Hoping to dodge the hassle and cost of real-life trade shows, more companies are heading online to show off their wares. The San Jose Mercury News takes a look at this new, virtual business terrain, and what companies are doing with it. The online shows cost about $25,000 and boast 3D graphics and social networking features. One big advantage: It's easier to track attendees' activities and translate them into sales leads.
Virtual attendees can gather for presentations, collect business cards, and question sales reps, all under the careful scrutiny of site organizers. "We track everything that occurs in our environment," says a spokesman for a company that organizes such shows. "We provide (companies) a list: Here's the leads, here's what they did, they downloaded a white paper, they went to conference session."