The proliferation of so-called “cross-platform” screens for watching TV and video has focused the media industry on measuring and understanding how consumers view advertising and programming content, but it has also created unintended consequences in the way the industry produces, distributes and traffics that content -- creating confusion, inefficiency and new kinds of workflow for advertisers, agencies and the media.
Chief growth officer talks about why some companies are still on the sidelines
A joint partnership from the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As) and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), Ad-ID was born with the idea of making the advertising supply chain more efficient. Ad-ID’s standard allows for the identification of ad assets across every media platform.
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.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bob Liodice is president-CEO of the Association of National Advertisers.
A key ad management company has come on board using the standard digital identifier — dubbed Ad-ID — that’s been mandated for ads using SAG-AFTRA members as of March 31, 2014.
Digital Generation announced Friday that it plans to adopt Ad-ID for commercials within its core operations. DG noted that it handles the “vast majority” of video advertising production, transcoding and distribution for U.S. advertisers and agencies.
The move comes two days after the performers union mailed ballots to its 160,000 members for ratification of a three-year successor deal to its commercials contract, which covers about $1 billion of member earnings annually. SAG-AFTRA’s board has endorsed the contract unanimously and ballots will be counted on May 31.
The provisions of the SAG-AFTRA agreement — hammered out over two months before the tentative agreement was reached on April 6 — require that Ad-ID is included in all commercials that feature SAG-AFTRA talent. The implementation date has been set for March 31, 2014, in order to give the ad industry time to become accustomed to using the identifier.
George Musi, DG’s head of cross media analytics, told Variety that the use of Ad-ID “makes perfect sense” amid the proliferation of platforms on which ads are appearing.
“Actors need to be able to find where their ads are running,” he added. “Otherwise, they are going to be short-changed.”
The basic idea is to replace the multiple methods used to track performers compensation — which is based on how many times and where an ad airs — with a single system.
“Growing media fragmentation across many platforms makes interoperability across TV and digital media platforms essential,” Musi said. “We are well positioned to reduce multi-channel, multi-platform media complexity and enable our clients to more easily track video content and advertising as it migrates across a growing array of devices — whether on TVs, online, tablets, smartphones and video-on-demand systems.”
DG noted in the announcement that it had participated in the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement’s (CIMM) Trackable Asset Cross-Platform Identification (TAXI) initiative — which included involvement of 28 media and entertainment entities from media agencies, advertisers, measurement companies, media outlets, and other vendors.
Currently, about half of the ad industry uses Ad-ID or about 800 users. The mark which is similar to the Universal Product Code for packaged goods, to track when and where a commercial is broadcast.
Ad-ID was developed by the signatories to the SAG-AFTRA commercials contract: the American Association of Advertising Agencies and the Association of National Advertisers.
“One of the challenges we face is the incompatibility and inconsistency of data as it passes through different systems, hardware, software and networks, which are managed by different multichannel operators before reaching data processors,” said Harold Geller, Ad-ID’s chief growth officer. “Decisions made at each step impact data quality and comparability across data sets. Universal adoption of Ad-ID for all advertising assets will eliminate the guesswork in merging and comparing data from internal and a variety of external measurement sources.”
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The advertising industry's tentative contract with actors for commercial production will generate an estimated $238 million in increased payments for commercial actors through a 6% average wage and payment increase. It will also give the Association of National Advertisers something it's long sought: much wider use of it's the Ad-ID standard for identifying advertising assets across all media.
Among other things, the contract increases payments to actors for ads aired online and in other new media; increases the number of cable TV airings for which actors will be paid; increases union members' share of payments for their health and pension plans; and establishes rules for crowd-sourced ads.
On the last point, commercial actors won't be covered under the SAG-AFTRA contract for ads submitted as part of a contest, but actors in winning ads are covered by the contract and non-winning ads have to be removed from circulation after the contest ends.
The deal also increases per diems for meals and travel for actors in commercial shoots.
As a result of the deal, all video and audio commercials featuring SAG-AFTRA talent must be registered with Ad-ID, giving a boost to a tagging system long pushed by the ANA and 4A's but which has been adopted slowly. According to the Ad-ID website, the system identifies "advertising assets (broadcast, print and digital) across all media platforms. It's similar to the UPC code of the packaged goods industry in that it generates a unique identifying code for each advertising asset, and applies that code to all media."
"This is a huge step forward for the industry, as the mandate for Ad-ID guarantees accurate and improved measurement of advertising assets across all platforms and ensures fair and accurate payment of SAG-AFTRA talent," said ANA CEO Bob Liodice in a written statement.