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Automated Content Recognition (ACR) Part 2: How Will It Affect Local TV Addressable Advertising Capabilities?

June 28th, 2018   ||    by John R. Osborn

This is the second of a two-part series on automated content recognition.

Automated content recognition (ACR) is the latest buzzworthy phrase to be added to the media industry’s dictionary, and with good reason, as this new tech has some game-changing potential.

So what is ACR, you might ask? We dove into explaining just that, and what it means from a local TV perspective, in the first article of our two-part series. This second part explores how ACR measurement, when married with ATSC 3.0, opens up breakthrough opportunities for addressable TV buying and sales.


In local TV buying, targeting has been contextual rather than addressable due to the limitations of nonconnectable distribution channels: broadcast, cable, and satellite. Programs and dayparts have always served as a reliable surrogate: knowing what kind of audience watches a program stands in for knowing who is actually watching.

In a Forbes article on ACR data, Alan Wolk explains that ACR combined with internet connectivity is the only “glass-level measurement on what people are watching,” breaking down when, where and how a viewer is actually seeing an ad.

It works with smart TVs which, with ATSC 3.0, is what gives local broadcasters and their advertisers two-way internet connectivity and in-depth viewing behavior for the first time. This offers true digital precision. According to Wolk, “it’s estimated that by 2020, about 75 percent of all TVs in use in the U.S. will be smart TVs.”

Now with the combination of ATSC 3.0 protocol released this year and ACR technology’s ability to capture what’s on a TV screen on a second-by-second basis, barriers around measurement, addressability, and two-way interactivity are no longer insurmountable.


Because a key measurement of what ACR captures is the IP address provided by the viewer, the doors to true TV addressability now begin to open.

Another important technology is needed for addressable targeting through local TV: Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI). According to CIMM, DAI is “the ability of advertisers to upload and insert targeted ads into video content quickly and frequently. Previously ads were inserted in advance and could not be changed once inserted into the program. Now with the advanced technology, ads can be swapped out immediately.” Different ads can now run on different screens for different viewers simultaneously.

In May 2018, Nielsen and CBS announced a new initiative to employ ACR and DAI to overlay specific ads for specific homes based on viewing behavior, rather than demographics.


Online and digital ad performance has been trackable through IP addresses and cookies, and now TV advertisers can measure audience delivery. They can then use that data with other past measures to make future marketing decisions around the viewer’s purchase funnel behaviors. Attribution analysis compares the effectiveness of all the prospective consumer’s touch points—from ad view to online research to contacting a retailer and more—against marketer-specific KPIs.


Given GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and Facebook data administration issues, viewer privacy and data transparency and protection will be areas of great care and concern as local TV proceeds, and a key part of implementing addressable TV advertising.

Still, the Race Is On

It’s clear that those who automate, upgrade, and integrate these new ad tech tools wisely will be the ones to seize the potential and profitability of addressability, leveraging the trust that local TV has developed with audiences over time.

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