A few months ago, the ad industry had a wakeup call. The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and the ANA-4A's Joint Policy Committee released a mandate for universal adoption of Ad-ID -- a critical step forward for the advertising industry in advancing standards across all platforms for identification, tracking and measurement.
In this age of increased fragmentation of advertising delivery channels and devices, the line between traditional broadcast and online content is blurring. This fragmented landscape presents significant challenges and complexities for the advertising marketplace, particularly around the lack of standards for tracking video advertising assets as they migrate across a growing array of devices, platforms and channels. Ad identification, tracking and measurement are not new problems. But in an era of proliferating platforms and splintered media, they are increasingly complex ones.
There are several vendors that have implemented proprietary watermark or fingerprint services -- meaning that advertisers, agencies, media, and other vendors enter metadata into a variety of systems throughout the ad lifecycle including production, traffic management, digital asset management, broadcast, and business systems.
However, they are not open source or interoperable, making them incompatible systems. The use of a variety of nonstandard, decentralized and homegrown methodologies or disparate organic numbering systems makes sharing, transmitting and exchanging data, including asset-related information and domain-specific metadata between and systems very difficult, if not impossible.
There is currently no ability to deploy and report within a single ad delivery system across channels, platforms and device types. One of the issues with not having a prevalent asset identification methodology in use is that video advertisements are usually embedded with different identifiers for each platform. From platform to platform, a video advertising asset often has several identification codes, making cross-identification nearly impossible. Someone then must combine all of these different systems with different proprietary codes and map one asset identifier to another, usually by manual data entry, increasing the potential for human error. This makes video advertising asset tracking complex and convoluted.
Ad-ID seems to be the answer to the problem. It is equivalent to the UPC code for each advertising asset media, which creates a permanent database or central repository for standardized descriptive information about an ad for sharing and retaining information about every ad and campaign. Ad-ID's goal is to ensure that every piece of creative trafficked across devices carries a common set of production and technical metadata that defines the advertiser name, brand name, product name, creative or commercial title, and creative or commercial length in order to get everyone to start working off the same information.
Measurement is paramount to the context of video advertising, particularly in this fragmented media landscape. Good measurement leads to discovery. Incomplete measurement can damage any effort. Bad measurement leads to mistakes. The advertising ecosystem needs to coalesce around common methodologies. Ad-ID should be implemented by March 31, 2014.