Why AP Departments Should Digitize Their Payments

With the tech-savvy world we live in today, media agencies are facing increasing pressure to adapt and keep up with their trendsetting clients. Yet, in a recently commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting, it was found that media buying agencies are still making nearly ⅓ of their payments by check.

It’s true, there are some suppliers out there that only accept checks despite digital transformation across the industry, but for all the others, why do we remain in the dark ages? Especially when agency AP professionals report challenges such as these:

  • 52% experienced late payments
  • 51% encountered manual errors
  • 40% lost checks in the mail
  • 30% paid additional processing and material costs

Not only does this prove to be costly and time-consuming, but it also has the opportunity to damage a company’s reputation with both brands and media suppliers. With wide-reaching effects, it’s more important than ever for agencies to update their payment processes and embrace the world of digital payments.

Reduction in errors, improved process efficiency, cost savings and cost reduction – these are just some of the many benefits AP leaders have reported after making the transition to an electronic payments solution.

“Agencies have a unique opportunity to optimize their AP department and reinvent the ad purchasing process, it’s just a matter of time before we see this shift happen everywhere,” said Michael Wehner, General Manager and Senior Vice President of Payments.

Ready for your AP department to catch up with the times? Download the Forrester study: “It’s Time for Media Agencies to Digitize the last Mile of Payments.”

 

Who Run the World? Girls!

In celebration of International Women’s Day, we’re honored to highlight one of the many inspirational women working at FastPay – Danielle Baldaro.

As the sixth employee at the company, Danielle has been instrumental in building what FastPay is today. From laying the foundation in operations to developing the portfolio management team from scratch, she’s been a part of it all. But it hasn’t been without its difficulties.

Danielle went to school while working full time for a small asset-based lender, and after investing more than ten years she found herself reaching a glass ceiling. That didn’t stop her though. She continued to work hard and persevere in the competitive industry, and she’s now the VP of Portfolio Management at FastPay, working mother to three-year-old Hudson, and an inspirational leader admired by many.

“I have worked with Danielle for almost seven years now, and I can always, without fail, count on her. She never ceases to make me laugh and encourages me even on days when she’s stressed and busy,” said Scott Nelson, Marketing and Events Manager at FastPay.

Whether it’s in the office or at home, she leads by example in everything she does. Words of wisdom from the woman herself: “Work hard. Do your best. Be a champion for yourself. Don’t expect anything to be handed to you even if you work hard. You have to advocate for yourself and speak up, it’s up to you to make it happen,” said Danielle.

Shout out to Danielle and all of the amazing women who continue to rock it every day at FastPay! We’re very thankful for each and every one of you.

Welcome the Newest Member of the FastPay Family!

We’re full steam ahead this year, and we’ve been busy hiring some pretty great people. One we want you to meet is Theresa Mueller, the new VP of Political Payments.

Coming from the media buying world, Theresa isn’t a stranger to the complexities of payments, especially when it comes to political media. Unlike traditional media, political agencies are required to pre-pay to ensure media will run as scheduled which means printing, scanning, and overnighting with FedEx® to meet last minute deadlines.

But these challenges are what entices Theresa – finding efficient solutions for political agencies. Already in her short time since joining FastPay, she’s seen clients directly benefit from the platform.

“I’ve seen the FastPay technology in action, and it works even better than I could have imagined. The platform is solid, reliable, and makes life so much easier for AP departments dealing with the quick pace of political ad buying,” said Theresa.

Theresa isn’t just all business. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, traveling to new places, running around D.C., playing midfield in her local Women’s soccer league, and spending time with her fiance.

Join us in welcoming her to FastPay!

Global Tech Platform Secures $25M Facility With FastPay

We’re happy to announce that in just three months FastPay secured a $25M facility for a global ad tech platform.

Unlike venture banks, we understand the ongoing challenges of lengthy payment terms and do not penalize companies for working with tier-one companies. We lean into what others label ‘risky’ and instead take a data-centric approach to approving credits, ensuring you can continue to grow and scale your business. 

“When you have a thorough understanding of the space and know how agencies and brands interact, you can begin to offer clients custom flexibility and availability. When our clients succeed, we succeed,” said Maytal Shainberg, SVP of Business Development and Origination at FastPay.

With diversified capital sources and ten years of experience, FastPay has already secured the movement of more than $5B in the space, helping media and technology companies access facilities as high as $100M and freedom from the ‘other guys.’

The [FastPay] Circus is in Town

What happens when you get FastPay employees from London, San Francisco, New York, D.C., Boston, and Los Angeles together in one room? A FastPay circus…also known as FastCon.

But FastCon is more than just a gathering of wild animals. It’s our annual convention for FastPay employees to get together, bond, strategize, and solidify goals for the year ahead. But in order to do so, we had to find the perfect space, outside of the office, to inspire innovation and creativity. The result…a VR arcade, of course.

So with a world of virtual mazes, flying games, and escape rooms awaiting us, we got down to business and envisioned FastPay’s future in the world of FinTech. After many hours of thoughtful conversations with leadership, brainstorming sessions with fellow peers, and motivational talks with industry experts we left the room feeling inspired and ready to take on 2019.

And while there’s a lot of exciting opportunities in store for us this coming year, one thing remains the same… our mission. Our mission to, not only, provide the best service to our clients but to also reduce the friction between suppliers and buyers within the complex media landscape.

Some may say this is an ambitious mission. But just like the circus has a room full of ring leaders, tightrope walkers, and unicyclists; we have a company full of innovative thinkers, problem solvers, passionate creatives, and multi-talented employees that perform awe-inspiring acts everyday… now it’s just a matter of pulling off the greatest show on Earth.

So right this way, Ladies and Gentlemen, watch as FastPay takes on the tech-nifying year of 2019.

Webinar Recap: Learn How Suppliers Can Optimize Interactions with Agency Finance

On Wednesday, FastPay participated in a webinar hosted by the BCCA… the media industry’s credit association, titled, “How credit can interact with agency finance departments more efficiently.”    

David Frogel, Chief Strategy Officer at FastPay, delivered the webinar to an audience of media suppliers covering some common issues and perceptions about media agencies. Frogel, a former COO/CFO of an advertising agency, shared with the attendees his insights on what goes on behind the scenes of an agency finance department and suggestions for media suppliers on how to optimize interaction with an agency. Specific supplier suggestions included:

  • Use EDI whenever possible
  • Understand how an agency treats duplicate invoices
  • Ensure invoices include critical header details, especially estimate and order
  • Consider payment portals and accept electronic payments
  • Explore solutions that streamline/centralize transactions
  • Pick up the phone!

The event concluded with Frogel’s thoughts on the future and Q&A from the audience.  

“I learned a lot about collaborative relationships between agencies and suppliers when I was a COO/CFO of an agency. It starts with willingness to change and considering industry platforms that will deliver greater efficiency and reduce friction for both parties,” said Frogel.

Special thanks to our friends at the BCCA… the media industry’s credit association for hosting this webinar. A full recording of the webinar can be viewed here.

FastPay Names Michael Wehner as General Manager and Senior Vice President of Payments

Media Industry Veteran to Define Payments Portfolio Go-to-Market Strategy and Drive Innovation

Michael Wehner SVP Payments

FastPay announced today that Michael Wehner has joined the company as General Manager and Senior Vice President of Payments. In this position, Wehner will have responsibility for FastPay’s payments portfolio, including managing sales, development, and growth, and overseeing expansion of solutions for media agencies and suppliers. He will be responsible for defining the payments go-to-market strategy and driving innovation through strategic customer engagements. Wehner began his new position as a member of the executive team in December, reporting to Jed Simon, CEO and Founder of FastPay.

Wehner joins FastPay from the Rubicon Project, a digital advertising infrastructure company, where he was Senior Vice President of Agency & Brand Sales. At the Rubicon Project, Wehner was responsible for building out the agency’s strategy and global team, while working closely with global buying partners. Prior to Rubicon, Wehner worked at Microsoft where he led the global strategy for Media & Entertainment, before moving to the company’s advertising division. Before then, Wehner held sales leadership roles at IBM and Yahoo. With more than 20 years of sales and business development experience in digital media, Wehner has a track record for driving revenue growth by delivering integrated technology solutions to media companies.

“Michael brings significant media industry expertise to FastPay, which will support the rapid growth trajectory of our payments portfolio,” stated Simon. “He brings the ideal background needed to understand the complex, ever-evolving media landscape. We believe his proven track record will help expand FastPay’s payment solutions in meaningful ways for both agencies and media suppliers. His leadership skills will help accelerate and manage FastPay’s tremendous current growth and growth potential.”  

“FastPay’s market potential is virtually unlimited, and I’m looking forward to helping the company bring its innovative solutions to the media industry, so we can offer clients greater payment speed, accuracy, and control over their payment operations,” said Wehner. “Today, U.S. media payments total more than $200 billion annually. The FastPay platform delivers the ability to automate a significant portion of those payments, while giving media companies more productivity and the cost savings they need to remain competitive.”

Raised in Rochester, New York, Wehner now lives in New York City. He holds a BA degree in Computer Science from the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Boom or Bust?  Marketing and Ad Tech Investment Dollars Projected to Fall 75% in 2019

According to a recent Forrester research report, investment dollars for marketing and ad tech startups are expected to fall 75% in 2019. This should come as no surprise in an industry that has seen tremendous growth in recent years from what seems like a never-ending stream of both advertising dollars and rounds of capital from hungry investors across the globe.

Marketing and ad tech consolidation is happening every day as larger media, tech companies, and agencies acquire new platforms and niche companies from across the ecosystem to bring order in the still overwhelmingly complex ecosystem. Ultimately, these companies are trying to help marketers reach the right customer, at the right time, and across any device with the ability to measure the impact. Terms like AI, VR, and blockchain have replaced big data, omnichannel, programmatic, and native as the new buzzwords helping some gain an edge over others.

Companies with proven technology, established revenue streams, and sound business strategies will continue to thrive despite fewer investment dollars. Other startups may have joined the party too late, already burned through several rounds of funding, or shifted their business strategies and are destined to become footnotes of history in one of the most booming sectors since the dotcom craze.

While the marketplace will ultimately pick the winners and losers, FastPay continues to provide capital for media and tech companies with proven business models.

FastPay recently partnered with ad tech platform, VideoAmp, because of their unique offering and position in the market. According to VideoAmp CFO, Tom Schmitt, “Our partnership with FastPay allows us to accelerate our investment in strategic elements of our business and gain market share in a dynamic environment. With FastPay, we’re able to double-down on our product investment, making our customers and investors incredibly successful.”

FastPay has multiple lending sources to help inject capital, while not diluting equity investments for clients. “Our rich analytics and deep industry expertise allow us to provide our clients more capital than banks and generic providers. Unlike traditional lenders who are becoming more and more conservative, we continue to lean into the industry and not shy away from it,” stated Maytal Shainberg, SVP of Origination and Business Development.  

As the marketplace continues to mature, FastPay’s collective experience and network of industry relationships will continue to help clients navigate media and tech’s complex financial ecosystem.

Coming To America: Grow Big or Grow Home?

Coming To America: Grow Big or Grow Home?

Last week saw the great and the good of the adtech world descend on The Ivy to share the lessons and scars of US expansion.

Hosted by yours truly at FastPayBen Titchmarsh of Propeller PR guided a panel of fantastic industry spokespeople through an advice-led discussion that followed the growth of a hypothetical adtech firm from inception to US expansion and exit plan.

Adam Ludwin of Captify and Abeed Janmohamed of Volando provided the ‘been there done that’ point of view as founders that have successfully established US bases, whilst Mark Williams at Results International did a sterling job of detailing the nuanced differences between UK and US investor attitudes. For those confident they are in the right position to make the jump across the Atlantic, we had some interesting takeaways…

US venture capital isn’t compulsory for US success

Many founders feel that a big valuation from US VCs provide the answer to their problems, yet this can be disheartening when many Silicon Valley investors want to see triple digit growth before they even bat an eyelid. With East Coast funds zoning in on double digit growth, European funds remain an attractive option. As ever, finding a venture capital partner should always come down the money involved and who you trust.

Founders must not be put off by overconfident US competition either. It was post-Series B for Captify (around £8 million), when a US competitor with £50 million in the war chest came over to compete. It wasn’t long before said competitor shut up shop as the technology wasn’t quite there.

Before rushing off to new locations, Mark advises that it’s vital to make sure the home market is stable. The cost of expansion is often underestimated; overconfidence can often lead to executives not building in failure and re-hiring staff to the plan.

You can’t enforce culture

We all speak the same language, but the US can a big culture shock for British entrepreneurs. Adam needed to overcome Captify’s Britishness when opening Captify’s US office, and found they nailed the culture when the balance of British to American staff was about three in 10. It takes time to nurture culture and nobody cares if you’re the hottest thing in Europe – you’re a start-up all over again in the US.

On the money front, $1m doesn’t even make a dent in sales and marketing, with salaries averaging at double compared to the UK.

Stateside, investors have a different mentality too. Whilst European investors are poring over EBITDA, out in the US, culture plays a big part and belief in a founder’s vision can often trump pure financials. They back teams and often ‘bad tech, great team’ wins out over ‘good tech, shit team’.

Preparation is key – exhaust all options

What came across loud and clear from our founders is the old adage of failing to prepare is preparing to fail. US expansion is not something one should rush into. Deals in adtech have decreased and it’s now about established businesses positioning for an exit. There’s still a diverse range of potential acquirers including broadcasters, telcos, agency networks, consulting firms and private equity. As with any move, US expansion should only ever feed into an overarching growth strategy.

The panel agreed that founders should exhaust all debt options before diving straight into equity. However, for companies that have already secured investment, debt can also complement equity by providing cash flow solutions without further dilution of ownership. Debt is much more cost effective in the long run and faster to obtain – Abeed and Adam both highlighted the sheer time commitment involved in campaigning for equity raises, and if founders aren’t careful this can impact on the day to day growth of the company. With debt options, the finance team can apply for a loan or alternative finance pretty easily. When you consider that payment terms in the US are even longer than the often stretched timeline that vendors face in the UK, it is essential for founder to factor in working capital solutions early on to ensure success.

Longon-Roundtable-Oct-2018

Follow The Money – Political Ad Spend Heating to Record Levels With 50 Days to Midterm Elections

In today’s increasingly heated midterm elections, advertising spending is also heating up — and the dollars are being spent in surprising areas, say leading political media reporting organizations.

According to Borrell Associates, spending in 2018 is 6.5 percent higher than in 2014, with total spend estimated to be $8.8 billion versus $8.3 billion in the previous midterm elections.  

What’s more, digital is not king, despite massive growth during the last two cycles. Broadcast and cable are capturing over 50 percent of all political media revenue. Online and digital account for 20 percent. Often overlooked print and radio advertising fall in at 8.1 and 7.7 percent respectively.

The breakdown continues with $2.4 billion predicted to be spent on broadcast TV ads, including House, Senate, and state and local office races — a 14 percent increase from 2014, according to Kantar Media as reported by Bloomberg. Further, campaign spending on local cable TV ads will grow more than 40 percent to $850 million. Expenditures for Internet ads will more than double to reach $600 million.

More than half of political spending will be local — state level or below. In fact, Borrell advises media and consultants to understand local audiences, so they can deliver highly targeted matching of ads to audiences.

To help media take advantage of the increasing midterm political spending, FastPay provides several critical capabilities that support automated delivery, receipt and processing of prepaid political advertising payments.

Because FastPay is designed for the media industry, its proprietary technology serves its unique payment needs — including reducing the risks of political ad payment delays and discrepancies. As an added measure of assurance, the FastPay services team follows up to ensure payments are processed in advance of airing ads on TV, cable, online, digital, radio and print.

FastPay further reduces payment risk by offering the ability to automatically populate payment portals with billing information versus relying on human intervention and risking potential payment errors and delays.

While the political landscape is bound to become increasingly volatile up to November 6th, 2018, paying for political advertising along the way doesn’t have to be.