BPA chief finds IT hampering monetization

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Glenn Hansen has been running BPA Worldwide for more than a decade. He joined the circulation auditing firm as an auditor in 1980 and became president-CEO in 1999. MB: What new things are you seeing? Hansen: We're finding, in conversations with audience development teams, that things [BPA is] doing to integrate media channels aren't getting done because people are a little afraid of IT. We used to have people say, “OK, this is what we're going to do; now go do it.” That's changed. It's funny. I'm used to people complaining about their CFOs and the bottom line, [but] for the last six months, it's been all about IT. ... Everybody is trying to do social media. They're doing e-newsletters. They're trying to figure it all out. So people can't do these things as quickly as you'd like sometimes. MB: Has that affected BPA? Hansen: We struck an arrangement with Nielsen Online nearly a year and a half ago to audit Web sites, and there are nearly 600 sites in the system. I would've thought we'd be close to a thousand now. When I go back and talk to some of these companies, they say, “Well, the IT guy ... .” I can't believe that's what's holding up an opportunity here for companies to better monetize the whole integrated media plan. MB: How do you think audience developers should use social media? Hansen: Personally, [I think] Facebook is for friends and family, and LinkedIn is all business. It feels like, with Twitter, that your knowledge goes up but it doesn't influence buying decisions. Social media is customer relations. It's not about advertising your brand. It's about customer service, listening to them, making sure your product works for them. MB: How do you see e-readers affecting the circ industry? Hansen: When the e-reader is ubiquitous and contains communications abilities, that's when it will be a platform that people will go to and consume because their experience will be so much better: [You have] four colors. You can get into the ad. You can inquire about a product. You can get right online about a product that is written about in a b-to-b magazine or newspaper. Before the iPad was launched, we really didn't think full color would happen [in e-readers] until 2011. And until Apple works out its Flash problem, it still isn't likely until 2011. We are gathering a lot of information now so we can go out to e-reader manufacturers and be sure they are making products that will serve ad-supported publications, which is obviously a whole different animal than books. We need to be sure the analytics can be picked up from these devices because, when the experience is optimal, use will skyrocket.
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