Audits, Attendance and the Mac Media

The folks at The Consumer Electronics Association, the people who put on CES each year in Las Vegas, sent out a press release to the media trumpeting their attendance figures for the show this past January. The numbers are staggering.

3,319 exhibitors (up 22% over last year), 5,000 media, 1.86 million net square feet of exhibit space and a record 156,153 attendees.

These numbers are from an independent audit of CES so it’s fair to assume they are accurate. Why is that important? Well, CES is going to charge any number of people, including exhibitors, based on those numbers. The higher the attendance figures, the more popular the show is, the more CES can charge vendors. Accurate, audited numbers serve everyone well.

Contrast that with IDG, the organization that put on the Macworld|iWorld show this past January. In the past, and only for a few years, IDG independently audited and announced attendance figures for the show. But as the show has become smaller, they have stopped doing those audits and only release rough guesses on the number of attendees. IDG claims an estimated 25,000 people at this past show.

My guess is that number is high if only because it’s the exact same number of attendees IDG reported for the show in 2011 even though the 2012 show was smaller and less busy.

Many people will say it doesn’t matter but IDG works the same way CES does – higher numbers means higher charges to exhibitors. If you were going to exhibit at next year’s Macworld|iWorld, wouldn’t you like accurate attendance figures to help you judge whether the show is worth your company’s hard earned dollars?

Before 2004, IDG management announced attendance figures moments after the show floor closed. Those of us in the Mac Media knew those numbers were pulled out of thin air and were “optimistic” to be generous. In 2004, IDG started auditing the numbers and, while attendence “fell” dramatically, we felt better knowing the attendance figures were more accurate. Unfortunately, they stopped in 2007.

Let’s see how many in the Mac Media follow up on the CES press release and ask IDG Management about independent audits of Macworld|iWorld attendance. I predict you’ll be able to count them on the fingers of one hand, if at all.

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