Wizard World Jumps Off Printed Page and Into Digital Age

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attract more readers to the website and visitors to his conventions. According to Wizard World’s regulatory filings, the company generated $3 million in revenue for the year ended December 31, 2010 from its conventions, up from $2.1 million in 2009. Wizard World operated at a net loss of some $27,000 in 2010 compared with a net loss of more than $829,000 in 2009. The company ran eight live events in 2010 compared with three in 2009. Wizard World plans to host conventions in 12 cities this year and wants to increase its online traffic by delivering more multimedia content from its live events.

Superheroes, space captains, and their ilk are enjoying a renaissance these days with the public that has embraced characters that were once primarily loved by dedicated fans. “Movies and TV shows have broadened the audience dramatically,” Shamus says.

Much like Peter Parker gaining powers through a spider bite, Wizard World has gone through its own recent transformations. The company went public via a reverse merger completed last December with GoEnergy, an exploration-stage mining company, and currently trades on the Pink Sheets. In January, Wizard World’s print publications, Wizard and ToyFare magazines, ceased production.

Wizard magazine, which launched the company in 1991, featured news on the comic book industry including movies and other media based on heroes while ToyFare, which began in 1997, produced stories on collectible action figures and statues. Shamus says the move to an all-online format was necessary given the changes in the media industry. “There have been huge dynamic shifts in terms of how people consume content,” he says. Wizard World’s digital strategy, he says, gives the company direct access to its consumers as opposed to shipping print publications through distributors. “I didn’t want to have any intermediaries between us and our fans,” Shamus says.

His company now offers its content through its website and its weekly digital Wizard World magazine that is available through an iPad app released in March. “We are working on our iPhone and Android apps,” Shamus says.

Gareb Shamus (center) spends his days hanging out with Spider-Man and his amazing friends. (photo by Geek Propaganda)

Wizard World conventions, Shamus says, give fans access to the creators at comic book and gaming companies as well as stars of genre movies and television shows. The company runs conventions in such cities as New York, Boston, Anaheim, Philadelphia, and New Orleans. “It’s about creating a footprint locally but being able to market nationally,” Shamus says. That geographic spread, he says, lets his company connect advertisers and sponsors with this diverse audience in combination with the Web-based content. “We can deliver a 365-day-a-year experience where we reach people in-person and online,” he says.

Though there’s plenty of competition, Shamus says the depth of Wizard World’s reach is difficult to match. Wizard World has built up a large volume of consumer data through fans who subscribed to its news and attendees who come to the company’s conventions. “We have over one million people in our database,” he says. “We can clearly identify these people demographically. A lot of people in our world don’t have those resources.”

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