Unblocking Pains for Finance Leaders at Media Agencies

29 March 2020   |   8 minutes read

Does your agency buy digital media for clients?

With brands now spending 26% of their ad budgets on paid media, you’d be missing a trick if you weren’t. The flipside is that it creates challenges for you. Especially if you’re in charge of your agency’s books.

In this post, we’ll have a look at the three most common headaches media buying causes finance teams. We’ll then show you how you can address them with a little help from tech.

Hold the Nurofen and read on.

Headache 1: What are we spending, and on what?

It’s a simple question. But when you’re buying media for clients, you might as well be asking yourself: “How long is a piece of string?

Most media buyers pay for ads with a company credit card or insertion orders. And that’s where the problem lies.

Credit card transactions have generic descriptions — ‘Facebook’ or ‘LinkedIn’, for instance, plus a sequence of numbers. So, before you can invoice clients, you’ll need to log on to your media buying platform and figure out which spend on which campaign matches each line item on your statement.

Given that you’re probably running multiple campaigns for several clients concurrently, that’s a mammoth task. An agency we spoke to during our market research said that, on a typical month, it takes their finance team two full days to match all their paid media transactions.

If that weren’t enough, the credit card probably isn’t used for media buying only, but also for discretionary spending. This means you’ll have to weed out irrelevant transactions before getting to work on reconciliation.

Insertion orders have similar problems. It’s rarely clear which campaign each transaction is referring to. To confuse matters further, some amounts may be for ads that haven’t run yet.

Taking the pain out of reconciliation

Reconciling ad spend is so messy because there’s no visibility. It’s unclear which campaign each transaction relates to, so your team has to sort things out manually. And because credit card providers issue statements only once a month (and media buying platforms display actual spend after 48 hours), you can only do this after the fact.

Prepaid cards linked to a spend and expense management platform can solve the problem by eliminating the need to match transactions.

Soldo, for instance, lets you create company cards — separate cards — for each client, campaign, or media type. You’ll be instantly able to tell what each transaction relates to, without having to slave away like Bob Cratchit on Christmas Eve.

Headache 2: Knowing your limits

Assuming your agency meets the provider’s eligibility criteria, reckons you could get a credit card limit of between £10,000 and £50,000. So one client could put you in danger of maxing out your card.

The upshot is that you may be stuck in an endless cycle of applying for higher limits or new credit cards — a process that can take several days at best. Even then, media buying staff may not be aware which credit card is close to the limit. So they may unwittingly rack up charges and hurt your agency’s credit score.

Take away the limits and keep control

Unlike credit cards, prepaid virtual and physical cards leave the limit-setting to you. This means you can base them on your clients’ budgets, instead of being tied to a third-party provider’s eligibility criteria.

Being able to set your own limits also means you can make sure everyone stays on track. And because you can adjust them to suit your needs, your media buying team won’t be in danger of having its spending cut off in the middle of a campaign.

Headache 3: When time-sucking tasks get in the way

While reconciliation usually falls to your team, you can’t get it right on your own. Unless your media buyers keep meticulous records, it’ll be difficult to figure out where the money went and what to invoice clients.

An agency we spoke to said their media buying team loses as much time as finance — two days a month — to this admin. This is time they could’ve spent planning and optimising campaigns and delivering more value to clients.

The sheer amount of work is also demoralising. People have left their jobs because they couldn’t cope. And who can blame them, when they’ve picked a creative career but have to spend a serious chunk of their time crunching numbers?

Finance automation kills admin

The beauty of automation is that it takes care of all the boring, repetitive tasks for you. Case in point, company cards keep spending organised, so you know at a glance which client, campaign, or platform a transaction relates to.

You can invoice clients more quickly, without having to spend days sifting through statements or chasing the media buying team. And you have more time to get on with other work.

Don’t let admin put the brakes on your performance

The biddable media market is expected to hit $27.2 billion in value by 2024. But while paid media will continue to be a cornerstone of your clients’ marketing strategies for the foreseeable future, you don’t have to resign yourself — and your team — to chronic headaches.

With finance automation, you’ll do less admin and empower the media buying team. You’ll both do better work, and have a more enjoyable, more satisfying workday to boot.

Is biddable media making your team’s heads hurt? Find out how Soldo can make things process simpler and more straightforward.

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