BPA Worldwide-Led Working Group Assists UFI in Creating Audit Rules for Digital Events

August 25, 2021

A working group organized by BPA Worldwide has come up with a solution for a pressing need that surfaced after one of the biggest pandemic pivots. An industry standard for reporting metrics was sorely needed for BPA-audited in-person shows that switched to virtual or hybrid events, along with maintaining status as an event approved by UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry.

BPA iCompli Events provides verification of compliance with UFI industry standards for the measurement of trade show attendees and exhibitors.

“During the pandemic, priority one was to establish a digital presence for events that could no longer be held in-person, but with that done and digital events ended, the data had to be analyzed,” said Glenn J. Hansen, president and CEO of BPA Worldwide. “In that process, it was realized that vendors were not defining activity and metrics to a standard.” 

He added that for those organizers wishing to maintain UFI-approved status for their events, there were logical questions as to how to count attendees and exhibitors, as there is no physical country within which a digital event is occurring, and digital exhibit space is not measured in square meters or feet. 

To address the need, BPA Worldwide formed a digital event metrics working group earlier this year made up of UFI, International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE) and the Society of Independent Show Organizers (SISO), as well as show organizers, exhibitors and event tech platform partners. 

Phase one of the working group’s mission was to recommend amendments to the UFI requirements for UFI-approved events. UFI has now released revised auditing rules that include the recommendations of the digital event metrics working group. 

“Now having a standard in place, we have created the definitions and metrics that enable organizers to include audited counts of attendees and exhibitors classified as ‘national’ or ‘international’ for a digital or hybrid event, so they can apply for UFI-approved event status,” Hansen said.

For phase two of the initiative, the group’s intention was to suggest a common and universal interpretation of terms and definitions, and to serve as guidelines for industry players to be more discerning about statistical data released on exhibitions, whether for face-to-face, digital or hybrid models, according to Hansen. 

“With hundreds of digital platforms and the reemergence of the industry in a new era, there is a tremendous need to develop industry standards for taxonomy and data formats for digital events similar to what exists for physical events,” he said. “We are following in the footsteps of the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), which successfully set the standards for the digital advertising industry during its infancy, and, in doing so, helped stabilize and empower the media and marketing industries to thrive during a time of disruptive change.”

Phase two was recently completed, and the recommendations will be released within the next week, Hansen added. 

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