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Automating O2C processes will resolve pain points and ensure scalability

March 16, 2021 | By Jennifer Choo, Senior Marketing Manager — Theorem Inc. @theoreminc

From a 10,000-foot view, order-to-cash (O2C) is a seemingly simple process. However, the O2C cycle causes pain points across a number of business in various industries — notably in the media marketing and publishing industries. 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. This is particularly true in the digital age.

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 true in the media and publishing industries where growth is critical and scalability hinges on resolving O2C pain points. Fortunately, many of these processes are repeatable and scalable, which makes them prime candidates for automation. 

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, the perceived complexity of such an undertaking will drive companies to put off automating their O2C processes. However, it is becoming more and more evident that the order-to-cash process must automated in order to simplify and streamline them, especially for industries with media buys.

Identifying O2C pain points

Media industry players 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. This is particularly true in companies with an ever-growing large daily volume of short-lived ad placements. 

No trafficking team, no matter how skilled, has the ability to execute 100% accuracy when manually processing hundreds of ad campaigns daily. 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. The good news is that all of this can be achieved through automation.

In reality, the repeatable aspects of trafficking workflows are all prime candidates for automation. These include target sections, creating unique targeting rules and UTM trackers, DMA cloning, and establishing rule sets. Executing a well-rounded automation strategy to address these aspects of O2C will free up bandwidth for tasks and process that must be manual. Thus, the process also facilitates scale.

Why automating O2C Processes is crucial

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. 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. This results in extended periods of time between order placements and recognized revenue.

Streamlining an ad placement campaign cycle in the order-to-cash workflow, with automation will make processes faster and 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

Consider, 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.

In addition, many publishing, media and streaming companies offer a vast array of product packages to their ad clients. Some offer 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. Reducing manual efforts and human error margins is essential and the best way to do so is through automated DMA updating capabilities.

The payoff

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. As the scale of ad business increases, the need for simple and accurate solutions to O2C pain points has become critical.

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.

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