Dan Dancy, director of marketing for the American Public Works Association, is one of the increasing number of show marketing managers who are turning to online advertising to help drive trade show attendance. For the first time, he spent about 10 percent of his show's marketing budget on online advertising for his group's annual 100,000-square-foot-show, held in September this year in Philadelphia.

To tap potential registrants outside of its membership, Dancy bought a package of online and print advertising with the American City & County magazine, which has a core audience similar to the association's membership. The online ads, which linked directly to the association's show registration page from ACC's Web page, began running four months prior to the show.

Dancy says that online registration was up this year, and the association's Web page received a record number of clicks. But he adds that the association currently lacks the technology to show how many people actually registered from those clicks.

One of the things that got him to buy online ads with ACC (a Primedia publication, as is this magazine) was that the publication did a number of things to drive people to its site, including broadcast e-mails and e-newsletters. “This definitely makes a difference,” Dancy notes. “You're not dealing with a passive site.”