Glenn Hansen has been president-CEO of BPA Worldwide for 15 years. He spends a good deal of the year traveling between the audit agency's offices in Connecticut, Beijing, Dubai, London, Toronto and Shenzhen, China. Media Business: What are the biggest trends you're seeing in b-to-b audience development? Glenn Hansen
: We're seeing more members moving to our Brand Report—we're over 300 now. That tells me media owners find this service matches their needs, communicating the value of multichannel solutions. This will continue to grow. Along those lines, audience developers are moving to a truly integrated database whereby they can determine the user's touch points and engagement across channels. Some are doing this in-house, some through new offerings at traditional fulfillment houses and others through specialty data information companies; regardless, the trend is integration. The ability to track users across channels and identify likely interested parties is key to producing contacts that media owners and marketers can convert to leads. Recognizing where each subscriber interacts and how frequently will help media owners better market their brands. MB: With the quick growth of tablets and mobile devices, what should publishers be doing to keep better track of their customers on these platforms? Hansen:
Media owners need to know who has downloaded an app, are they using it, at what frequency and regularity. Unfortunately, efforts can be hampered by the conduit of the download. Media owners and their service providers are finding the conduit workaround to register users and track. More needs to be done. Also, there is a disconnect with media buyers in that they have been known to assume that tablet versions are digital and therefore as easily tracked as websites. Not true. It could be true, but it is not. The media owner can be handcuffed by the vendor of the app. Even when users opt to share information with the owner of the app, it is extremely limited information. Buyers and media owners are equally frustrated by this vendor-created reality. MB: With so many changes to media consumption, how do you see audience-development auditing changing in the next few years? Hansen:
Auditing of audience development activity will change in parallel. Information is increasingly integrated, calling for specialized audit techniques that we are all expecting will be more efficient. Where registration information is lacking, survey methodology will be inserted. Through the survey, deeper information will be gathered of users. Where integrated databases are lacking, surveys will be used to identify cross-channel use. We are seeing this in the U.K. I'm not certain if the market in the U.S. will move in a more accelerated pace toward integration, thus nullifying the need for survey to yield marketable information. The perfect world is elusive and ephemeral.