Publishers, Are You Still Running Your Business with Spreadsheets?

Publishers, Are You Still Running Your Business with Spreadsheets?

by Aditya Bhelande · March 8, 2019 · in Advertising Operations Strategy

Back when I started my career in the early 2000s, I used to work in software-powered logistics. Almost everything was done manually (read: spreadsheets). Entire manufacturing businesses were stitched together with spreadsheets. Every department had its own MS-Excel spreadsheets. Thank God for Microsoft Excel! I wonder how businesses were managed before that! Then, as a Product Manager in Oracle, we brought the power of ERP to these businesses and various departments started talking to each other in real-time. This ability to work on a unified set of data helped these manufacturers to:

  1. Reduce inventory stocks by enhanced planning
  2. Reorient manpower through a strategic process
  3. Increase profitability, and much more

A half a decade after that, when I was in Dorado, I had the opportunity to work with an amazing team of forward-looking thinkers who brought the same data-driven efficiency to loan origination and the fulfillment process in the banking industry. The loan origination and fulfillment process had the same issues that I had seen in the manufacturing and logistics industry. Loan originators would work on one set of data for their activities and underwriters would work on another set of data for their activities, though they used the data collected from different systems was actually the same. But each team collected data independently, thereby spending time on data collection and processing which could have been centralized and eliminate redundancy. This siloed data collection also created discrepancies between what loan originators saw and what the underwriters saw which resulted in longer loan approval times. A key difference between Oracle and Dorado was that Dorado was using technology which was much more evolved and nimble in addressing business needs.

After Dorado, I joined the media and publishing industry, working closely with publishers and agencies around the globe. The decade I served here help me observe a similar pattern. Ad Operations would have their own set of spreadsheets, Revenue Operations had their own set and the Management team was working off of a combination of both by somehow stitching various spreadsheets together. But unlike manufacturing and finance industries the challenges of managing the media business by stitching together spreadsheets presents a whole new level of complexity because of:

  1. Data fragmentation due to a large number of buying and selling partners
  2. Limits collecting and processing large data sets
  3. The need for speedy, dynamic decision making for pricing, inventory allocation, and budget allocation
  4. The lag in retrieving information from exchanges and processing them for time-sensitive programmatic decisions

The fast-paced nature of real-time media buying and selling is such that decisions cannot wait. And the vast amount of data means that you could have a large ops team solely engaged in fetching the data and still not be able to catch up. Now, even if teams were able to pull together all the data, it would be too late to take any meaningful action, that too, assuming that there were no errors in data collection and processing.

Yet, many publishers and agencies continue to use short-term, sub-optimal solutions or at best put a business intelligence solution in place. But technology by itself for its own sake doesn’t address the core business problem of the complexities of collaboration and running the entire business. The media industry, complex and competitive as it is, ought to have access to the latest platforms that drive the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of manufacturing and logistics Fortune 500 companies. And this time, it is publishers and agencies that deserve a catalyst built by media professionals – for media professionals. If they want the competitive edge, they need to have an end-to-end holistic view and execution of their processes such as generating payouts, billing and invoicing; campaign workload allocation, getting pricing and distribution recommendations, approval workflows, controlled user access, etc. They need this to eliminate data redundancy, deliver insights, and to be able to transition to real-time cross-functional collaboration.

Would you like to be part of the next generation of lean leaders in the media ops space? Then do get in touch with us.

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