They are worth more where rich people congregate.
Airports are top-of-the-pile. At airports people of well above average income sit around and wait. And they are surrounded by shops or about to go to exotic locations where they will spend-up.
So it is worth exploring Focus Media's history in placing LCD advertisements at airports.
The 20-F filing for 2005 described their plan to expand their LCD network:
into new cities and regions in China and diversify into new networks and advertising channels such as airports, hospitals and other possible commercial locations;
And they already had some panels placed in airports as well as airport shuttle buses and on flights as per this disclosure:
our commercial location network, which refers to our network of flat-panel television displays placed in high-traffic areas of commercial buildings, such as in lobbies and near elevators, as well as in beauty parlors, karaoke parlors, golf country clubs, auto shops, banks, pharmacies, hotels, airports, airport shuttle buses and in-air flights. Our commercial location network is also marketed to advertisers as six separate channels targeting different types of consumers: our premier A and B office building channels, our travel channel, our fashion channel, our elite channel and our healthcare channel.
Exactly the same disclosures occur in the 20-F filing for 2006.
In the 2007 filing the panels placed in airport shuttle buses and flights disappeared, but they still had the panels in airports. The loss of the shuttle buses and in-air flights was never explained. Did they sell the business? Did the owners of the sites kick them out? Simply unexplained.
By the 2008 filing the only airport disclosure remaining was that they planned to expand into new channels such as airports (the exact wording from the 2005 filing remained). They no longer operated in airports.
Was the airport business disposed of? Did they forget they owned it?
The word "airport" does not occur in the 2009 filing or in any of the amended filings that year.
By the 2010 filing they are back in airports as per this disclosure:
The majority of displays on our LCD display network are currently placed in heavy-traffic areas of commercial office buildings. The locations in our LCD display network also include shopping malls, banks, hotels and certain airports. We market our LCD display network to advertisers of consumer products and services, such as automobiles, home electronics, mobile communications devices and services, cosmetics, health products and financial services.
By the 2011 filing the airports had disappeared again.
So I will leave it as a question for the due diligence team. What happened to the business placing screens in airports, airport shuttle buses and in-air flights?
You can of course ask Jason Jiang, the CEO, because all the standard biographies of the man indicate that is how he cut-his-business teeth - installing screens in airport shuttle buses.
PS. Possibly the most spectacular Chinese reverse merger fraud, China Media Express supposedly had screens on airport shuttle buses. Indeed even today you can see Youku videos purporting to count the (non-existent) CCME screens on airport shuttle buses.
I will never look at a video on an airport shuttle bus the same way.