BPA Teams Up with PMMI to Audit Zigma Dashboard
How two former partners worked together to stay together, developing new auditing protocols to back PMMI's real-time, client-facing audience data platform.
Last year, when PMMI Media Group announced the launch of Zigma, its proprietary, real-time, client-facing audience dashboard, it appeared as though the need for immediacy in data reporting would trump the traditional, intervaled auditing process—effectively ending the publisher's 20-year relationship with auditing firm BPA Worldwide.
But just a few months later, the two former partners are getting back together.
PMMI Media Group, the publishing arm of the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, and BPA Worldwide have reached an official agreement under which the latter has developed new auditing protocols to help ensure advertisers that Zigma's real-time audience reporting across PMMI's various channels—not just print, but digital, email, social media, and events—is both accurate and consistent.
"What we asked of BPA was, we want to be responsible for the day-to-day of how we keep our records, how we classify a reader, etc.," PMMI Media Group VP/publisher Jim Chrzan tells Folio:. "We want to be flexible to meet market needs and respond to shifts in industries, titles, and duties, but we want you to check behind the scenes so that our database and the processes reporting to the dashboard are correct."
For PMMI, which publishes such titles as Packaging World, Automation World, and Healthcare Packaging, the principal objective was assuring advertisers and sales people alike that the names on its lists were as fresh as possible, and that a greater value was placed on customers who are continually engaged with its content across channels.
Initial perceptions may have been that the two companies were simply moving in separate directions, that BPA's wait-and-submit auditing process meant applying an antiquated model to a 21st century, data- and digital-first publisher. But BPA wasn't about to go away quietly.
"They've been longtime customers of ours," says Peter Black, SVP of business development for BPA Worldwide. "They said, 'This is the direction in which we're moving with this Zigma dashboard that we have, and if that's the case, I don't know that we can have that audited.' So we said, 'Let's take a look at this and see if that's the case.'"
The resulting weeks-long process involved a series of boardroom meetings, phone calls, and back-and-forth conversations between the two partners.
Black continues, "We had conversations to put together an audit process that consists of two parts: one, with the audience database, verifying that all of the information they have is accurate, and then doing an audit of their internal system that's managing the database, to make sure that it operates correctly and provides accurate audience information as well."
A sticking point for PMMI was the BPA's required six-month statements, which Chrzan calls "just a day captured in time for a six-month report," an unnecessary drain on his team to produce a report from data readily available on the Zigma dashboard.
"But BPA wanted it to be fair because their other members have to do these statements," adds Chrzan. "We spent weeks showing the BPA team that they can get everything that they want out of Zigma to produce the statement, and so we're both fine there. Both organizations are happy, and both demonstrated real flexibility."
A full audit of PMMI's database was first necessary to establish a "benchmark," as Black calls it. Moving forward, BPA will only need to audit changes made to the database, a model that Black says may soon be expanded to more of BPA's hundreds of publishing clients.
"We're still working on some of the metrics, and certainly we'll be organizing for the profile of the audience—demographics and geographics—but increasingly we're being asked to audit engagement or activity, frequency of use, duration of use," Black continues. "Those types of metrics are becoming increasingly important, not just to PMMI, but to lots of publishers. I think that's kind of going to be the evolution of audience metrics."
To PMMI, the BPA represents not just oversight, but decades of experience conducting audits specific to the publishing world. Chrzan emphasizes that PMMI didn't want to not have an audit, but simply required an audit that reflected the new ways in which the company does business.
"In my opinion, BPA was a beautiful and necessary system set up that made total sense when you had 12 print issues and all publishers were compatible," Chrzan concludes. "Then you added websites, social media, email newsletters, and now you're operating in the 21st century where big data and access to numbers is immediate. Initially we felt BPA had lost the thread. They proved to us they are looking to the future of publishing as well."