Paying for Digital Advertising is Harder Than It Looks

Posted by Randy Shonfeld on Nov 12, 2013 5:46:00 AM

Randy-SchonfeldI like to shop – but I hate to wait in line to pay. If you ever think life is passing you by too fast, go to a department store on a Saturday, buy a sweater or pair of pants and watch things seize up at the cash register.

In working with advertising agencies, I have learned they have a similar problem. Digital advertising has expanded from a minor niche to a significant part of every ad budget. But unlike TV, radio, print and outdoor advertising, the terms, the deals and the very media themselves are evolving fast – which means that invoicing is all over the map. Every publisher or online advertising outlet includes different information on its invoices and formats them in its own unique way. That spells trouble for the accounts payable team at the agency when they try to run digital advertising invoices through their automated processes. The invoices generate exceptions – meaning that a human being has to pull them from the process and try to make sense of the information they contain. The result is slow processing, higher costs and a rising backlog.

Fortunately, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has been working to create a standard format for digital advertising invoices. And the Mad Men and Women who are responsible for paying bills have reason to celebrate. By reducing the variations and defining what information should be on every invoice, the standard will make a big dent in exceptions. If is properly implemented, that is.

IPS is making its own contribution to the celebration. We have created the IPS Digital Invoice as a best-practice model of the new standard – and have watched it minimize the discrepancies that turn a streamlined, automated process into a manual one. Publishers that adopt our model invoice can start providing a standard-compliant invoice right now – one that is processed faster, at lower cost and with far less human intervention. It may not be as satisfying as getting a great outfit on markdown, but it gets you out of the line a whole lot sooner.