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Ask an Expert: Auditing Event ROI

October 10, 2005, 12:00 AM EDT

Ask an Expert: Auditing Event ROI

Glenn Hansen is the president of BPA Worldwide, which audits the circulation of a variety of media, including many magazines and newspapers. BPA’s event auditing division provides marketers with hard data on the outcomes of their events.

What made BPA want to get into event auditing?
More publishers are now content management companies, in that their content is going out through various platforms. We see the opportunity for a content management company to look at its brand and say, “Our brand has many touch points, we need to measure each of those touch points so that we’ll have an audit of our integrated media solution.”

Describe the process of auditing an event.
It starts with having a database of attendees. We’re interested inthose who actually attend, so in addition to the registration database,there has to be a mechanism by which the attendee is verified as havingbeen present. At a big trade show, it might be bar-code badges that getscanned. Then we wish to speak about the demographic vitality of thoseattendees, and that is derived from a demographic questionnaire in theregistration process. So for a trade show, we’re looking at what typeof industry, occupation, buying influence. For a small conference or[other type of] event, it’s whatever the organizer needs to [describe]to the sponsor the quality of the audience.

How far in advance should you plan to have an event audited?
To do it perfectly, it would be in advance of producing your firstregistration materials. If it’s an afterthought, we can accommodate youup to the day before the event, but there you don’t get the benefit ofa lot of planning.

What are the benefits of auditing an event?
You want to give the person who’s going to decide to sponsor or in someway financially contribute to your event some accountability. In theadvertising world at major corporations everyone is concerned about adspend and that the return on the investment is measured. In the eventworld for too long now, there have been very weak tools to measure theeffect of attending, sponsoring, or exhibiting at an event. Theexternal benefit is a sales tool to help demonstrate credibility andaccountability. On the internal side, it helps organizers have adequateprocedures and systems in place to track attendance and the value ofthe attendees.

What’s the value of having an outside auditor?
Credibility. Would you buy stocks in a country that audits its ownfinancials? You need to have third-party independent work before youcan have accountability and credibility.

Erin Parker

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