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Farnborough Air Show 2010: Review of Online Coverage July 29, 2010

Posted by ludozone in Aerospace, Conference, International Business Development, Internet Marketing, Social Media, Twitter.
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5 comments

In every one’s opinion, last week’s Farnborough Air Show turned out to be more exciting than previously anticipated. The 787 fly-in, large aircraft orders and a generally optimistic mood contributed to a great success. But this show was not constraint to just an airfield southwest of London, it was also experienced online by thousands of professionals from all corners of the world. Compared to last year’s Paris Air Show, Farnborough brought many innovations and expansions online.

INDUSTRY MEDIA

The three main aerospace publishers were once again present at the show and online. Aviation International News (AIN), AviationWeek, and FlightGlobal all set-up camp on-site to produce the traditional daily publications that have been handed out to attendees for years. As it is now customary for each major show, they also created an event landing page on their website to broadcast news and information. Each organization produced a massive amount of reports:

  AIN AviationWeek FlightGlobal
Dailies Produced 4 4 4
(+3 online)
Articles 196 35 591
Blog Entries N/A 41 72
Pictures 165 120 205
Videos N/A 27 31

AIN and AviationWeek used the same website than at previous airshows (See Singapore review) with no significant new features. I am sure that loyal followers of these websites are comfortable with their formats. However, I did not like the obtrusive advertising that seems to be creeping up with each new show. The AviationWeek site in particular now seems to feature more company logos than your average race car! But according to their own press release, AviationWeek’s steady coverage of the show seems to resonate with their internet audience.

By contrast, the online innovation leader was once again FlightGlobal. Not only did they produce the most content, their new “Tree of Communications” website is clean, fully featured and easy to use. It integrates multi-media information with all the social tools required in modern information publishing and manages to do it in a slick and cool interface. The online audience is reacting well to the new design according to these record-breaking internet traffic figures. I tend to agree. Here are some of my favorite highlights:

  • Links, links, links: using their extensive tagging engine, most pages you browse automatically display a list of related articles, videos and pictures. It is very easy to navigate and allows you to dive-in. Articles can also be sorted by popularity (most viewed) or by ranking (based on user feedback). The blog entries are an easy way to start your daily show review as they provide the links to the various pieces of information related to each subject.
  • Videos: as I have mentioned before, the FlightGlobal daily wrap-ups are my favorite. The dynamic duo of FlightBlogger and Runway Girl were once again in rare form while bringing us the show essentials in a fun and casual daily report. Critics will say that the videos are amateurish at best, but I think this is much more engaging for the new generation of Aerospace workers than reading endless pretentious reports. However, I will say that for feature pieces, AviationWeek demonstrated their maturity and professionalism under the leadership (and impeccable voice-over) of accomplished broadcaster Ed Hazelwood. Just compare AviationWeek’s “787 Arrives Farnborough” versus FlightGlobal’s “John Ostrower takes you on a tour of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner” to see the difference. This is one area where AviationWeek has definitely improved since Paris, and where FlightGlobal could invest a bit more time.
  • Show Guide: Although AviationWeek’s Show Guide is full of information and practical information, its PDF format misses the opportunity to provide much better online content. I love the static display map provided by FlightGlobal with each aircraft linked to a full profile with related articles, pictures and videos.
  • Live flight display: in cooperation with FLIR Systems, each afternoon’s flight display was rebroacast online. This was a nice addition to the site especially when the picture would switch to infrared mode and show the heat profile of some of the airplanes.
  • FourSquare: FlightGlobal organized an online contest using their Stefan the Pilot profile to highlight different areas of the show. Using FourSquare, Stefan “checked-in” to locations of interest and challenged others to follow him. The person that managed to follow Stephan the most by the end of the show won an iPad. This is once again an interesting experiment by Flight Global that has the potential of providing new avenues for sponsorship and revenues for the publisher.

All industry media companies were also very active on Twitter, with AviationWeek and FlightGlobal producing the most updates from their main accounts as well as from a group of on-site and off-site journalists. Compared to last year, AviationWeek did a much better job with Twitter under the incessant enthusiasm of @AvWeekBennet. But I feel it still lacked the “play-by-play” feeling that the on-site Flight Global team delivered. The Twitter statistics seem to confirm that fact, with Flight’s @FlightBlogger being the most retweeted contributor to the #FARN10 stream. But I think that is a matter of personal preference. Judging strictly by comparing @flightglobal and @aviationweek, I think they were very similar in presence and quality.

In conclusion, and compared to last year, AIN stayed the same; AviationWeek improved its social media presence and video production; while Flight Global continues to embrace the online environment with more innovation and more content.

THE INDUSTRY

While the main Aerospace players were barely active online at Paris last year, Farnborough saw an explosion of online content from most of them. I think these companies finally realized that the show plays out online as much as on the ground.  As I recommended in this article, most of them created dedicated microsites for the Farnborough air show. The content included:

Company Show Schedule Videos Pictures Blogs
Airbus N 16 93 N
BAE SYSTEMS Y 9 0 N
Boeing Y 32 41 34
Bombardier Y 15 24 N
EADS Y 19 65 7
Lockheed Y 2 25 N
Northrop Y 6 31 N
Pratt & Whitney Y 0 0 N
Raytheon N 3 13 13
Thales N 0 53 8

Out of all these microsites, here are some of my favorite highlights:

  • Boeing’s onsite videos were very professional and to the point. They produced 32 reports for the show (most of them on site) while maintaining a very high level of quality and interesting content. Boeing posted their videos in their own library, while Bombardier, EADS, Lockheed, and Raytheon used YouTube to store their videos which I think might get them more views in the long run.
  • Of those that posted their show schedule and show contact information, I liked how Boeing linked the executives’ pictures and bio right from the schedule page. I think it is important to show attendees who is who at the show so they can be recognized from their picture.
  • BAE Systems and EADS provided 3D guided tours of their booths with links to the various product and programs being displayed. I found this particularly interesting for power users who will want to plan their visit ahead of time. Thales also provided a booth description along with a “how to find us” page which I found very useful.
  • Raytheon provided a nice media coverage section with links to stories from other media organizations about Raytheon. I think this was a clever way to provide more content on the microsite.

For the top industrial players, Farnborough also saw a significant uptake in the use of Twitter. While EADS and SuperJet just joined the platform for the show, most of the others took advantage of the social media tool to distribute their information online and bring people to their dedicated microsites. Most advertised their Twitter presence online with some of them, such as Boeing, even providing an integrated twitter feed applet. A comparison of the numbers of followers from a year ago shows the undeniable uptake in microblogging:

Twitter Account Followers at 2009 Paris Air Show Followers at 2010 Farnborough
@BoeingAirplanes 0 7256
@LockheedMartin 268 4339
@NorthropGrumman 680 3139
@RaytheonCompany 625 2909
@EmbraerAeronaut 3 1673
@PrattandWhitney 351 1485
@Bombardier 53 1419
@BAESystemsInc 0 1146
@ThalesGroup 76 728

But not all companies did well when it comes to online presence at Farnborough. Embraer, General Dynamics, GE, and Rolls-Royce had NO online presence. Airbus, BAE Systems Corporate, General Dynamics and Rolls-Royce don’t even have a Twitter account! Also, the Airbus, EADS, and Thales microsites did not offer the now standard “Share” button for users to be able to disseminate information throughout the social media cloud. I think this will turn out to be a significant disadvantage in the future.

With their new website and Farnborough microsite, I think Boeing has really taken the lead in online presence and is a great example to follow. Some of the others had original ideas that are worth noting as well. However, I think the show organizers and the smaller exhibitors once again missed the opportunity to make a difference online which continues to disappoint.

What were your thoughts about Farnborough online?  What are the things you liked and didn’t like? Please share your views in the comments below. All opinions are welcomed!

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