I Want My Money – Finance Tips for Working with New Digital Ad Partners

At StudyBreak Media all of our finance procedures are manual. We don’t employ a dedicated accountant and we aren’t big enough for a finance team or, to purchase a tool or platform that allows us to automate any part of our process. However, this doesn’t make the work any less important.

This is also the case for many publishers we’ve met. So, we want to share some specific strategies we’ve implemented that have aided in improving our process in a series we’d like to call “I Want My Money”.

In this first article, we will discuss the steps we take with a new ad partner. Look out for more finance tips in future installments.

1) Vet Them

Before we sign any contracts with a new ad partner, we vet them. This can be as in-depth as your resources allow. A general rule of thumb is to ensure that the new ad partner can provide you with at least two other publisher references. At SBM we’ve found this to be the best way to get more insight into a partner’s payment history.

Another option is to request a copy of their credit application but in our opinion that doesn’t always paint a full picture.

A third option is to do some of your own research. This takes time but can be as simple as doing a search online or as far as ordering a background check on the company. A simple search can often unearth forums where other publishers have complaints or praise for a specific company’s payment history. Don’t solely rely on these reviews, but definitely use the information as part of your decision making process.

2) Document Everything

Congrats! You’ve landed that deal with a new ad partner. Great. Start testing those tags so you can start making money, right!? Well, yes. You will of course need to do that. But BEFORE you do, be sure you have all of the information necessary on file to actually receive a payment.

Sounds really obvious I know, but it is super common for a test to get off the ground before all of the finance information has been confirmed and documented. A lot of publishers will ensure they have the contract (which does not always provide all necessary finance information), the tags and target performance goals established, but have no idea how they are actually supposed to receive the payment. For example, do you know if you are required to invoice to receive payment?

To aid in this process we’ve created a standardized vendor finance form which asks basic, but important, questions to ensure both the ad partner and our team are on the same page with finances.

Here’s the actual form we use at SBM. Feel free to use it as is or modify it to fit your specific needs.

Accounts_Payable_Finance_Form_Screenshot

3) Organize Your Records

One last finance step to complete with a new ad partner is to organize your records. It’s easy to just save all of the completed forms in a folder (make sure you have it backed up somewhere) and then forget about it. But when it’s time to invoice or for you to verify payments are being received within the correct payment terms, it’s best to have some type of summary document which compiles that information for you.

The document can be as detailed as you need it to be but having the key information available in an easy to access manner will make you more prone to actually keeping track later on.

Below is an example of what this might look like. If you have many partners, consider breaking up by payment method or some other qualifier for quick reference.

Finance_SBMBlog

This article discussed just three major finance steps a publisher should take before setting tags live. The main thing to keep in mind is the end goal – ensure timely, accurate payments.

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2 Comments to I Want My Money – Finance Tips for Working with New Digital Ad Partners

  1. Love this entire blog. As a meduim size publisher navigating DFP, ad serving and the entire ad industry while keeping my website is running is quite a challenge.
    I appreciate that your team is taking the time to share your experiences and resources.
    Keep on sharing!

    • Amazing tips Emily! Aaron, feel your pain as well. We work with many media startups who face these same challenges. Sadly, we see too often publishers spending as much time on collections as they do on creative. Vetting and organizational discipline is critical for successfully managing working capital.

      Another tip for invoice collection is the “killing them with kindness” strategy. Consistently emailing “polite” reminders that invoice payment is due can provide powerful results. Your partner’s AP department will get so tired of your emails they’ll pay you to stop flooding their inbox!

      Another strategy is factoring invoices. This allows a publisher to immediately convert an invoice to cash. You can learn more at our website here: http://www.joinharper.com/how-it-works. We’re always around to chat and see if we can be of help!

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