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Top 7 Ad Processes that Desperately Need Automation

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Did you know that 91% of local spot TV transactions are still completed manually? Despite recent advancements in programmatic TV marketplaces, the vast majority of TV ad buys are still completed using the high-touch, avail request-response, back-and-forth negotiation process that typically takes 29 steps and several weeks to complete. The good news is that the automation of processes associated with those 29 steps has been gaining momentum, significantly reducing the time and manual effort required for both broadcasters and advertisers.

The following processes have presented significant challenges to broadcasters for years, involving highly manual workflows that are time-consuming and susceptible to error. These are often tedious, low-tech processes that take valuable time away from more critical, revenue-generating business activities, making them prime candidates for automation.

Thankfully, many automations already exist to streamline ad sales from pitch to payment, saving broadcasters time and money. Here are our top seven:

1. Reduce errors by automating the import of creative materials and material instructions.

Using fax or email to handle material instructions is time-consuming, antiquated, and risky. One mistake can create costly errors that damage campaigns and relationships. Automating the import of material instructions from buy-side systems and agencies eliminates manual data entry, streamlining the process to save valuable time and money.

Automating the ingestion of creative materials into the traffic system can further reduce manual effort, resulting in considerable time savings. Automated creative materials import from third-party systems can also reduce data errors by eliminating the need to manually key in information, such as Ad-ID.

2. Improve accuracy with automated order validation.

Advertisers set unique criteria for the spots they purchase, including preferred dayparts and programming, competitor separation, and more. Automation allows for validation at the point of order entry to ensure compliance with broadcaster-defined business rules before spots air. Since validation rules can be unique to each buyer based on requested spot placement and reporting, accuracy is critical. Automation eliminates both the effort of manual validation as well as the need to identify and correct data errors after the spot runs.

3. Reduce costs with simplified makegood processes.

Delivering on a makegood can sometimes take weeks or even months. Whether it’s due to pre-emption or a shortfall in ratings or impressions, an advertiser wants to negotiate a makegood that will deliver not just the right number of audience deficiency units (ADUs) but the right audience, at the right time, and during the right programming. Broadcasters must juggle advertiser needs against a limited supply of available inventory. Automated makegood prediction and offer tools make suggestions based on an automated comparison of the advertiser’s requirements against available inventory, saving time, reducing costs, and increasing advertiser satisfaction.

4. Maximize revenue with audience delivery optimization.

Networks guarantee a set number of impressions as part of every deal. A shortfall creates financial liability, while a surplus results in lost revenue on the impressions that exceed the guarantee. Automated unit placements can garner more impressions without materially sacrificing the delivery of units on another deal that’s currently running. Efficiently optimized unit placements mean guarantees are far less likely to under-or over-deliver, reducing liability, decreasing makegoods, and maximizing revenue for broadcasters.

5. Improve efficiency with airtime reporting automation.

Broadcasters spend considerable time and resources compiling and sending airtime reports to an agency or advertiser, sometimes multiple times per week. Automatically generating and sending airtime reports based on the advertiser’s requirements saves broadcasters considerable time, while giving advertisers more timely insight into campaign performance.

6. Improve cash flow with automated accounts receivable, collections, and payment processing.

Automating the accounting cycle eliminates a wide range of manual financial processes. When accounting automation integrates with the traffic system, broadcasters can go from order to invoice, invoice to payment, and payment to cash application and reconciliation quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively. This reduces days sales outstanding (DSOs), improving cash flow and reducing costs.

7. Attract new demand with marketplace spot TV transactions.

The increasing importance of programmatic marketplaces for broadcast TV is front and center. Automated marketplace selling attracts new demand that broadcasters can evaluate alongside currently sold inventory, allowing them to accept only the best offers. Attractive to digital-first advertisers seeking near-to-air inventory, marketplaces automate end-to-end transaction processes to easily connect buyers and sellers, increasing competition and inventory value.

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts

These seven automations provide incremental improvements to workflow efficiencies, streamlining processes for both broadcasters and advertisers. Automating specific pieces within a large and complex ecosystem offers immediate cost savings and revenue maximization. And while traditional deals aren't going away anytime soon, there is significant value in streamlining the entire process through automation, for both traditional and marketplace transactions, linear and digital, for both broadcasters and buyers.

[Editor's note: This is a contributed article from WideOrbit. Streaming Media accepts vendor bylines based solely on their value to our readers.]

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