Today, many agencies’ AP departments approve vendor invoices for payment as long as the invoice falls within the approved purchase order amount. That is the only parameter used to process invoices for payment. This is called Bottom Lining. The practice of bottom lining may serve the agency and save them vast amounts of time in the reconciliation process, but it is a huge disservice to the client. At A3 Media, “Bottom Lining” is a bad word, well maybe two words!
Media invoices are generally generated after the run, sometimes as long as 6-8 weeks after the conclusion of the flight or billing period. This practice hinders prompt reconciliation and close out. That is one of the reasons why many agencies bottom line their vendor invoices just so they can move things along. Another reason why agencies may bottom line their invoices is that it saves them considerable time and paperwork in the reconciliation process. When you bottom line invoices you are not checking to make sure that you got what you contracted for such things as impressions, pacing and rotation. These agencies don’t check the details, and as we all know, the devil is in the details.
One of the details that is important to review during the reconciliation process is reviewing the invoices to determine if it is based on estimates or actuals. Does the invoice include the real metrics verified by either the spot log affidavit or confirmed via the vendor’s dashboard? A3 only processes invoices based upon actuals, not estimates and there must be supporting data provided to support the charges on the invoice. It’s important to review the backup data prior to payment processing to ensure that spots were run in the contractual places, that pacing is correct, and rotation is right. In one such case for one of our clients, we confirmed that the cable buy invoice was under contract total, but upon closer inspection we determined that the invoice also included line items for paid programming spots (not allowed per our contract) and non-contracted programs. Both of which resulted in credits to our client. An agency that bottom lines their invoices would not uncover these charges and would in fact incorrectly pass them on to their client.
For digital buys, we rely on the dashboard data provided by our vendors. Initial review of the dashboard might indicate that the total impressions served matches the contracted amount for that period, closer inspection might indicate that impressions were not served according to pacing and/or rotation instructions. For example, we had such a case that the impressions on the invoice matched the impressions on the dashboard and the total dollar amount was within the contract specs. However, further investigations showed that there were several days that no impressions were served. In this case, we ended up getting some added value for our client.
If we bottom lined this invoice, this discrepancy would not have been found and our client would not have benefited from the added value received. When you bottom line your vendor invoices you are not verifying that you got what you contracted for, the media plan that was carefully constructed may not be validated, and credits due to the client are not processed. Bottom lining invoices is a bad idea for your agency and a disservice to your client.
Growing up in a top sports market like Philadelphia has had its ups and downs in terms of winning teams. But if nothing else, it’s always an exciting place if you love sports. Eagles, Sixers, Phillies, Flyers have provided year-round conversation, drama, and debate amongst me and my friends. One thing that goes along with those conversations is sports betting. What lines we like, what games to bet, which teams we think are a lock. As early as middle school my friends and I have been betting on sports. Fast forward to 2021 and now we can pick up our cell phones, download a sports betting app, deposit money from our bank account and away we go. And the best part, it’s all legal.
Working for A3 Media, I think about the following question and how it relates to our industry. What impact will the sports betting industry have on media and advertising opportunities?
First some background. In 2018 the Supreme Court overturned a federal ban on sports betting, striking down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) which took away the federal government’s power to regulate sports betting. Sports betting is now legal in 22+ states, with more currently working on legislation. Since the PASPA ban was lifted, over $45 billion has been legally wagered in the U.S., according to Legal Sports Report. However, it is important to understand that there are no national advertising standards or federal agencies in charge of monitoring marketing activities. Rules and guidelines are ever changing. All sports betting practices, including marketing and advertising, are regulated by the individual gaming commissions in each state.
An Increase in Advertising Opportunities
One indicator that there will be growth in sports betting advertising and sponsorships are the number of recent mega media deals. More and more broadcast and cable networks are partnering up with sportsbooks. For example, Fox Sports invested in their own Fox Bet branded app, then there is CBS inking a deal with William Hill to make them their official sportsbook sponsor and both DraftKings and FanDuel are working on plans with Turner Sports.
The interesting thing about these deals will be how they will create a shift in content when it comes to TV, sports radio, social media, mobile apps, and even in-game commentary. Look for television commercials that promote betting apps and offer a bonus or a cash incentive to download their app. I expect an increase in network broadcasters and personalities discussing the betting lines, over/under plays, and even their picks before, during, and after the games. I read a recent article that satellite TV provider Dish Network has partnered with DraftKings to incorporate content into live sports games. Users can then use their DraftKings app to initiate bets, and then view live games that correspond with those bets on their TVs. US sports betting revenue is expected to increase from $2.1 billion in 2021 to $10.1 billion by 2028.
As advertising dollars and revenue increase, expect to see a greater number of things like podcasts and influencer marketing related to sports betting. There will be even more sponsorships from players across the different sports leagues promoting betting apps and websites. I also expect to see some stand-alone sports betting parlors open where patrons can view all the lines, place bets, and watch their games. Look for social media to play a greater role specifically with Twitter. As a real-time platform Twitter can help provide insight, commentary, and video all related to sports matchups.
In conclusion, some may continue to view sports betting as a vice industry that lacks morals and pushes non-suitable content. However, the numbers don’t lie. It’s been shown that there is a rabid following for this industry especially with online and mobile betting. As each generation becomes even more tech savvy than the next, and things like bragging rights and social relevance become more important, sports betting will be commonplace.
In the next 10-15 years the outlook looks strong for advertising and media opportunities related to sports betting. This will lead to increased fan engagement and will ultimately increase overall viewership, making sporting events that much more exciting.
One thing is for sure, sports betting revenue and advertising opportunities are the odds-on favorite to increase for years to come. That’s a stone-cold lock.
Social Media Specialist