IDEX 2017 saw bigger public interest compared to earlier years


The International Defence Exhibition & Conference, or IDEX was held in Abu Dhabi from 19-23 February. Referred to as the largest defence exhibition in the Middle East, this event attracts over 100,000 attendees to Abu Dhabi. There are a lot of news headlines and media coverage due to high-profile defence hardware purchases announced by the host country UAE and other armed forces around the world.

In this article, we take a quick look at the mainstream media coverage of the event, coverage within industry  (defence and intelligence) sources and public interest on the event. Data and insights for this analysis come from Locus Elite.

Coverage within industry sources

IDEX 2017 saw good coverage within a panel of well-known defence and intelligence websites that we monitored. This panel included sources like IHS Jane’s 360, Intelligence Online, Defense News.  87% of these sources wrote at least one article on the event.

Coverage within mainstream news media

In mainstream news media, there were 2,469 articles covering the event.  28% of these articles came from local (UAE) media, 8% from USA and 6% from UK.  Does this mean the coverage was very good? For that we should compare it with other similar events – which is beyond the scope of this article. Look at how to use benchmarks for PR and Communications.

Public interest

To gauge the public interest on the event, one can look at (i) Social media and (ii) Web searches

Visitors to the event can post their experiences to social media, upload photos and tweet their opinions.  Naturally, volume of social media posts on the event can tell the public interest. On the other hand, when people want to know more about an event, they often Google it.  So looking at the number of google searches on the word “IDEX” in English and Arabic can help us tell the interest level of people. However, social media and web searches aren’t substitutes for each other. Interest in searching for an event signifies more of anticipation and curiosity as opposed to sharing experiences that is generally found in social media.

While we tracked the event across the social media this year and compared it with earlier years, for this post, we shall only focus on interest as seen on web searches.

As seen from the chart below, the interest level for the event in 2017 is bigger compared to past two versions of the event held in 2013 and 2011. This interest, as mentioned above, means that people were either anticipating the arrival of the event or were being curious about the happenings or both. As we can see in the timeline, there was a sudden rise on the day before the event started. This means such an interest was mainly due to curiosity of what the event might have in store or what the event is about in the first place as opposed to anticipation. Such curiosity could be driven partly by the media coverage they saw or marketing activities of the organisers. A gradual build up of searches in the days or weeks leading up to the event would signify anticipation, which isn’t the case here.


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