FastPay Agency Spotlight: Zehnder

In episode 2 of FastPay’s Agency Spotlight series, we chat with Jeremy Hunnewell, CFO and Business Strategist at Zehnder Communications. We discuss the financial impact of COVID-19 and social distancing, and it’s broader effects across the media landscape.

 

Watch Spotlight 1: Scoppechio here.

60 DSO and Counting: How Suppliers Are Dealing with Extended Payment Terms

FastPay Network: Beyond 60

In 2017, Digiday released an article claiming that media suppliers were being treated like banks by media agencies. The article went on to say that, “Lately, hard-hit publishers have had enough with agencies extending payment terms even well after they’ve been paid by their clients.” Three years later nothing has changed. In fact, the problem has grown worse with major brands extending their payment terms beyond 120+ days. Furthermore, in March 2020, the ANA compiled their own analysis derived from a group of marketers and brands to reveal, “payment term changes, notably extended terms, are reflective of a broader trend. And that, “the majority of respondents who have extended their payment terms have done so to derive better cash flow.” 

To understand how extended payment terms have affected suppliers, FastPay partnered with Prodege, an independent research firm, and surveyed 155 US-based media suppliers. 

 

The State of the Problem 

The sheer volume of ad buys creates a very complex world of payments. US media spend reached $560 billion in 2019, according to eMarketer. Less than 13% of 2019’s total ad spend moved through programmatic pipes leaving billions to sift through tedious reconciliation processes. With the 2020 election and Tokyo Olympic Games expected to yield increased media budgets, we will likely see more dollars moving through old pipes. 

In addition to clunky backend operations, media suppliers are also falling prey to delinquent payments. As articulated by FastPay CTO Mark Baran, “Gone are the days where media agencies pay suppliers for an ad product. Today, they’re paying for performance.” Part of the problem is that measuring performance is complex (using third party ad servers) and it conflicts based on who is doing the analysis (e.g. supplier, agency or advertiser). Oftentimes, the advertiser or agency data is what is considered truth. What results is an unfortunate cycle where suppliers are paid late and then forced to begin a difficult reconciliation process requiring numerous calls and back to back emails. While this is fairly specific to digital,  traditional media still encounters tremendous delays due to complexity in reconciliation (sorting through makegoods, incorrect billing, etc.)

 

A Need for More Automation (with Transparency)

One of the biggest challenges suppliers encounter is the need to process paper checks. As mentioned in our recent  Forrester Report, “the media industry has been at the forefront of digital transformation, adopting programmatic, data-driven, and multichannel capabilities to increase targeting and efficiency. Even so, the payment process itself — the final stretch of ad purchasing— is still mired in complex, extended payment terms and legacy payment methods.” Our most recent study found that 50% of media suppliers surveyed receive manual checks to pay for placed media. When you think about how many ads are placed on a wide variety of mediums, that starts adding up to an extraordinary amount of checks. 

Checks lack automation and transparency. They are slow and error-prone and provide limited information when it comes to resolving discrepancies. They also restrict communication between agencies and suppliers. You can’t talk to a check. However, a platform with integrations like chat boxes and access to increased remittance data, allows you to seamlessly talk through discrepancies and delays. Solutions like these are being developed. In 2019, FastPay launched FastPay Network, the only solution giving suppliers greater transparency and predictability into payments. Through the Network, suppliers get access to a portal with rich data on invoice status and remittance details and can elect to receive payment at Net 60.

 

Suppliers Seek a Resolution 

As we enter a new quarter full of tough decisions to make, media suppliers will be required to unlock their cash flow quickly. When we initiated this study, 76% of decision makers aimed to improve efficiency in the invoicing process within the next 12 months. They will now likely move quicker, as changes resulting from COVID-19 take shape in the media ecosystem. In fact, we’ve already seen a shift to more automation in payments. Motivated by the increase of political ad spending, some suppliers have put new payment solutions in place. Earlier this year, one of the largest broadcasting companies in the US partnered with FastPay and processed over $1 million in political payments through FastPay Network in the month of January alone. 

While suppliers’ main goal is to help agencies meet campaign goals for the brands they represent, they also have a dedication to their internal teams, now more than ever. By adding more predictability to payments, suppliers are guaranteeing the future of their company and the people who work for them. 

FastPay understands the importance of predictable payments, which is why we launched FastPay Network. Unlike factoring partners or even major banks, FastPay Network is designed for media suppliers by media experts. For more information on how you can receive faster payments, contact Larry Shiels, VP of Supplier Development at larry.shiels@gofastpay.com.

5 Questions to Ask Your Payments Provider

5 questions to ask your payments provider

Many payment providers make lofty claims, but are they actually fulfilling their end of the bargain? Maybe you’ve heard that a higher rebate percentage equals more revenue share or that all payment technology is the same. These misleading statements aren’t only damaging to your forecast, but they also set unrealistic expectations for stakeholders in your AP department. FastPay has developed a guide to dispel some of these common misconceptions so you can guarantee your payment provider is delivering the results promised. Check out the 5 questions below to ask your payments provider.

1. How do you support supplier outreach and enrollment?

Agencies work with an expansive network of media suppliers which can make it overwhelming to track thousands of vendors and payment types at any given time. FastPay conducts a monthly analysis of your vendor files and proactively reaches out to any new suppliers so you don’t have to. With a dedicated media payments team, you can rely on consistent vendor outreach and enrollment, that remains strong throughout the course of the partnership.

2. Does your program offer revenue share guarantees?

Agencies receive revenue share based on the number of electronic payments processed. Using robust supplier data, FastPay can accurately forecast the revenue share for your agency so you can project how much you will earn from processing payments. FastPay is the only media payments provider that can guarantee the maximum amount of revenue share in the industry.

3. How many media suppliers are in your payment acceptance program?

Maximizing supplier acceptance requires a complete and up-to-date network of media suppliers especially with the constant changes across the media ecosystem. FastPay is the only media payments platform that stores and dynamically updates robust data on supplier ownership hierarchy, media type, and contact information, resulting in the highest payment acceptance rate in the industry.

4. How many of your media payments can be automated?

Many suppliers accept payments exclusively through their own web portals which is a painstaking task requiring agencies to manually enter credit card information for each payment. FastPay has proprietary technology that automates more than 85% of payments to these portals ensuring timely and accurate payments. Our integrated database of supplier conditions ensures that we find every possible credit card payment, every time.

5. Who handles your payment processing? 


When regularly managing millions of dollars every day, payment providers need a reliable and secure payment processing partner. FastPay partners with Comdata, the payment industry’s version of Amazon Web Services (AWS) for card issuing, to ensure product uptime and processing reliability for all clients. With more than $55B annually processed, Comdata is the only partner FastPay trusts.

FastPay Joins Forces With AccountAbility

FastPay is pleased to announce our recent partnership with AccountAbility, Strata’s preferred accounting system integration. This end-to-end media buying and payment solution will now allow payments to flow directly from AccountAbility into FastPay Political.

“The decision to partner with AccountAbility was a no-brainer,” said Theresa Contario, VP of Political Payments at FastPay. “As the leading integrated project management and financial system designed for marketing agencies, AccountAbility can increase efficiency for all of our political agency clients and make their lives a little easier in the upcoming Presidential election.” 

AccountAbility is the leading all-in-one agency ERP solution, created by agency CFOs, to provide users with a complete and modern API toolset. Unlike other problematic and manual flat-file integrations, this platform provides a true end-to-end experience that is tailored to suit the media world. “With the added complexities of pre-payment in the political media buying process, this end-to-end experience is instrumental for our clients,” said Contario.  

“Our solution is all about visibility, scalability, and mobility for agencies anywhere in the world. By partnering with FastPay we’re able to further our mission and provide customers with an all-inclusive experience that solves for the unique financial management and reporting needs of the media,” said Terry McMillan, Founder & CEO of AccountAbility. 

Additionally, this integration will sync vendors in the AccountAbility system with the FastPay proprietary vendor database to provide clients with the optimal supplier acceptance that ultimately impacts agency returns. 

For more information about becoming a FastPay partner, please contact Kara Dion,  kara.dion@gofastpay.com 

 

FastPay Joins PayPod to Discuss The World of Media Payments

media payments podcast

David Frogel, FastPay Chief Strategy Officer, recently joined PayPod host, Scott Hawksworth, to discuss the world of media payments and its impact on the overall media ecosystem today. With topics ranging from cryptocurrency in payments to the future of payments within the next 12-24 months, nothing is off-limits in this podcast by Soar Payments.

The current state of the union is no surprise to many agencies and suppliers as delayed payments have been a source of friction for years, but as Frogel points out, it’s only getting worse with time. In a competitive landscape where some of the largest advertisers are paying net 120-150, suppliers are left wondering why they’re getting paid so late.

“I spent my career working with entrepreneurs and as an entrepreneur in tech and media companies. I was the CFO of a media buying agency for about 7 years and witnessed a lot of friction between agencies and suppliers,” said Frogel. “Delayed payments and long aging on the books of media suppliers have been pain points for years, but that problem has really escalated in the last couple of years. The supply chain is feeling real pressure.”

What is the underlying cause of payment delays? According to Frogel, delays can be attributed to lengthening payment terms between advertisers and agencies, process friction having to deal with reconciliation in media, and the lack of motivation for agencies to pay faster. Adding further tension, all political ad buys have to be prepaid in order for an ad to run as scheduled. 

“Payment speed is critical because every day you need cash to run your business, especially when it’s already taken months to get paid, counts. So for years, we’ve focused on making it easier for agencies to make the payments. Slow payments have now reached a fever pitch so what we’ve done is brought on new tools and a new solution that gets suppliers paid on fixed terms like net 60 without using a traditional credit or factoring facility.” 

Equally as important as speed when sending payments, security and privacy are also vital, especially when handling millions of dollars in electronic payments. FastPay has heavily invested in identity management and security infrastructure over the years to ensure complete protection for clients’ most vulnerable data. “To this day, we’ve never seen any chargebacks or fraud on the cards that we’ve been responsible for and it’s been ten years now. I can’t say that will never happen but there are so many protocols built into the payments and lockdowns that prevent fraud from occurring.”

Whether it’s payment speed or data security, FastPay continues to meet the needs of an ever-evolving media industry. It’s an exciting time for the payments world as fintech continues to innovate and solve some major pain points. Make sure to keep an eye out for upcoming updates and progress along the way! 

Check out the entire podcast below.

FastPay Attends TVB Forward 2019

Overlooking the water from Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers NYC, senior decision-makers gathered last week to discuss the current opportunities and challenges facing broadcast television across every screen at TVB’s Forward Conference. The action-packed day covered topics around automation, political predictions for 2020, and visions for 2025 and beyond.

As a sponsor of this year’s conference, FastPay had the opportunity to contribute to the conversation around automation with FastPay Network. “The consensus throughout the conference was the need to streamline buys with agencies and digitize the last mile of payments. Similar to the findings from our Forrester study on payment technology, both suppliers and agencies are looking to speed up the payment process by automating invoices. We’re excited to see how FastPay Network will help increase efficiency across the media ecosystem by reinventing the payment process for the digital age,” said Larry Shiels, VP of Supplier Development for FastPay Network.

When asked about the future of local broadcast TV in a packed panel, Jordan Wertlieb, the President of Hearst TV, predicted more selling time and better interpersonal relationships with the use of automation and machine learning by 2025. “I hope we’re leaving behind the discussion about the difficulties of buying local TV.”

In addition, discussions surrounding the upcoming 2020 election and the financial boost it will have on local TV proved to be a popular subject amongst attendees. The political super session ranged from “fake news” to the power of politics as a major revenue stream for broadcasters.

According to Kantar Media, $34M in local broadcast TV ads have already been booked for the 2020 election cycle with estimates for the most competitive local TV spending markets to include Phoenix, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia and even Des Moines, Iowa and Lansing, Michigan. Greta Van Susteren, National Political Analyst from Gray Television, reported telling the TVB Forward crowd that the real winners in the 2020 election will be the ad sales folks from local broadcasters.

“It was great to see political media as a cornerstone topic for the conference. As Kantar pointed out during the conference, 2020 spending projections are predicted to be $6B in total and over $3B on broadcast alone. This figure is almost double the money spent on broadcast during the 2016 cycle so we can expect to see more political agencies utilize payment automation and technology to scale operations,” said Theresa Contario, VP of Political Payments at FastPay.

Thank you to TVB Forward for hosting such a top-notch event. FastPay is excited to be a part of this transformational time in local broadcast television as the advertising community works together to solve for the industry’s toughest challenges.

Debt vs. Equity Financing: What’s Best for your Business?

While capital is a necessary component for most businesses to scale and grow to the next phase, there are many factors to consider. Debt and equity financing each have their pros and cons, but the best option truly depends on your current needs and stage of business. 

If you need a refresher, debt financing entails borrowing a fixed amount from a lender which is then paid back with interest. The different types generally include secured lines of credit, term loans, credit cards, and invoice/receivable financing, among others. Debt is a great option when you want to maintain control and ownership over your business. In many cases, interest payments are tax-deductible, leaving your business with more money in the end. 

On the other hand, equity financing involves an investor purchasing a percentage of the business in exchange for capital. Equity is perfect for start-up businesses that need money to scale. However, a big exit or IPO can be a complicated process involving investor voting rights. If a founder’s vision doesn’t align with stakeholders, this can be a major source of conflict.

At a FastPay roundtable event, attendee Lori Murphree of Diamond Capital Advisors shared that “debt is cheaper at the end of the day, most people don’t realize that. If you’re going to sell your company for hundreds of millions of dollars, do the math!” She also mentioned, “you always want an AR lender that you can use for working capital. If you are going to raise equity, try to raise some debt to go with it.”

“At FastPay, we encourage companies to think of equity as a vehicle for long-term strategic growth and debt as working capital for operational needs,” said Caroline Zager, Associate of Business Development at FastPay.

The choice is ultimately dependent on the goals of your organization and what type of financial backing is needed to achieve them. If your company is new and full of growth potential, then equity may be the best option. If you’re a more established company in search of working capital, debt could be a better solution for your business. However, it’s best to reach a balance between the two to maximize financial growth and return.