C stood for bumbling codswallop. The return of IBC attracted roughly 40,000 visitors from 170 countries over four days. Hundreds (if not thousands) of exhibitors spread across thousands of square footage of floor space. It’s amazing how so many people from so many backgrounds can come together in such a big place and all say the same thing. Which was not much.

What’s worse, as someone with a few MWCs under his belt, is that much of IBC this year felt like a repeat of what the telecoms world showcased in February, just with more Stroopwaffels and less tapas. In actual fact, the broadcast space seems to be being propped up by a number of Nordic vendors at the moment, so maybe not tapas, but certainly not a smorgasbord of differentiation. 

There are natural synergies between broadcast and telecoms in terms of emphasising low latency and all that comes with it, but I’d hoped for a more unique flavour. Ironically, MWC was a far more visually striking show too.

IBC media titles

Broadcasting a clear message

Walking around the show floor, seeing stand straplines and reading the marketing materials saw one thought regularly came to mind; “nobody talks like this!”.

My challenge to those of you in the broadcast industry is to take a step back and think: what is your content actually saying? How can you differentiate your message? How can you clearly communicate what you do, and why? How do you make the case people should care about this now? 

Every sector in B2B technology PR has its acronyms and its buzzwords, but that doesn’t mean they should be used for the sake of it. Your prospects are normal people, with normal lives and jobs and hobbies (well, for the most part, this is still B2B tech). Why do we feel the need to talk so abnormally? Why is everything so riddled with guff?

Here at Babel, we have a few ideals we try and stick to – we’re a pretty good place to work if I do say so – but two things I always come back to are “people don’t buy technology, they buy solutions to problems” and “B2B might feel very corporate, but ultimately people still buy from people”. With that in mind, why was so much content on display at a show boasting of Content Everywhere lacking in…personality?

The future of IBC and its exhibitors – consolidation for both?

The first show back after global lockdowns was always going to be interesting. Maybe it’s too easy to read into the decline in attendees from 2019 to now as a sign that there is less interest in the show in general.

The organisers made a conscious effort to streamline the show, shortening it to four days and squeezing exhibitors into fewer halls. It felt busy, it felt like there was enough to look at, but it definitely felt smaller. Consolidated.

Consolidation is sometimes a bit of a dirty word, but the fact is that so many vendors offering essentially the same thing can’t all survive forever. Broadcast has been loaded with M&A for years now, but the sense in Amsterdam is that there is still much more to come.

For some companies, their objective is to be bought. For others, it’s to grow enough to do the buying. For a fortunate few, already big enough, the challenge is knowing which company to buy.

Achieving any of those is impossible with mundane messaging and copy & paste content.

The journey to IBC23 has already started. If you want to make sure you have something worth saying come next year, if you want to create content that speaks to prospects and media in a unique voice, get in touch.

Written by

Senior Campaign Director

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