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.
In a move that’s likely to jumpstart the rollout of Ad-ID in the radio industry, the new contract settlement between SAG-AFTRA and the advertising industry will require all commercials to include an Ad-ID code. “For the radio industry this is a significant move,” Ad-ID chief growth officer Harold Geller says.
Only 12% of radio commercials currently include the code, he says, compared to roughly half for television. With any spot using a union voiceover talent mandated to now include Ad-ID, Geller predicts soon at least one-third of radio spots will carry the identifying information. SAG-AFTRA, the 4As and the Association of National Advertisers all agreed to the requirement as the new contract ties voiceover pay more closely with airplay impressions. Under the union contract — which still needs to be ratified by members — there’s a grace period through March 31, 2014 to give broadcasters and advertisers time to ramp up Ad-ID use. Using Ad-ID would help voice talent more easily track when and where their spots air. “It was one of the least contentious things in this negotiation, because there was a need for it,” Geller says.
Referred to as a UPC for advertising, the 12-character Ad-ID code is being pushed by radio’s largest national advertisers. In addition to helping SAG-AFTRA voice talent more easily track their spots, it will also help sort out some of the biggest problems the union sees with radio spots, including the lack of consistency in labeling commercials and media outlets. The requirement will also apply to online-only commercials. Live reads are the only ads not covered, although Geller says some advertisers are now putting an Ad-ID on top of the script.
Geller says the trafficking and sales software systems are already onboard, pointing out that even locally non-union produced spots can easily create Ad-ID by entering things like an advertiser’s name, commercial length and spot title into a web portal.
Besides making advertising more accountable, ANA president Bob Liodice says the use of Ad-ID will “eliminate costly errors” that come from the use of several different tracking numbers put on spots. The nine-year old effort will issue its one millionth code in the coming weeks, and the focus for radio is turning to industry education.
SAG-AFTRA and the ad industry will begin using a standard digital identifier — dubbed Ad-ID — in a little less than a year, assuming that members of the performers union ratify the tentative deal.
Leaders of the union OKd the three-year successor pact Sunday, triggering a ratification vote next month by the 160,000 SAG-AFTRA members. The provisions require that Ad-ID is included in all commercials that feature SAG-AFTRA talent, with the implementation date set for March 31, 2014, in order to give the ad industry time to become accustomed to using the identifier.
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.
“The current system is very haphazard,” said Harold S. Geller, chief growth officer of Ad-ID. “It’s crucial that the industry do this as the number of platforms increases.”
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. It was developed by the signatories to the commercials contract: the American Association of Advertising Agencies and the Association of National Advertisers.
Bob Liodice, president and CEO of the ANA and CEO of Ad-ID, disclosed details of the agreement Wednesday.
“This mandate is a critical step forward for Ad-ID and the advertising industry as a whole,” he said. “Full adoption of Ad-ID will enable greater transparency and accountability and eliminate costly errors associated with the inconsistent use of advertising asset identifiers. To ensure consistency with the SAG-AFTRA contract provisions, we strongly recommend that the transition to Ad-ID codes for all television, radio and digital commercial production begin as soon as possible.”
Liodice told Variety that he’s determined to get 100% of the ad industry to use Ad-ID by next March. He also said that the issue was not a source of contention during the two months of negotiations with the union.
“I think both sides saw this as a win-win,” he added.
SAG-AFTRA had no comment.
Ad-ID was unanimously endorsed last October by the boards of the AAAA and ANA as the industry standard for commercial advertising coding.
The new SAG-AFTRA contract also provides that both sides will continue to study a structural revamp of the compensation system based on gross rating points rather than the traditional pay-per-play method — a change that the industry has been seeking since 2009.
Article written by:
This article, written by Douglas Quenqua, was recently published in MediaPost. You can read or comment on the original article on MediaPost's web site.
It may not be a glamorous job, but somebody had to figure out a way to keep track of the world’s billions of bits of advertising. Here’s to the 4A's and the ANA for finally helping Adland sort itself out.
To understand why the world needs Ad-ID, consider the legend of Donut_15. (All names are withheld to protect the embarrassed.) In 2010, a major broadcast network received an e-mail from a media agency containing a commercial labeled Donut_15 that was supposed to run on the network’s digital platforms. It was a new version of an ad that had already run on the TV network itself.
Unfortunately, the digital version was no good, so the network went in search of a better copy. But they couldn’t find any Donut_15 in their library, and the digital agency connected to the account had never heard of it, either. Going by the name, the network started searching and asking for any 15-second spots about donuts (Dunkin Donuts? Entenmanns?), but to no avail.
After thirty minutes of confused phone calls and head scratching, the network discovered the problem: Donut_15 was not a 15-second spot about donuts. It was a 30-second car commercial in which an office worker on his way to a meeting takes an action-filled detour to pick up — wait for it — donuts. The “15” indicated that it was the 15th take of the shoot. The network had a high-quality copy of the ad in its library all along, but because it was labeled differently, nobody could find it.
It’s mishaps like these — to say nothing of networks airing the wrong commercial, or vendors waiting on payments for ads that seem to disappear — that spurred the development of Ad-ID, a digital identification system that provides a unique code for every piece of advertising. Like the UPC system for retail products, Ad-ID lets agencies, media companies, distributors and vendors tag every advertising asset so it can be tracked seamlessly through the supply chain.
“It provides every ad that’s created with a unique code that carries through from time of inception to whatever media it crosses into,” says Duke Fanelli, SVP of marketing and communications for the Association of National Advertisers, which collaborated with the American Association of Advertising Agencies to create Ad-ID. “An advertiser, agency or media company can track where that ad is at any given time, and nobody’s renaming it. It’s a unique code that only one ad will ever have.”
Though it was introduced in 2003, it was in 2012 that the boards of directors of both the 4As and the ANA voted to make Ad-ID the industry standard for all advertising asset coding, effective January 2014. That’s one reason that MediaPost has named Ad-ID — the company jointly created by the ANA and 4As to provide and promote the system of the same name — as Supplier of the Year.
Of course, ad identification is not a new problem. But in an era of proliferating platforms and splintered media, it is an increasingly complex and expensive one.
The previous ID system, ISCI (Industry Standard Coding Identification), is a relic of a time when there were three television networks and no such thing as advertising on a phone, much less on a tablet or in an elevator. Today, an ID system has to track an ad through multiple formats and endless subcontractors, making it possible for advertisers not only to keep tabs on their assets but measure their performance once those assets are in the marketplace.
“This isn’t just about the wrong ad running,” says Harold S. Geller, chief growth officer at Ad-ID (and source of the Donut_15 story). “I look at operations, administration, measurement and residual management — these are all areas that are becoming more complex.” Indeed, supply chain inefficiencies like poor identification cost the ad industry somewhere between $1 billion and $3 billion a year, according to the ANA.
As they grow tired of those costs, more and more advertisers are getting on board with Ad-ID — more than 800 agencies and brands now use the system. But adoption is still relatively low. Only 41 percent of television commercials, 12 percent of radio ads and a negligible number of digital ads are currently affixed with Ad-ID codes.
What’s stopping the rest of the industryfrom adopting the system? “The resistance is about change,” says Geller. “People look at what they do in a silo, and there’s a resistance to doing things that may be a benefit to others when you think that what’s going on in your own silo is just fine.” Many shops use their own systems for identifying ads and never see the problems those systems cause once the ads go out the door.
But Brad Epperson, VP of commercial operations at NBCUniversal, says that advertisers and agencies are ultimately costing themselves more money by refusing to switch. There’s a lot of non-value-added work in trying to suss through duplicates,” he says. But as long as companies further up the supply chain continue to use their own labeling conventions, media companies like his must continue to spend time and money to prevent different assets from being confused.
“We do a lot of work on our end to attempt not to have that happen,” he says, “but if there were a clear identifier like a unique Ad-ID from the get-go, we would not have to do so much diligence to verify the integrity of our commercial content.” Advertisers who do business with NBCU will soon find links to the Ad-ID site on its guidelines page, part of the network’s efforts to encourage advertisers to adopt it.
Of course, unlike in-house coding systems (most of which rely on some combination of old habits and improvisation), Ad-ID costs agencies money. The one-time start-up fee is $500. From there, there is a sliding scale of per-code fees that begin at $40 and progressively reduce to $5 per code. After an advertiser spends $15,000 on codes in a single year, all subsequent codes for that year are free.
There is also the headache of learning something new.
“Like all things new, the transition was bumpy at first,” says Ginny Sharp, director of broadcast operations at WMRKmedia, a broadcast trafficking agency based in New York. “Agencies were apprehensive about asking clients for fees on something that had never been billed before. But eventually, as everyone was educated on how the system would provide more than ISCI code assignments, the transition became much smoother.” Now, she says she couldn’t envision doing business without it.
With a little luck and persuasion, it is the ANA’s hope that the rest of the industry will soon feel the same. “Obviously we can’t legislate” the adoption of Ad-ID, says Fanelli. “But some of the largest advertisers and agencies in the country are now realizing this is where we need the industry to move.”