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Media Link

The Clients & Profits Media Link is a stand-alone application that imports broadcast orders, print insertion orders, and vendor invoices from popular media buying systems into your C&P database. It imports media orders and invoices from media buying systems that support the Standard Media Interface.

preferences

Click the Import button, then find and open the “media_buys” folder. Your media buying system will save export files for each order or invoice in the media_buys “drop” folder on your file server. Once you click the import button you will need to find and open the media_buys folder, select the file to import and click OK.

The printed media log provides a hard-copy version of the window. Since the media log’s entries aren’t saved forever (they’re saved only until someone clears them), a copy of each day’s media log can be printed as a permanent record—but it’s not required.

It’s important to verify that imported media buys were imported accurately. A routine needs to be established between the media and accounting departments to double-check the day’s media orders. When a station order is made by a media buyer, they should print a duplicate copy for the accounting department.

Click the Import button, then find and open the “media_buys” folder. Your media buying system will save export files for each order or invoice in the media_buys “drop” folder on your file server. Once you click the import button you will need to find and open the media_buys folder.

The printed media log provides a hard-copy version of the window. Since the media log’s entries aren’t saved forever (they’re saved only until someone clears them), a copy of each day’s media log can be printed as a permanent record—but it’s not required.

Select the media buying system you use from this drop down menu. Media Link imports media orders and invoices from SmartPlus, Strata, Tapscan, and other media buying systems that support the Standard Media Interface.

If you bill a different commission rate than that in your media program, then set the option Use BO commission from to Clients & Profits. Normally this is done if you bill at a lower commission than the standard 15%. The gross amount will be recalculated during the import per your client commission rate entered in Clients & Profits.

If you bill a different commission rate than that in your media program, then set the option Use IO commission from to Clients & Profits. Normally this is done if you bill at a lower commission than the standard 15%. The gross amount will be recalculated during the import per your client commission rate entered in Clients & Profits.

If your shop doesn’t charge media commissions to clients, be sure to check the Always bill net option. This setting forces all imported broadcast and/or insertion orders to be billed at net cost instead of gross cost. You also have the option to notify a staffer when media orders are imported.

If you've selected the option to have Clients & Profits notify a staffer when media orders are imported into the program, enter the name of the staffer and their email address here.



Using Media Link

The Clients & Profits Media Link is a stand-alone application that imports broadcast orders, print insertion orders, and vendor invoices from popular media buying systems into your C&P database. It imports media orders and invoices from SmartPlus, Strata, Tapscan, and other media buying systems that support the Standard Media Interface.

The “standard media interface” is a technical specification that defines the interface between media buying systems and accounting systems like Clients & Profits. It is a generic interface designed especially for ad agencies to simplify tranferring data between media buying systems and accounting programs. The SMI specification is used by developers to program export files from media to accounting. You don’t need to know anything about the SMI in order to use the C&P Media Link.

Media buying systems that support SMI, such as SmartPlus, Tapscan, and Strata export station and publication orders from media plans into specially-formatted text files. A separate text file is created for each broadcast order, insertion order, or vendor invoice. Each text file includes the details of the order (e.g., station ID, run dates, number of spots, rating, cost, etc.) or invoice needed by Clients & Profits for job costing, billing, and media accounting.

Here’s how it works: A media buyer enters broadcast orders, insertion orders, and vendor invoices into SmartPlus, Tapscan, or Strata. The media buying system then exports a copy of the order or invoice as a text file on your file server. A broadcast order export file will have a .TBY extension, an insertion order a .PBY extension, and a vendor invoice a .VAP extension. The C&P Media Link looks for these export files (either one at a time or automatically at different intervals), importing the data into your Clients & Profits database as broadcast orders, insertion orders, or vendor invoices. The imported orders appear in the Insertion/Broadcast/Interactive/Outdoor Orders window as broadcast or insertion orders—just as if you’d typed them in yourself. These orders can be billed to clients just like any other order. The imported invoices appear in Accounts Payable—just as if you’d typed them in yourself.

The C&P Media Link application lets you import media buys as they happen, one at a time. Or, automatic importing can be scheduled at various intervals (e.g., every hour, every day, etc.). This option lets you run the C&P Media Link unattended on a spare computer somewhere in the office, importing new buys automatically throughout the day.

The C&P Media Link really pays off when you’re buying large amounts of broadcast or print media. Rekeying dozens of buys each week into Clients & Profits would be tedious and probably error-prone. Since the Media Link imports the actual media buy, there’s no double-entry and no missing data.

The media department starts the process by adding media plans into their media buying system (e.g., Tapscan, SmartPlus, Strata). When the buyer finalizes the plan and places the order, the media buying system exports the order and its buys into a specially-formatted text file—one for each order. This file is saved into a special folder (named “media_buys”) on the file server.

The export file contains the details of the media order or invoice, including station/publication, run/issue dates, number of spots, cost, and more. These files are held in the media_buys folder on the file server until they are imported by the Media Link.

The C&P Media Link opens these text files, determines whether the file contains a broadcast order, print insertion order, or vendor invoice then saves the data into the Clients & Profits—just as if it were entered manually. The export file is then moved automatically to the imported_buys folder (within the media_buys folder) for storage just in case it needs to be accessed at a later time.

To use the Media Link, you’ll first need to configure the media buying system to save its export files into the media_buys folder on your file server (you’ll probably need help from the media system’s helpdesk with this.) There’s nothing on the server to configure; since both Macs and Windows-based PCs can usually access the same file server, any kind of computer can be used for importing with the Media Link.

Starting Media Link

Before you can begin importing media buys, you’ll need to (1) create the “drop folder” into which the export files from your media buying system will be saved, (2) configure the interface in your media buying system to export to this drop folder, (3) create the the folder that saves the imported buys, and (4) configure the Media Link preferences to use these folders.

The “drop folder” is a folder (directory) on your file server that’s shared between your media buying system and Clients & Profits. This is the location where the media buying system will “drop” new export files, as well as the location where the C&P Media Link will look for them when importing. The name of this folder must be called media_buys.

Before importing for the first time using the C&P Media Link, manually create two folders on the server. Name them media_buys and imported_buys. Place the imported_buys folder within the media_buys folder. We recommend that you place these folders no more than one directory deep and don’t use any special characters or spaces in the path to these folders. The media_buys folder contains new export files from your media buying system. After an export file is imported by the Media Link into Clients & Profits, it is moved into the imported_buys folder. Imported files are saved indefinitely in case they are needed again (in case, for example, of damaged data). The files in the imported_buys folder are purged manually at your discretion.

Each media buying system has different steps for configuring its media interface. First, you’ll need to configure the media buying system to create Clients & Profits (Standard Media Interface) export files and save them into the media_buys drop folder. You’ll probably need to call the media buying system’s tech support line for guidance.

There is no need to set the path to the media_buys folder in preferences. To set the path to the media_buys folder in Clients & Profits, simply click the Import button. The select import file window opens and this is where the path is selected. Make sure any text file exists in both folders before setting the path. You need to double click on this file to properly set the path.

Starting the C&P Media Link

Unlike older versions of Clients & Profits, Media Link is now incorporated directly into the program, so there are no additional applications or plug-ins to install. Starting Media Link is simple, since it can be accessed directly via the menus in Clients & Profits.

1 Choose uMedia > Media Link.

The Media Link window opens, displaying your Media Link Log.

The Media Link keeps a log of all kinds of activity, including every time a media buy is imported. It also logs any failed imports, such as when a client or vendor does not exist in Clients & Profits. The log can be printed by clicking the Print button. The log is maintained continuously until someone clicks the Clear button to delete it. If media buys are automatically imported, users can check the log throughout the day to check the day’s activity.

Changing Media Link preferences

The preference settings and options let you control how some parts of the Media Link will behave. These settings let you turn on and off certain functions, such as automatic importing, activity logging, etc.

The first thing you should do is select a media buying system from the pop-up menu. This does not change how the C&P Media Link imports data, rather just provides a personal feel to the Media Link. The C&P Media Link imports files in one format, the Standard Media Interface. Media buying systems must export files in this format to work with the Media Link. The path settings are required. These settings tell the Media Link where to look for exported media files, and where to move the files once they’re imported. You will not be able to save the Preferences window unless the paths are properly set. First, manually create a folder called media_buys on your server, then within that folder, create another called imported_buys. Place any text file within each of these folders.

Second, choose the Get Path option to the right of the path setting in the Media Link Preferences window and select the text file in the media_buys folder for the "get from" path and the text file in the imported_buys folder for the "move to" path. You can delete the text files when done. If you use real exported orders to set the path, then move them to the media_buys folder for importing when finished setting the paths.

When should I automatically import? If you import less than ten media buys a day, manually importing each buy at the end of the day is probably the most practical. By importing manually, you can decide when the buys are imported—and it doesn’t tie up a computer. But if you’re importing dozens of media buys each day, you’ll save time by automatically importing. Keep in mind that you’ll need a dedicated computer (although an older model will do just fine) that just runs the Media Link. Also, running the Media Link full-time uses up one of your user slots, which means one less user can work on Clients & Profits while the Media Link is running. If you choose to import once a day, you can turn on automatic importing to expedite the process. If automatic importing is turned on, when the Media Link is opened it will ask you if you want to import buys at this time. Say yes, and it will import all the buys in your media _buys folder (so that you don’t have to do them one at a time). You can also click the start automatic importing button (green arrows) which will also ask you if you want to import buys at this time. We recommend you import one at a time until you get the hang of it and feel comfortable importing automatically.

Know how you bill media in Clients & Profits

If your shop doesn’t charge media commissions to clients, be sure to check the Always bill net option. This setting forces all imported broadcast and/or insertion orders to be billed at net cost instead of gross cost.

As well, if you bill a different commission rate than that in your media program, then set the option Use BO or IO commission from to Clients & Profits. Normally this is done if you bill at a lower commission than the standard 15%. The gross amount will be recalculated during the import per your client commission rate entered in Clients & Profits. Enter the client commission rate in Clients & Profits under View > Clients > Billing Info.

Make sure your media buying system is not already exporting at this lower gross cost, otherwise you will incorrectly reduce your billing amount if you choose to use the Clients & Profits commission rate. If it is already exporting the gross cost at the lower commission then leave the setting at your media buying system (SmartPlus, Strata, TAPSCAN, etc.).

To edit preferences

1 Choose Media Link > Preferences or click the Preferences tool bar button.

The Preferences window opens, showing the system’s current settings and options.



2 Make your changes.

3 Click Save.

Preferences can be changed any time, as often as needed. The changes you make take effect immediately. You don’t need to restart your computer or the Media Link application.

Importing Media Data

Media orders and invoices can be imported individually or imported automatically at user-defined intervals (e.g., once a day, every hour, every five minutes, etc.). If the media buyers place fewer than 10 orders a day, they can be easily imported one-by-one (or turn on automatic importing after opening the Media Link and import all buys in the media_buys folder at one time). If your agency is heavily involved in media buying and places many orders each day, the automatic importing is much more practical. In this case, a spare Mac or PC needs to be set up on the network just for the Media Link. When enabled, the C&P Media Link will automatically look for any new (or revised) media buys then import them into Clients & Profits.

It’s important to verify that imported media buys were imported accurately. A routine needs to be established between the media and accounting departments to double-check the day’s media orders. When a station order is made by a media buyer, they should print a duplicate copy for the accounting department. When the media order is imported by the C&P Media Link, the accounting department should compare the printed media order to the imported order in the Insertion/Broadcast/Interactive/Outdoor Orders window. If the order number, number of media buy lines, total rating, total spots, and net and gross amounts match then the order was imported correctly.

Importing media orders and invoices is a one-way process. Since the media buying system takes priority over Clients & Profits for media ordering, all changes and revisions to a media order must be made in the media buying system, then re-exported to the media_buys folder for importing into C&P. As well, changing an imported order in Clients & Profits will not update the media buying system. Orders are printed out of your media buying system. They are imported into C&P for accounting purposes.

The order number is assigned by the media buying system, not the C&P Media Link or C&P Preferences. It has to be unique, or else the order will be handled as a revision. When a revised media order is imported, it completely replaces the original broadcast or insertion order. The same order can be revised and reimported any number of times. Once an order is billed in C&P it can’t be reimported (the Media Link will prevent it), then any changes to the order in your media buying system have to made manually to the order itself in C&P so that they agree.

How the C&P Media Link handles vendor invoices

If you use your media buying system to reconcile media orders with vendor invoices, those invoices can be automatically imported into your C&P database using the Media Link. If you don’t use the reconciliation function, then enter your media vendor A/P manually into C&P as you normally do, referencing the appropriate order and line numbers.

It's important that you have already imported the Media Order from your media program into C&P before you import the Accounts Payable invoice for that order.

The Media Link imports vendor media invoices into the Accounts Payable data file, where they appear as unposted invoices. Imported invoices contain the media order number and other details necessary for reconciliation in Clients & Profits, so there’s nothing more to enter. Vendor invoices are imported as job costs (or as media accruals; see below), picking up the job and task from the broadcast or insertion order.

In C&P, imported vendor invoices will be imported as a media accruals if that option is enabled in C&P Preferences.

How to import media data using Media Link

1 Click the Import button, then find and open the “media_buys” folder.

Your media buying system will save export files for each order or invoice in the media_buys “drop” folder on your file server. Once you click the import button you will need to find and open the media_buys folder. Once found, you’ll see a list of newly-exported media text files that are ready for importing. Once the text file is imported, it will be moved into the the “imported_buys” folder.

Only one media order or invoice can be imported at a time. To import many buys at once, you’ll need to use the “automatic import” feature (see the next page).

The Media Link will error check the export file when importing looking for a valid client number, vendor number, job number, job task, and if the order is already in C&P (and billed). For vendor invoices, the vendor number, invoice number, and order number are validated. The Media Link will log an error message if any of these errors are found and stop the import. These error checks are also done when automatic importing.

2 Select the media text file you wish to import.

Any text file in the “media_buys” folder can be selected. It does not matter in what order you choose to import the files. The Media Link then checks the text file’s extension (either .TBY, .PBY, or .VAP) which determines whether the text file is a broadcast order (i.e., .TBY), a print insertion order (i.e., .PBY), or a vendor invoice (i.e., .VAP). This extension determines how the text file will be handled.

Media text files can only be imported from the media_buys folder. If you try selecting a media text file from another location, you’ll get an error.

As the media buy is processed, the C&P Media Link shows you how many buy lines are being imported. When the media buy is completely imported, a log entry is created, the text file is moved into the “imported_buys” folder, and an OK message appears telling you that the order was imported successfully. (If enabled, a log entry is saved automatically.)

This step can be repeated now for any remaining media buys. Once all of the media buys are imported, it’s a good idea to check them in Clients & Profits.

3 Check the imported media order in Clients & Profits.

Imported media buys are saved as broadcast or insertion orders in the Purchase Orders data file (vendor invoices are saved as unposted A/P payables). They appear just as if you’d entered them yourself from the printed media order. Once imported, they can be billed like any other media order.

You can easily check the imported buys by comparing them to the orders printed from the media buying systems.

To see the imported order in Clients & Profits:

1 Open Clients & Profits

2 Choose Accounting > Insertion/Broadcast/Interactive/Outdoor Orders.

If the imported media order was the last-added order, it will appear automatically. If not, click the Previous button until it displays.

Every line of the printed order should appear on the imported order. Be sure to check that the client, vendor, job, and task, as well as the total number of spots and the total cost are identical. If not, delete the imported order, re-export the media order from the buying system, then import it again using the Media Link. Or, just export it again and import it (since it will be treated as a revision and replaced in C&P).

Later, the media vendor’s invoice will be reconciled with the media order in your media buying system then imported into Accounts Payable in C&P. You can also manually add your media A/P invoices into C&P against the imported orders if you do not utilize the reconciliation function of your media buying system.

To start the automatic import

1 Click the (Start - Green Arrows) button, or choose Media Link > Start Automatic Import.

You will be prompted if you want to import orders now. Click yes or no. If you click no, then it will import at the next designated time unattended. If you click yes, it will import files in the media_buys folder now, as well as import at the next designed time.

The current status field will change to “waiting for the next scheduled import.” This means the Media Link is ready for the next automatic import. The import interval indicates how often the Media Link will check for new media buys; it can be changed in Preferences to happen more frequently or less often. Once the automatic import has started, it will run unattended until it is stopped. After completing an import it changes the next designated import time automatically, per the time interval in Media Link Preferences, and will import again at that time.

The automatic importing stops if a problem file is encountered (e.g. a client does not exist, etc.). To continue importing, fix this file, then restart automatic importing. The Media Link will not skip past the problem file and go to the next file. Any problem files must be fixed before it goes to the next file. You can temporarily remove the file from the media_buys folder to continue importing, then later fix it so that it will successfully import.

To prevent the Media Link from interfering with the nightly backup, it will automatically quit at 10 PM.

To stop the automatic import

1 Click the (Stop - Red Arrows) button, or choose Media Link > Stop Automatic Import.

Any new media buys exported by the buying system will sit in the media_buys folder until the automatic import is started again.

The automatic importing can be started and stopped any number of times without affecting the database.

Choosing Media Link > Stop Automatic Import is temporary—it doesn’t disable the “always import” option in Preferences. The next time the Media Link application is started, it will automatically import media files at the specified interval.

Reading the media link log

The Media Link keeps a log of all kinds of activity, including every time a media buy is imported. It also logs any failed imports, such as when a client or vendor does not exist in Clients & Profits. The log is displayed automatically when the Media Link window is opened. It can also be printed by clicking the Print button. The log is maintained continuously until someone clicks the Clear button to delete it. If media buys are automatically imported, users can check the log throughout the day to check the day’s activity.

To view the log

1 Click on the (i.e., Show Log) button, or choose uMedia > Media Link.

The Media Link Log is automatically displayed, listing the day’s log entries. Each entry is automatically stamped with the current date and time, and shows the media order number (which is generated by the media buying system, not Clients & Profits). The entry’s status describes the event (e.g., ”ok” means the media order or invoice was successfully imported). Any problems are noted in the log entry’s status. If automatic importing is enabled, each scheduled import will create a log entry—even if there were no new media buys to import. If you find automatic importing has stopped, check the last log entry to identify the problem with the export file that won’t import.

Entries on the media log can be sorted by clicking on one of the column headings. You can change the sort order of any of the columns by clicking on the Sort buttons. The media log can contain thousands of entries.

To print the media log

The printed media log provides a hard-copy version of the window.

1 Click on the Print button.

Since the media log’s entries aren’t saved forever (they’re saved only until someone clears them), a copy of each day’s media log can be printed as a permanent record—but it’s not required.

To clear the log

Entries on the media log are retained until the log is cleared. Anyone can erase the log by clicking the Clear button. Once the log is cleared, those entries are erased permanently.

1 Click on the Clear Log button.

Although the log can contain thousands of entries, viewing and printing a very large log can be slow. Clearing the log regularly will make it easier to focus on the most recent activity.



"Hands down, this Clients & Profits Helpdesk is the best of any support team." -- Kate Mistler, Fabiano Communications