Several weeks ago, SAG-AFTRA, the union representing all commercial talent, and the ANA-4A's Joint Policy Committee, representing the advertising industry, agreed on a three-year contract. Union ratification is expected shortly.
Among its many provisions, this extraordinarily complex deal provides the foundation for making commercial-talent management simpler and fairer for all. What is the key? It's Ad-ID.
Ad-ID is a coding system for all advertising assets. It is the equivalent of a UPC. We all know the powerful and universal benefits that came from the UPC common coding. The same principle applies to Ad-ID for all TV, video, radio and digital advertising assets.
Right now, only about a third of commercials use Ad-ID codes. This has handicapped the marketing supply chain and relegated it to be far more inefficient and unproductive than it should be. There is substantial waste, inefficiency, errors, re-work and manual intervention because parts of our system are stuck with archaic analog processes. This is especially evident in cross-platform commercial traffic management.
Common coding could unlock as much as $2 billion of productivity for advertisers, agencies, suppliers and the media to share.
Importantly, Ad-ID will improve the quality of syndicated measurement. A common coding system would provide immense benefits, including enhanced ratings measurement and advanced cross-platform analytics.
Marketers will not only know that they're getting what they paid for -- no more SD ads in HD slots or wrong ads at the wrong time -- they will be able to compare the success of ads across platforms and adjust their spend accordingly. Cross-platform analysis will allow marketers to eliminate low-performing ads and invest in high-performing ads.
SAG-AFTRA and the JPC recognized that Ad-ID would provide for more effective data collection and tracking. It would also provide the basis for fairer payments -- payments based on the gross rating points of a commercial. A new system is being built collaboratively by both parties. It has been tested, and we know that it works.
However, to build it out and make it totally operational requires making Ad-ID its foundation. Without Ad-ID, this system could not function -- and the talent-payment system could not advance.
This is the core reason why Ad-ID is now required for all commercials no later than March 31, 2014.
But now is the time to get the ball rolling. The complexities of planning and executing complete marketing campaigns are significant.
Companies should make this transition ahead of the fall production crunch to ensure that everything is in place by the conclusion of the grace period.
The Ad-ID team has a section on its website to provide marketers, agencies and other stakeholders with information about the Ad-ID requirement.
As a first step, we encourage marketers to reach out to agencies and give them a timeline to make the transition. Agencies, in turn, should make sure that clients understand the new requirements and identify what to do to get onboard as soon -- and as seamlessly -- as possible.
In gearing up for the conversion, advertisers and agencies should clearly understand three things:
Ad-ID is not expensive. An Ad-ID code costs just $40. That's it. $40. It is the cheapest "digital investment" the industry will ever make.
Ad-ID is easy to use. The technology has been upgraded and there is a support team available to help make the transition smooth.
Ad-ID is widely supported by the industry. Many major trade associations, a wide swath of broadcasting companies and the broadcast-engineering community have lined up in support of Ad-ID.
The Ad-ID requirement from SAG-AFTRA and the JPC is an appropriate recognition of our digital reality. We have the tools to significantly improve our processes. We just need to start using them.
Last October, I dubbed 2013 the "Year of Accountability." With a uniform coding system finally in place, more effective measurement and data management can join forces to improve accountability. The possibilities and the opportunities of aligning the industry are profound. It's time we got our hands on them.