PMMI Media Group, a B2B media company targeting the packaging market, is in the process of rolling out a client-facing audience dashboard, called Zigma, that will provide realtime counts on the total reach of the company’s media brands.
The catalyst for the project, which will go live in early 2016, was a need for speed. PMMI Media Group VP Jim Chrzan cites a hair-trigger marketing climate that necessitates instant access to data. And as a result of the new dashboard roll-out, the group is ending its 20-year relationship with BPA Worldwide and has opted to adopt different audit protocols through a new firm.
Marketing clients will have access to the dashboard, which will feature audience data across email, web sites, print, social and event attendance. As each of the brands gain new followers on their social platforms, for example, those numbers will update in real time.
“We can react to the marketplace and we don’t have to wait six or nine months for the statements to catch up,” Chrzan says.
That reaction time has become critical to driving more business. New audience segments are created on the fly to launch sponsored newsletters against or devise lead-gen campaigns, for example.
Reps, and even the customers themselves, will have much quicker access to crucial data to base campaign decisions on. Without it, a simple question could set off a chain reaction of phone calls and queries that could grind a potential sale to a halt.
“One of the reps might get a call from a client—‘I’ve got $27,000 left over, what can you do for me?’” says Chrzan. “The rep would have to call a brand operations manager or a customer service rep and then that person would have to contact our data person and suddenly two or three days have gone by. Why shouldn’t the rep see those numbers and, a step further, why shouldn’t the customer see those numbers, too?”
Zigma is an outgrowth of an existing lead-gen platform, also built in-house, called Leadworks, which allows advertisers to track their campaign progress. Marketers can see lead activity, demos, industry breakouts and so on.
Underlying all of this is the speed at which PMMI’s brands are growing, or even contracting, their lists. PMMI’s annual Pack Expo may generate 5,000 requests for Packaging World magazine, and those names should be reflected in the list right away, notes Chrzan. “I want to put them on the list and show that list the day after we put them on,” he says.
Nevertheless, Chrzan wants to keep audit protocols in place. “The last thing I want to do is leave circulation behind,” he says. “In fact, we’re so proud of the responses we get, we want to put it in the forefront.”
This is in spite of the fact that advertisers usually don't ask for audit information, they ask about customer volume.
At issue, however, was the submit-and-wait process for BPA’s audit services. The PMMI Media Group had been using BPA for two decades, and even continued with them when the group brought its audience database operations in-house.
But Chrzan, and VP of digital Dave Newcorn, were frustrated by an inability to reconcile audited data with current data.
“The most important thing,” says Newcorn, “is [the data] will be current. The problem with a third-party auditor statement is you’re looking at something from six months ago. You’re stopping it in time.”
For its part, BPA has continued growing its multi-channel Brand Reports and maintains easy access to the reports online.
“We’ve seen an explosion in the variety of media platforms used by publishers to reach their audiences,” says Peter Black, SVP of business development at BPA Worldwide. “Only two years ago we had 300 Brand Reports showing multiple media channels and today it is over 500 with the total channels reported at 2,100+. And, of course, we have all the audience and channel data online so access is fast and easy.”
But for PMMI, the issues of showing up-to-date audience numbers and having the ability to add new segments without waiting months for approvals and statements persisted. “We’re not stopping anything in terms of the quality or the process, we’re just accelerating it,” says Chrzan.
As a result, the company instead partnered with Tate & Tryon, a public accounting and consulting firm.
The firm will conduct an annual audit, as well as spot checks, much like BPA. But the key difference is PMMI can add a new subject and audience category, begin populating it and customers will see realtime growth in the Zigma dashboard—without having to get an audit approval first.
“Eventually, it will be included in the audit,” says Chrzan. “But we are not waiting 6-9 months for a piece of paper stating the fact.
“We sometimes have to send a statement that is more than six months old,” he adds. “If was accurate back then, it is probably not now. We capture emails every day. Editors add social media followers every day. We want to show that and have a third-party, independent firm come in annually and say ‘your numbers check out.’ So customers can trust the real-time dashboards. We have made a name on our quality circulation. We do not want to sacrifice that, but we do want a more flexible, responsive system that accurately portrays our entire reach for each brand.”