To some, asset identification is an arcane part of content tracking -- but as these panelists emphasized, ignore it at your peril. Finkel-Greene likens asset identification to plumbing in a house: “Before you can paint the walls and add furniture, you need the plumbing to make the house habitable.”
The benefits of asset identification are numerous, including, as Clarke explains, “helping companies determine the impact of each separate creative/media, measuring synergistic impact of cross-media combinations and effect of entire campaigns, and identifying best practices and innovating new methods for ROI and ROMO analysis such as dynamic ad insertion.”
According to Geller, “Asset identification is two things, a unique identifier and standardized ‘domain specific’ descriptive information (metadata). In order for an identifier to be unique, it must be assigned by a central authority, also known as a registration authority, [which] in the case of our industry would be Ad-ID for Ads, and EIDR for long-form content. These sorts of central authorities exist in other domains, such as UPC that identifies trade items like packaged goods, and ISBN that identifies books.” In the case of EIDR, there is one more component to asset identification: an enterprise-level Web service that allows EIDRs to be looked up in real time as part of an advertising work flow.
There are many forms of asset identification, including watermarking and fingerprinting. Many embedded codes are proprietary to a particular company. Clarke advocates standardization: “Both the buy and sell sides need to embrace open-standard asset registries within their content and advertising supply-chains. This has already been determined to be feasible, now it needs to be adopted.
“For our part, the next phase of the TAXI initiative is underway with CIMM and SMPTE [The Society for Motion Pictures and Television Engineers] having launched a study group to identify an open binding technology standard for persistent content identification in audio video essence. Achieving this will be a critical step for industry-wide adoption of a UPC for all professional video content and advertising.”
There are challenges to implementing a standardized form of asset identification. Finkel-Greene explains, “In general, asset identification is seen as a method to collect information about commercial placements after the ads have run. This is only half the issue for agencies. In addition to the ‘look back’ scenario, we also need a ‘look forward’ solution.
Often, as happens during the network upfronts, commercials are scheduled in programs BEFORE those programs have any standard names, much less codes.”
Some believe that it may not be as difficult as we anticipate; Although EIDRs are generally created before scheduling data is sent out for program guides, there’s a well-defined hierarchy for Series-Season- Episode, so episode number can be added and associated to a season/series at a later time. But for others, it is not automatic enough. “My job is not impacted by asset identification; it’s impacted by the lack of it” says Finkel-Greene, “The depth and diversity of new measurement methods and sources is rivaled only by the breadth and diversity of the naming conventions that come with it. Each new data stream requires human intervention for integration into existing reports, throwing a manual monkey wrench into the automated machinery.”
How intricate is the actual identification code? Geller says, “The standardized ‘domain specific’ descriptive information (metadata) for an ad is the alate, agency name, advertiser name, product name, brand name, Ad title, Ad size / Length , which today is a visual (analog) object at the start of an ad, and must become ‘digital’ information embedded in the file, thus a ‘digital slate.’”
So what are the next steps? “The adoption rate is slow because we’ve not made a compelling case for asset identification,” explains Finkel-Greene, “We need to clearly articulate the benefits of detection, not only for measurement and reporting, but the financial advantages associated with the monetization of assets and the modernization of the legacy process.”