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Buyer's Guide

by Eileen O'Loughlin,
Market Research Associate
Last Updated: March 23, 2017

Newspapers and other publication and media businesses have unique revenue funnels compared to traditional businesses. There’s revenue coming in from advertising, subscriptions and sponsorships. And then there’s a ton of expenses coming out for publication productions and other resources that have to be tracked.

As such, accounting software is an integral component of any major business today, especially a media and newspaper business that has multiple streams of revenue. Media and newspaper accounting software can help business managers and owners gain greater awareness and accuracy for their financial books. But not all accounting software is created equally. Some accounting systems will be better suited for media outlets like newspapers, magazines and other publications.

Here's what we'll cover:

What Is Media and Newspaper Accounting Software?
Common Features of Media and Newspaper Accounting Software
Benefits and Potential Issues of Media and Newspaper Accounting Software
Evaluating Media and Newspaper Accounting Software

What Is Media and Newspaper Accounting Software?

Accounting software for entertainment or publishing industries take into account the different sources of revenue and the relationship-based nature of these industries. In general, the most basic features of accounting software typically include capabilities such as:

    • Ledgering/bookkeeping
    • Accounts (both payable and receivable)
    • Analytics reports and dashboards
    • Employee payroll
    • All these features are commonly found throughout basic accounting software. Users can leverage these features to collect, monitor and analyze business costs, expenditures and revenue. The software can even break down this data into specific business organizations and individual employee performance.

Specialized media and newspaper accounting software also often merges with ad sales, scheduling, ratings, subscription management and other types of media or publishing technology features. Media and newspaper accounting software is meant to provide users with a seamless, integrated experience to record and analyze revenue flows for their entire business.

When researching accounting systems, there are a number of features to be on the lookout for. We’ve put this guide together to help point out the accounting software functionality most important to those in the media, as well as tips on evaluating these solutions.

Common Features of Media & Newspaper Accounting Software

As well as accounts payable/receivable and other basic accounting functionality, consider the following features:

Comprehensive digital campaign and project management Ensure that your accounting software is setup to manage the ins and outs of a media company. For example, integrate ad sales and placements, manage your trading partners and campaign data, classify data according to category and language (if necessary), know who’s working on which projects and reassign them accordingly etc.
Ratings and performance evaluation Enterprise and best-of-breed solutions will support the inclusion of Nielsen data, sales figures and distribution reports to support competitive analysis and ensure relevance in the marketplace.
Scheduling Incorporate programming schedules, talent booking/media buys and even compare for clashes and competing programming.
Ad sales management Advertising is the backbone of the entertainment and publishing industries. With ad sales continuing to rise, dependable communication between buyer and seller is more important than ever. Ensure your media accounting solution supports ad sales by recording account information, media buys, billing and spot trades or make-goods.
Customer relationship management Manage subscriptions and retail distribution. Store customer and distributor information like address, subscription history and any interactions to support subscription renewals or expansion into related markets.
Automated web-based classified ads management Helps create more efficient ads management and reduce risk of errors associated with rekeying classified ads manually. Integrates your classified advertising system with your website, to route payments through accounting while ensuring ad copy goes directly to the classifieds department.

Benefits and Potential Issues of Media and Newspaper Accounting Software

The main benefits that come from the adoption, implementation and optimization of formal accounting management software are vast and highly beneficial. Accounting systems enable businesses to gain greater transparency into incoming and outgoing money. It’s this insight into costs and expenditures that helps you make more informed and impactful decisions to take your business to the next level.

This transparency come from the vast amount of easy-to-digest reports and dashboards that summarize technical information into actionable takeaways for your business. These industry-specific accounting platforms offer newfound avenues for you to optimize your business strategies for success.

There’s no doubt media and newspaper accounting software offers many benefits, but there are plenty of concernable issues to discern when implementing a system. For example, not all accounting software for these publication businesses includes the necessary back office features. If you go with a system that doesn’t include additional publication business capabilities, you’ll need your system to integrate with software for those additional features.

Another issue you need to address before choosing your new accounting software is scalability. These are obviously turbulent times for media, newspapers and other publications. It can be tough to discern where your business will be in a year, or two or five, but it’s something you have to try and consider when selecting software.

Evaluating Media and Newspaper Accounting Software

No one needs to tell you that with the growth of digital channels (MOBILE!), the business models for media and publishing industry companies are changing in a way we haven’t seen since the invention of the VCR. These changes can be particularly stressful if the organization is still relying on an inflexible generic accounting system, which can slow down the accounting phase, reducing staff efficiency and increasing costs.

While your financial department likely has and will always be a cost center for your business, the right accounting software can go a long way in reducing those costs and getting your accounting business out of the red and into the black.

When evaluating media, newspaper or other entertainment or publishing industry accounting systems, ask the following questions:

    • Is it designed specifically for your segment of the industry (i.e., TV or film; newspaper or magazine; content development or distribution)?
    • What is your primary source of revenue? Is this software designed to track payments for that type of source?
    • Do you want only accounting capabilities, or more features to support business/content development/sales?
    • Do you want to integrate your software with your website?

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