The 4 Big Data (Points) for Trade Shows

All trade show companies have some form of an attendee database. Some are elaborate and expensive while others are off-the-shelf software platforms. They will contain attendance history, demographics, and perhaps other information on attendee’s companies.

In my past life as an audience marketer and circulation guy, I learned the value of multiple touchpoints for your audience—especially in what they are doing with your online offerings. I wanted to create a true integrated, marketing database for GLM bringing together much more data on our attendees than just what shows they attended.

The term “big data” is all the rage now, but how can trade show companies more fully utilize the wealth of information they have acquired about their customers? The fact is this: it is not just about what your audience checks off on a registration or subscription form—it’s about how they interact with all your products. GLM’s Unified Audience Database combines four critical data areas into one platform:

  1. Attendee history — Who registered and attended which shows back to roughly 2004 along with associated demographics.
  2. Email behavior — Information from the last 60 days. What links they clicked can be filtered and searched for in conjunction with all other data points. This data flows in every Sunday night.
  3. Transaction data — From our online product directories. Four of our shows currently have these directories that we call 365 (,, etc.) so when a customer sends a lead to one of our exhibitors or “likes” a product from another, we flow these transactions into our database.
  4. On site hall scan data — When an attendee enters an exhibit hall at one of our shows, we capture the number of times and the entry point.

These four data “buckets” provide GLM with a very cohesive picture of our customers. We use it for identifying VIP candidates for special offers, focus group opportunities, hot leads for attendee marketing and much more.

For show directors, the UAD provides easy-to-produce reports for new exhibitor prospects and for post show reporting. A full picture of attendees with recent online behavior, demographics and geographic details is a snap to create with the user-friendly interface our database features. For marketers, they can create ultra-targeted lists for attendee promotions, seminars and special events. For executive staff, it can provide a 360-degree view of current activity as well as filter on past attendance and compare every show in our portfolio to any others.

The next big question, of course, is how to monetize it.

The UAD launched in January so we have a way to go yet to get to a critical mass of data. The possibilities for revenue generation are still up in the air however.

Imagine a future something like the following: We approach one of our largest exhibitors with custom opportunities to reach a select group of attendees—not only those that attended this many shows but who also clicked on X-number of emails in the last month, who sent more than five leads through our directory and that entered this exhibit hall more than five times last year. Providing that level of engagement, if packaged innovatively, will lead to a new custom revenue stream.

Our UAD was built to make it easy for marketers and show directors to access all the information we have on our customers. Combining attendance data with online behavior leads to more focused prospecting and detailed reporting that gives us a total “big data” view of our universe.

Len Roberto, Jr. is VP of audience data for GLM/ Emerald Expositions.