We unpack how the terms "automation" and "AI" differ and where they both fit into the marketing and advertising ecosystem.
Agency and brand leaders, we’re about to give you a jump scare. One disclaimer: We’re not liable for the hives you may soon break out in, nor can we be expensed for any rush-scheduled therapy appointments.
Here we go:
(...Did we scare you?)
OK, we’re being just a tad facetious, but you get the point. Billing is often a stressful part of the advertising campaign lifecycle, a point of frustration for agencies and brands alike, and a snag in otherwise satisfying agency-brand relationships. It makes sense: Finances of any kind come with high stakes, even in times that aren’t marked by talent shortages and economic upheaval. But with the right tools in place, billing doesn’t have to be such a headache.
Read on to learn about automated billing, a resource that streamlines financial reconciliations and creates transparency and trust between agencies and clients.
What does the billing process look like for most agency billing departments? In theory, it’s deceptively simple: Teams must gather billing materials, download billing reports, actualize those bills and, finally, charge clients for the final amounts.
In reality, billing staff are burdened by the consequences of a complex and fragmented media landscape and an industry that’s been slow to adopt processes and tools to address that complexity and fragmentation. Parsing out billing for intricate media packages means that finance teams are stuck compiling and reconciling data between numerous disparate programs and Excel sheets. A report from the 4A’s found that teams
waste spend three hours per day cutting and pasting in order to reconcile finances across many different vendors, channels, and programs. The impact on agencies as a whole, as you might expect, is massive.
To move beyond Excel sheet purgatory, marketing organizations can embrace technologies that streamline the consolidation and delivery of these billing materials. That’s where automated billing comes in.
With automated billing, all media data from a campaign—regardless of its source—is combined and exported to an agency’s accounting or ERP platform. Lo and behold, the workday is once again made up of eight hours—rather than five, plus three of copy and paste torture.
The benefits of automating your billing are far-reaching. Let’s discuss two of the big ones: time savings and increased confidence.
We’ve already mentioned how finance teams waste three hours per day on manual billing consolidation and reconciliation tasks. And since we’re talking finance, allow us to throw a few more numbers at you. In a recent survey, Basis Technologies users said that automated billing capabilities brought them:
The consequences of these benefits are significant. Not only are agencies that adopt automated billing able to realize value and ROI sooner, they’re also better equipped to retain staff members who, understandably, would rather do the high value work they were trained for instead of spending hours troubleshooting discrepancies and correcting inaccurate invoices.
Billing automation also boosts data quality and transparency and, as a result, fosters confidence on the agency side and trust on the client side. Automated billing technology was designed to transmit and consolidate data without error, so in today’s competitive digital landscape, leveraging technology to run the numbers is a no brainer. By contrast, humans were not designed to copy and paste crucial financial data from program to program for prolonged periods of time (if our calculations are correct, at least…oh, wait! That’s just common sense!)
All in all? Transparency into financial reconciliations + better-organized, better quality delivery data + clearer reports = more confident agencies + happier clients. QED.
Our heartfelt apologies for that jump scare at the beginning of this post—we had to get your attention somehow! We hope that understanding the power of automation has relieved at least a bit of the stress associated with the word “billing.”
And billing isn’t the only part of the campaign lifecycle that can see powerful benefits from automation. Automated reporting, automated bidding, workflow automation, and more are each poised to revolutionize what it means to plan and buy media. Check out our guide to advertising automation to learn all about it.