Are independent audits the key to keeping exhibitor interest in a tough marketplace for show organizers? That's the belief of the Computer Event Marketing Association (CEMA), which helped finance the audit of the National Association of Broadcasters annual show, held in April in Las Vegas. The show is the word's largest electronics exhibition. CEMA members Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Microsoft also helped pay for the audit.

NAB is the latest high-profile show to join CEMA in its efforts to make standardized independent audits “the de facto audience verification process in the trade show technology industry,” according to CEMA president Kimberly Gishler. Others endorsing independent show audits include the International Association for Exposition Management and the Trade Show Exhibitors Association.

“The independent audit movement is being driven by exhibitors who, understandably, are taking a hard look at the ROI of shows,” says Chris Brown, NAB senior vice president, conventions. “This sort of exhibitor-initiated effort is a wake-up call to show managers.” Brown says NAB had been already considering an independent audit when CEMA approached the association.