Revenue Operations in a Media / Publishing company is not the easiest job to execute these days. Revenue Ops teams are responsible for a number of deliverables and many of those deliverables are dependent on things that are out of their control. For example, revenue and profitability reports which are dependent on the set up done by Ad Ops, reconciling payments in line with IO, etc. Imagine that you are starting in a new organization or taking up a new role as a Revenue Ops Manager. It would be a tough situation to be in. But with little planning, access to right tools and a change in perspective, you can hit the ground running. Here’s HOW…
- Build Deep Understanding of Existing Operations – First order of the business should be to understand in detail the existing processes from IO to Payments. From what I have seen, there is no standard approach to Revenue operations among the Media/ Publishing companies. Every Media / Publishing company adapts and customizes operations to suit their needs. On top of it, there would be no documentation to understand who is doing what, and when, which would make it difficult to respond to any issues in timely manner. Lookout for the following parameters to understand revenue operations better:
a. Number of sites / pages and Type of ads (banner, video, native, sponsored content, etc.)
b. Product packaging from sales perspective
c. Sales channels – Direct, Programmatic, Inventory Resale, etc.
d. Payment terms for Payouts and Demand Partners
e. Size of the organization and number of teams and their roles and responsibilities
f. Finance compliance requirements (especially if the company that you work for needs to be SOX compliant)
- Discovering Pain Points – Even before you are on-boarded, you will be bombarded with gazillion emails from various internal teams as well as from Buyers and Partners. Some of the issues you will run into:
a. Delayed, incorrect, missing payments
b. Incorrect profit margin calculations
c. Incorrect KPIs such as revenue, eCPM, etc.
To be able to handle the tsunami of emails and issues, it is best to start categorizing them. If you can, get access to a ticketing system like desk.com or JIRA, or any task management system to help manage the deluge of issues coming to you. Such system would also help in collecting data in a structured manner. This data can be analyzed for patterns and used for process improvements.
It would eventually help you to manage expectations with internal and external stakeholders.
- Make Data your new BFF – Ad Operations typically generates a lot of data that is key to Revenue Operations/ Finance– data that you need for billing, revenue reconciliation, profitability analysis, etc. The funny thing is that all that data is created by people who don’t necessarily understand Finance. Hence what works for Ad Ops may create nightmares for Finance during billing and reconciliation. It would help Finance / Revenue Ops teams to build an understanding of Ad Ops and of data associated with it.
As you get more into Ad Ops world you will notice that Ad Ops leverages a number of different systems. You will also see that these systems have slightly different lingo to represent things that matter from finance perspective. For example:
- When you are looking at revenue, some systems show Gross Revenue while many others show Net Revenue. Same is true for eCPM.
- For Impressions, you will notice that there are a number of columns with impressions alongside requests. From a billing perspective you have to know which one the billable impression is.
- You also have to make sure that all the parameters required for billing show up in the daily reports. Otherwise at the end of the month, you would be scrambling for data required for billing.
- If you are using a data management system, then it should be flexible enough to be able to join all the data sources together. This would help you run your reports. Short of that, you would most probably be stuck with loads of xls / csv files from everywhere. And joining them together would become a never-ending nightmare.
- Also, get comfortable with regular inconsistencies in data. Previous day’s data may not get updated. Sometimes data goes missing. Every day will bring a different variety of issue which would have a direct impact on various activities of Revenue Ops.
I don’t mean to scare you… but if you are able to address one or more of the things mentioned above, in your first 90 days in office, I’m sure you will not only thrive on data, but will help take Revenue Ops to the next level by unlocking revenue generating opportunities for your organization.