Addressing Order-to-Cash Pain Points with Automation Strategies

By Jennifer Choo

KEY TAKEAWAY

It is becoming more and more evident that the order-to-cash process must be reconditioned with automation in order to simplify and streamline it, especially for industries with media buys that rely heavily on O2C to process and recognize revenues. 

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Order-to-cash (O2C) causes pain points across a number of business in various industries — notably in the media marketing and publishing industries. Because of the nuances of each business and process, there is no simple out of the box solution that is an exact fit for any industry, whether they are B2B or B2C. 

What is uniform across all industries utilizing O2C is the need to reduce process times, eliminate error margins, decrease manual labor and increase efficiency.

To achieve this, business must implement and execute a well thought out order-to-cash process. Doing so will improve every aspect of both the customer journey and the company’s bottom line. 

Many of the processes involved in O2C are repeatable and scalable, meaning they are prime candidates for automation. It is becoming more and more evident that the order-to-cash process must be reconditioned with automation in order to simplify and streamline it, especially for industries with media buys.

Why Order-to-Cash is an Ongoing Pain Point

From a 10,000-foot view, order-to-cash is a seemingly simple process.  Orders are received, processed, sent through billing and revenue is recognized. But anyone using order-to-cash in their business workflow will tell you that it’s much more complicated than it seems.

Reviewing the O2C workflow in any company reveals that a number of processes are involved. Many of these include manual aspects that create higher costs, elevate error margins, increase delays and limit scalability. This is especially relevant in the media and publishing industries where growth is critical and scalability hinges on resolving O2C pain points.

That being said, the thought of reengineering long standing order-to-cash processes can seem daunting. For many this involves enabling new systems, integrating different business units and systems together, updating to a modern data collection model and syncing a proper tech stack. All of this is required to execute a well-functioning automated O2C process.
 
Often times the perceived complexity of such an undertaking will drive companies to put off automating their O2C processes. However, the necessity of automation has become more apparent than ever in the wake of the pandemic. 

Identifying O2C Pain Points Across the Media & Publishing Industries

The publishing and media industries are encountering a need for scalability in their ad campaign business now more than ever. Order volume is out-scaling manual elements of existing processes to execute campaigns, particularly in companies with an ever-growing large daily volume of short-lived ad placements. 

No trafficking team, no matter how skilled they may be, has the ability to execute 100% accuracy when manually processing hundreds of ad campaigns every day. From tag checkers, to the volume of unique URLs needed for creatives, to requests for targeting large sets of DMAs, to endless rule sets and executing a wide variety of product packages for their clients, it all comes down to reducing the manual aspects of these repeatable processes.

These are all essential to allow for scale with ease. This will also limit error margins almost completely. And all of this can be achieved through automation.

In reality, the repeatable aspects of trafficking workflows, target sections, creating unique targeting rules and UTM trackers, DMA cloning and setting rule sets are all prime candidates for automation. Executing a wellrounded automation strategy to address these aspects of O2C will free up bandwidth for tasks and process that must be manual and thus again easily allow for scale. 

Why Automating O2C Processes is Crucial for Media Marketing & Publishing Industries

Order-to-cash issues in publishing and media can be both internal and external. However, they all involve the ad placement campaign cycle. Internal processes involve inventory management, subscription management, order process, and ad placements. Processes that are external include order processing, ad management, programmatic, and audience management.  

Of course, there are some crossover points between the two, as some processes involve the client needs (advertising) and the means to flight ads (audience management and inventory management). All effect the bottom line in terms of profit. 

O2C processes regularly involve segmentation which generally tends to be a manual process. The more manual the process, the longer the campaign completion times, resulting in extended periods of time between order placements and recognized revenue.

Streamlining an ad placement campaign cycle based on an order-to-cash workflow with automation will make processes more efficient, creating smaller to zero error margins while enabling publishers and media marketing companies to complete order cycles and recognize revenue faster. 

Real World Examples

Take, for example, the process of manually selecting rule sets in ad trafficking. Rule sets are a standard element in the O2C process and often come with a high margin of error pain point. For each campaign, ad and platform, a particular rule set must be implemented to meet the client’s targeting criteria. Multiply this by hundreds or thousands per day and you have the perfect scenario for errors to occur. These types of errors effect ad performance and tracking UTM’s causing significant inaccuracies in reporting.

Thankfully simple and repeatable aspects of the ad trafficking workflow, like rule sets, are perfectly constructed for automation.

 

Although the particular type of automation will vary depending on the use case, automating these elements will greatly reduce inaccuracies and speed up campaign cycles.

The Theorem team has resolved this particular pain point and many others in our clients’ O2C workflows utilizing automation. Resulting in the elimination of errors, accurate tracking and reporting, expedited campaign completion and reduce delays in revenue recognition.

In the same vein, many publishing, media and streaming companies have a vast array of product packages available to their ad clients.  Some, like industry leading music streaming service providers, are offering 50+ types of product packages, each with their own set of guidelines for trafficking, enabling a host of issues that can occur during campaign setup, deployment and reporting.

In this instance, trafficking appropriately and enabling the correct tags for reporting is key to successful campaign execution. Again, reducing manual efforts and human error margins is essential and the best way to do so is through automated DMA updating capabilities. 

This is a solution that the Theorem team has implemented for a number of clients within the media and streaming industries with great success. 

In Conclusion

The order-to-cash process has become more arduous as the digital ad market has grown. This is particularly true within the publishing and media marketing industries.

In markets that rely heavily on order-to-cash workflows for recognized revenue, the answer is simple: Optimize your O2C workflows with automation to eliminate error margins, reduce delays in revenue recognition, increase bandwidth and ensure scalability.

As media marketing scales, the need for automated simple and accurate solutions to O2C pain points becomes more critical.

Work with an experienced partner to develop custom automation solutions for those tasks and processes within the O2C workflow that are repeatable and scalable. Doing so will optimize and simplify your order to cash processes and ensure business growth for years to come. 

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