QXchange integrates Federated Media’s online platform with QuickBooks.
Federated Media’s mission is to connect independent weblog authors, marketers and influential audiences in an ongoing conversation that feeds everyone involved. Federated Media brings together blogs, websites and social networking applications into ‘federations’ and makes them available for companies and advertising agencies looking for great content and targeted web audiences. Federated Media is located in Sausalito, California.
Federated Media represents outstanding authors whose sites cater to cultural influencers, technology decision makers, early adopters and business leaders. Reaching more than 50 million unique users per month, the company’s federations include technology, small business, media/entertainment, parenting, video gaming and more.
Unlike ad networks or traditional rep firms that offer vast (if undifferentiated) quantities of media properties, Federated Media is committed to quality voices, quality communities and quality conversations. Best-selling author John Battele, a co-founding editor of Wired, founder & publisher of The Industry Standard, and former journalism professor at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, hand-picks the authors and sites of Federated Media.
Federated Media has created a sophisticated online platform that facilitates the company’s interactions with authors and advertisers. Authors can register their web sites and advertising zones and enter into revenue sharing agreements with Federated Media. Advertising firms can also sign up and launch their advertising campaigns by picking the right combination of websites and zones.
About Federated Media
Federated Media is a new media company founded in 2004 and located in Sausalito, California. Federated Media’s mission is to connect independent weblog authors, marketers and influential audiences in an ongoing conversation that feeds everyone involved. Federated Media has federates weblog sites and makes it available for companies and advertising agencies looking for targeted potent web audiences.
The platform is also used to accept the advertising content and deliver the ad impressions through the appropriate websites. The platform also provides the ability to calculate the invoice and payment information for the advertisers and authors. The platform implements the Federated Media business model very effectively.
The invoice and payment information from the platform had to be updated in the accounting systems of Federated Media so that the advertisers could be invoiced and the authors could be paid. In addition, the updates were necessary so that a complete financial picture could be arrived at. Federated Media had been using the QuickBookstm Enterprise system for its accounting. The manual effort involved in making the updates was outstripping the resources available and Federated Media was looking at hiring additional staff to keep up with the work. Literally hundreds of estimates and invoices and more than a thousand purchase orders and bills had to be entered every month. The number of advertisers and authors and the substantial growth on a month by month basis was exacerbating this problem.
Jason Weisberger, the COO of Federated Media and QuickBooks Pro Advisor Amber Fowler embarked on finding a solution to the problem. Their criteria were to find a solution that was flexible, robust and had the ability to interchange data between the platform’s MySQL database and the QuickBooks application. In addition, the realization of the complexity of the data to be interchanged between the two applications motivated them to find an organization with the ability to guide them through the process of automating the data interchange. After an exhaustive search they found QXchange and the CellarStone organization fitting their bill of requirements. “The QXchange application was the most flexible that we could find for the needs we had and we were impressed by the CellarStone team’s knowledge and commitment. That is why I recommended QXchange to Federated Media,” said Amber.
The project was broken up into phases and as a first phase the advertisers and authors signing up on the platform were supposed to be loaded onto the QuickBooks application as Customer and Vendors. In addition advertiser campaign orders had to be created in the accounting application as Estimates and Purchase Orders.
One of the challenges of integrating with QuickBooks is the ability to match data between two systems based on keys. The keys in the QuickBooks are not always accessible and in this case, the platform also needed to have unique and visible key structures. The QXchange application’s flexibility helped surmount this. In addition, estimates and purchase orders had to be updated as sets in QuickBooks and again the QXchange application was able to do this by judicious creation of the identifying information for the estimates and purchase orders. To create the estimates and purchase order, we needed the customer and vendor records to be created first. But the nature of the business also meant that the product service items such as sites and zones were also dynamically created by the authors as they signed up to the platform. These sites and zones had to be created in QuickBooks as a hierarchical item list automatically.
All of these various updates were created using QXchange and after detailed testing, were set up as scheduled runs in the system in the proper order. The benefit was an almost immediate reduction of the effort that the accounting staff was spending on the entry of all this data.
The second phase of the project was to take the actual serving up of ads on author websites and create them as invoices for customers and payments for vendors. In addition, credit and debit memos had to be created for additional adjustments. This required sensitivity to the timing of the data so that duplication of data did not happen. This again was done very effectively just using QXchange. As part of this phase and the go-live, we were able to identify many data integrity issues and fix all of them for a smooth exchange of data.
The final phase of the project was to take the data from the QuickBooks application and update the MySQL platform. The bills, payments and vendor credits needed to be updated back to the platform so that authors could see their current payment data anytime they wished. This was also possible using the basic QXchange application.
During the project, Federated Media went through changes in the design of the Federated Media platform, upgraded to QuickBooks to a new version and worked through a lot of growth. The QXchange application was able to handle all of these with aplomb. No custom changes were necessary for the application to handle Federated Media’s needs. In addition the QXchange tool has made it very easy to extract data from the accounting systems to provide executive reporting.
“The QXchange application has been instrumental in scaling our company’s back office to keep up with the front office. The CellarStone team has been monitoring our processing regularly and has been available at all times to help us with all our issues. I highly recommend QXchange and the CellarStone team to other customers who have data integration needs,” said Jason.