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Historically, Edelman would reconcile expenses for each customer, campaign, and digital channel manually. The process was made that much more complex by the fact that Edelman often runs multiple campaigns for the same client concurrently. In addition to this, statements from each digital channel partner needed to be reviewed and mapped back to the appropriate client campaign.
Only after this lengthy, labour-intensive reconciliation process was complete would the accounts payables team make payments to digital channel partners via wire transfer. This meant that payments to digital channel partners were sometimes delayed, depending on the volume of clients and campaigns being reconciled.
Edelman decided to turn to their international banking partner HSBC to implement an innovative virtual card web portal solution.
Best practice and innovation
With the virtual card web portal solution, Edelman can now generate a unique virtual card number in real-time for each campaign, digital channel, and customer. This includes customising usage parameters such as specific time and date ranges, certain merchant categories and more to minimise the risk of fraud and misuse while ensuring compliance with corporate policies.
This eliminates the need for Edelman to have multiple physical cards, which involves cumbersome application processes. Instead, expenses charged to virtual cards are mapped back to one physical card. That means expenses are organised automatically, essentially eliminating the entire manual reconciliation process. The treasury team now need only to access a consolidated card statement via the web portal for an at-a-glance overview of what was spent and where.
With the virtual card web portal solution, Edelman has successfully segmented digital advertising spend by campaign, customer and digital channel. This has helped to:
- Improve working capital by increasing days payable outstanding (DPO).
- Streamline secure payment processes.
- Enhance visibility into transaction details.
- Reduce exposure to fraud with controls around use.
The use of the web portal and virtual card platform also eases the amount of time the treasury team spent on reconciliation.
In terms of the PR industry, Edelman is most probably the first to implement this unique card service. It enables the firm to issue virtual card numbers to its vendors such as Google, Facebook and Instagram.
“We are currently in the age where online advertising is deemed to be better received than the other conventional methods. Through the virtual card flexibility of issuance, we can fully customise our limits and charges per card. It is very common in the PR industry to be charged on a ‘per hit’ basis as potential consumers tend to ‘click’ into the online advertisement being showcased by Edelman on a social media platform, which in turn results in Edelman being charged by the social media companies,” explains Lionel Ang, Treasury Manager.
With appropriate limits in place for each card, Edelman can accurately customise cards suited for their clients’ budget without the worry of exceeding the intended budget allocated for that campaign.