The entire concept of auditing invoices for media placements is something that likely gets overlooked or presumed to be a waste of time. The reality is that although media vendors likely do their very best to place your media as ordered, mistakes occur. Taking the time to audit the invoices received from media vendors will likely save you money.
The first step towards auditing invoices is to keep track of what ads you have placed with which vendors. At Plaid Swan, we develop a schedule which lists each media placement and what was scheduled to run along with the anticipated cost of each item on the schedule. Doing so allows us to rather quickly compare what was expected with what is provided on the invoices or affidavits we receive from each vendor. At a glance we may be able to identify invoices where there is a discrepancy.
Auditing is different depending upon the media that you are looking at. Below is a quick list of some things to look for with regard to the various forms of media.
- Television & Radio:
- Did the ads run when they were supposed to?
- Did they run in the programs they were identified to?
- Was the correct price applied for each spot that ran?
- Was there good distribution over the schedule (i.e. not all spots ran at the same time of day or day of the week)?
- Print (Newspaper, Magazines, etc.):
- Did the ad run on the correct date?
- Was the ad in the appropriate section?
- Was the ad readable and the color (if applicable) what you expected?
- Did you have good separation from your competition (e.g. not right next to them)?
- Out of Home (Transit, Billboard, etc.):
- Was the ad posted on the date expected?
- Was the ad viewable as anticipated or were there unexpected items impeding the view?
- Were you invoiced correctly for the production and placements?
- Was the schedule delivered as promised?
- Did you receive the impressions you expected?
- Were you provided with a delivery report identifying key statistics as promised?
- Did your ad reach the demographics proposed?
- Was the cost (CPM, CPC, etc.) correct?
While this sounds like a lot of work and you may be thinking it is not worth it, you would be surprised to find out how many errors you find. Errors can lead to your being billed for ads you didn’t receive. With advertising already an expensive endeavor, it is paramount that you at least receive what you are paying for. Additionally, if you catch errors before you pay for them, it is far easier to simply not pay for them when submitting payment. Additionally you can negotiate for better added value or perhaps even free or reduced rates based on the frequency with which you note errors.
The process of auditing your media invoices is to confirm that you receive the schedule you are paying for. In our experience, once media vendors know you are auditing their invoices they are likely to pay more attention to ensuring that your ad schedule runs as ordered. This is because they simply don’t want to have to do the work to rectify any errors. If this all seems like more work than you would like to do in-house, our staff at Plaid Swan is happy to assist. We audit every ad no matter what media it runs in to ensure that our clients receive what they are paying for.