BPA Worldwide Creates Comprehensive Reporting Standards For Virtual Events

BPA Worldwide, the 91-year-old agency that provides third-party audits of B2B and consumer media brands, this week announced a set of reporting standards for digital events. With the pandemic-induced shift to virtual platforms over the last two years, the news comes at a timely moment.

The initiative, called Reporting Standards for Digital Events, enhances transparency for event producers, exhibitors and event-platform vendors. It lays out a standardized set of 17 metrics that virtual events should report and establishes a glossary of terms so all stakeholders are operating on the same page.

It was created by a BPA-led working group of representatives from 15 organizations representing trade show organizers, exhibitors, data analysts and digital platforms.

“The goal for these standards is to serve as a guide for digital platforms to adopt to help organizers accurately and efficiently report on metrics,” BPA CEO Glenn Hansen said. “With RSDE, event organizers, exhibitors, digital-event platforms and data analysts now have the tools to bring more trust and transparency into the digital-event marketplace.”



The standardized metrics include basics such as total attendees, titles, time in session and level of engagement (chats, networking, meetings).

In addition, the RSDE provides a sample CSV file for DEPs to follow; an RFP template for organizers to use when shopping for a platform provider; a contract terms and conditions template, and three separate “User’s Guides” for organizers, exhibitors and DEPs.

One impediment that RSDE seeks to eliminate is the understanding of data sets by both organizers and exhibitors.

“With the move to digital events, people were excited they were going to have all this data, and a much better picture of what was happening,” said David Richardson, principal at the data-analytics firm Cogknition. “But when they received reports from the event platforms, not only did they lack confidence that they understood what was happening at their events, but they also weren't sure they understood what the report was trying to say. With RSDE, they get a much better understanding of what they are seeing.”

Added Robyn Davis, owner at the event-consulting firm Exhibitors WINH and a member of the RSDE working group: “RSDE will provide organizers and exhibitors the information they need (and have been eagerly awaiting) to understand and evaluate the impact of digital events, ultimately driving a cycle of continuous improvement.”

Hansen added BPA will begin certifying DEPs to the RSDE standards immediately.

Event data provided by verified DEPs will be “pre-audited” by BPA for inclusion in applications for “UFI Approved Event” status or for inclusion in any organizers’ event marketing materials. UFI — a global association for the events industry — certifies events based on criteria that includes whether a show is audited, takes place in an appropriate venue, marketing materials are available in English, and more. 

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