IDing TV Assets: Q&A With Chris Lennon

Chris Lennon, CEO of MediAnswers, is deeply involved in CIMM’s Cross-Platform Asset Identification initiative, which seeks to create industry standard asset identification for both program and commercial content. In my interview with her, Lennon explains the purpose of the initiative, the process by which asset identification can be rolled out, how asset IDs migrate across platforms for a specific piece of content, timelines and next steps. He also offers some compelling insights into where he thinks the industry is headed over the next few years.  There are four videos in this interview, which can be viewed at

Below is an excerpt from the interview:

CW: How can you scale for an industry standard asset ID? How do you get everyone to agree?

CL: That is always the challenge – it is always hard to get everyone to agree. I think the first step is to roll out a solution and say, “This is the standard” because that at least gives everyone something to point to. We don’t have that today. The industry does not have a single unified way of doing this. So we see this as the first step. It will enable people to see the advantages of doing this and then they will hopefully volunteer and adopt.

This is not something that will be government-mandated or mandated by the industry in general. It is something that people should see the advantages of doing.

Pretty much every other business out there has faced this problem and addressed this problem: identifying the things that they are selling. But our business is a little more complex. We cannot, for example, just stamp a UPC code on our commercials like a lot people in hard goods can, or put an RFID on a commercial.  So we have challenges that a lot of other industries don’t have...

It has become clear by the quality and quantity of people who have dedicated time to this that this is a real problem and there is a real motivation to solve for this. I am encouraged by that and by the fact that we have the buy-in of the major media companies in this. I think we have a good shot at widespread adoption if we come up with a workable and a reasonably priced solution to fix this problem.

CW: What about competing asset identification systems currently available out there, like Nielsen's or Google's?

CL: We don’t necessarily see the CIMM initiative as directly competing with them. One of the requirements that we identified early on is that whatever we do, we cannot interfere with existing practices that are in place right now. We don’t want to do something that will trounce all over the Nielsen watermark, because that use is very critical to peoples’ operations right now. So whatever we do, we see it as being complementary to whatever is in there already. It is a requirement -- we can’t step on what is already there.

Also, although [the CIMM initiative] can be used as a measurement tool, it goes far beyond that. There are other things that identifying the content will enable for broadcasters. So that is just really a part of it, but perhaps the most visible use case that we’ve got.

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