Tell us about
and its iCompli division.
BPA was founded in 1931 as a
not-for-profit membership organization owned by the industry (its
members). We were originally created by advertiser, advertising agency
and media owners to provide the industry with assurance via an audit of
audience claims that what the media member was selling to the advertiser
was true. Our latest offering, “Ad
iCompli,” measures and scores online ad campaign performance for
business and consumer marketers. Our reports are used by advertisers to
assess the quantity and quality of a delivered audience.
We have the largest membership of any
media-auditing organization in the world, spanning nearly 30 countries.
Globally, BPA audits 3,200+ media channels including B-to-B
publications, consumer magazines, newspapers, web sites, events, email
newsletters, databases, mobile, social and other advertiser-supported
media. 2,700 advertiser and ad agencies are members as well. All of this
is done to standards established by our board of directors representing
Over the last decade, we found our organization evolving by member
demand such that BPA began transforming from an auditor of media against
BPA standards to checking compliance with criteria set by other
We launched iCompli in 2008 to provide third-party assurance and
certification services for organizations which issue standards but do
not have a compliance checking arm. Meanwhile, our other division, BPA
Media, continues to provide audit services for the media industry.
How did you start out with BPA?
joined BPA as an auditor in New York in January 1980 and have held
management positions in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. I have
served as President and CEO since 1999.
How is BPA/iCompli involved with the
We have been performing event
audits to standards written by other governing bodies, including
UFI and the
Exhibition and Events
Industry Audit Commission (EEIAC) under the auspices of the
IAEE) . Depending on their needs, we’ve tailored our offerings to
suit tradeshow organizers, including basic attendance audits
(quantitative data only); full event audits (quantitative and
qualitative) ; and
Event Insights – audited audience data combined with post show
research of attendees. We also sit on the audit committees for both UFI
and EEIAC and continue to help shape the industry standards.John:
Has the tradeshow industry embraced the idea of independent event
In the UK, BPA is the certifying body to perform audits for the
Association of Exhibition Organisers
(AEO). In China, we perform event audits to help organizers meet the
parameters of the municipal government’s tradeshow incentive program
Yes and no. While our event audit
service has been embraced in other parts of the world, namely the UK,
Mid East and Asia – and we are seeing uptake in South America and Mexico
– this is largely to satisfy UFI or governmental requirements. This does
not exist in the US. In most cases, show organizers in the US are aware
of event audits but believe a show audit leads to unnecessary costs and
intrusive processes. Add in the fact that exhibitors simply are not
asking for audits and it is easy to see why audited attendance data is
not widely used in the USA.
However, as the global economy continues down an uncertain road,
marketers across all media platforms are being held more accountable for
every spending decision. As a result, the need for accurate,
independently audited attendance data in the marketplace is becoming
ever more important. Event audits are the obvious answer to both
organizers – who can use audited data to set their show apart from their
competitors – and exhibitors – who can use attendance demographics to
choose the right event, staff appropriately and provide accountability
to senior management.
It’s been a longer road than we originally anticipated, but event audits
are starting to resonate with some US-based organizers, including
Expo! Expo!, the Healthcare
Convention and Exhibition Association and the
San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.
And now BPA is moving into the
sustainability side of the tradeshow business?
initiatives. Event professionals who can incorporate sustainability
practices into their offerings can gain a competitive advantage and win
business from socially responsible and environmentally conscious
clients. As tradeshow organizers – and their suppliers – increasingly
demand that “people, planet, profit” become a part of everyday business
transactions, it’s important to know how your business fits in. That’s
where iCompli assurance services come in.
For the most part, iCompli certifies to two
leading standards to assist those in the tradeshow industry as they
advance their sustainability agenda. First, we certify to the
Green Meetings Industry Council’s
Industry Council’s (CIC) developed standard published through
ASTM International. The industry has defined nine elements of the
supply chain, including destination/visitor’s bureau, venue, food &
beverage, transportation, accommodation, A/V company, staging and booth
construct, communications & marketing and the on-site sales office. The
standard defines the considerations for selection in the event supply
chain by environmentally conscious event planners.
The second option is the
International Standards Organization (ISO) and its standard
“20121” – Event Sustainability
Management System The ISO standard addresses the management of
improved sustainability across the full event management cycle. An
excellent tool for planners is the
Planning Program. It is an online system that fosters compliance
with both the ISO and ASTM standards.
Has the tradeshow industry embraced the
idea of independent event audits?
We have received tremendous feedback. In just 18 months, we have
certified more than 20 venues, tourism boards and suppliers to both the
ASTM and ISO standards. To date, we’ve performed certifications for
Colorado Convention Center,
Las Vegas Sands Expo & The Congress
Center, Hong Kong
Convention & Exhibition Centre,
Global Experience Specialists (GES) and
Centerplate, to name a few.
We are very optimistic that those in the industry will continue to
embrace sustainability as a best practice and use certification to
position themselves as market leaders.
It’s really an exciting time as we help leading organizations set the
sustainability bar within the tradeshow industry.
Thank you Glenn for a great interview. I leaned many fascinating aspects
of BPA Worldwide and am impressed by the work you are doing. I am sure
the many industry leaders and others in the trade show industry who see
this interview will appreciate the contribution you are making to the