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Open-Standard Content Recognition for a More Organized Industry

June 20th, 2017   ||    by Charlene Weisler

Let’s talk about silos. In addition to data silos impeding accurate cross-platform measurement, there are also content recognition coding silos. Companies like Nielsen, comScore, and Google all have their own content ID protocols—or “walled gardens” of proprietary coding—and none of those protocols are compatible with the others.

This makes it almost impossible to effectively and accurately track a piece of content through its various platform exposures. So advertisers may know where their ads are running, but they still need to manually stitch together all the sources.

Why Do We Need Them?

Open standards—whether for data, content IDs, and even fee structures—”establish rules of engagement between marketplaces so demand and inventory are represented fairly,” notes Brad Smith, senior vice president of revenue and operations at Videa, in a piece for AdExchanger.

“A set of voluntary guidelines and best practices will drive consistency and repeatability in systems and processes,” says Smith, “It will also preserve and improve the art of selling broadcast linear television advertising and the use of first- and third-party data overlays to better understand audience value.”

Unless the industry can come together and agree on an open-standard content recognition protocol, the ability to accurately and easily identify content across platforms and devices—and in addressable and advanced advertising—will continue to be impeded.

The question then becomes: How can the measurement companies’ desires for proprietary systems and the industry’s need for open standards find a happy mean?

How Far Have We Come?

Efforts to create open standards across all media platforms have been initiated by organizations such as the Entertainment Identification Registry (EIDR), which offers an industry-standard identifier code for movie and television content, and Ad-ID, which offers an industry-standard identifier code for advertising.

Ad-ID’s asset coding system was created, endorsed, and is now managed by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As). This system is currently being utilized by Nielsen to power commercial ratings, competitive analysis, and commercial verification at national, syndication, and local levels, as well as across media platforms.

More than content IDs are required to complete the tracking process, however. The code for binding the identifiers (like Ad-ID and EIDR) to content so that it survives all the way to the viewer must also be open and standardized.

Chris Lennon, president and CEO at MediAnswers, has been working on an open binding of IDs (OBID) standard. “Once approved as a standard, anyone ‘skilled in the art’ should be able to take the standards documents and develop implementations,” says Lennon. He reports that Kantar Media’s technology has been selected for OBID and “the OBID Drafting Group is now hard at work, documenting both the OBID watermark (containing Ad-ID and EIDR) and the OBID-TLC watermark (containing time labels and content distribution identifiers) as open standards.”

How Much Remains?

So how long will it take the industry to establish an open standard? Some, like Don Dulchinos, executive director at EIDR, believe such a day is nearly at hand: “EIDR has proven that a standard content ID is attainable.” With a registry of over 1.1 million records supported by more than 80 member companies in the content production, distribution, or services businesses, the new standard is certainly advancing toward scale.

“The majority of U.S.-based content production today is registered with EIDR, including both film and television, and Europe is the fastest-growing membership territory. All this has happened in just over 5 years,” says Dulchinos.

Challenges do remain—Dulchinos believes that one is “the adoption of EIDR ID in the range of commercial use cases,” despite the fact that “EIDR is already in standard usage for title management, internal studio systems integration, and for the global online distribution platforms, such as Amazon, Netflix, and Google.”

But hope springs eternal. Jane Clarke, CEO and managing director at CIMM, has been guiding her organization—and the industry at large—to find solutions for open standards. “While we understand the desire for proprietary systems, and while we support competition as a key driver of new ideas, the reality is that when the industry cooperates and agrees to a common language for content identification, that is where new insights can be revealed and where innovation will really flourish,” says Clarke.

In the case of open standards for content recognition, cooperation will help advance the business by facilitating cross-platform media measurement and addressable advertising. The benefits to the industry as a whole outweigh siloed efforts to outdo the competition in content identification. So this is—above all—an opportunity for organizations to work together in order to move the business forward.

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