A Guide To All-Knowing Content Recognition Tech

So much is known about consumers that Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) doesn’t seem to be much of a spooky thing anymore. Yes, it is possible for a marketer to discover which households, anonymized, are watching which TV content and seeing what commercials on certain popular smart TVs, and also across Internet connected devices.

A marketer that knows all that, knows a lot more than they once did, when measurement was less capable.

Viant, a unit of Time Inc., says it has the inside track on connecting which viewers are connected to which other devices.  It’s just put on out an Introductory Guide To TV ACR that gives a pretty good overview of where the business of that kind of advanced measurement and tracking is going.  

According to one estimate, through the end of 2016, there were 42 million connected TVs in the marketplace and 37.8 million of them with content recognition capabilities--mostly Samsung, Vizio and LG sets. That universe of ACR capable sets stalled some as manufacturers readjusted their compliance standards.



Earlier this month, Vizio agreed to pay a $2.2 million payment to regulators including the FTC and to get affirmative consent from consumers to collect the kind of info its TV sets collect.

Viant collects data from 10 million homes, cross referencing what they’re seeing on their TV screens to its information on what other devices members of that household possess. The result, in theory and practice, allows Viant to track what those consumers see and what they purchase, and help marketers figure it out too.

“It’s deterministic solution. We take it down to the individual household level and tie it back to other consumption linked to other devices,” explains Jeff Collins, Viant’s chief revenue officer. It can do that because Viant already has consumer data about 250 million consumers and their 700 million devices like smartphones and tablets, so that what you see on TV and what you do on phones and other things can be matched up.

Competitors, he suggests, have access to ACR TV data from those smart TVs, but not the ability to link it to what’s known about users’ other devices with that kind of accuracy. 

As the guide says,  “For example, if you log in to Hulu on your household TV and then also log in on your phone, Hulu would link those devices back to you. This method provides accurate insight into who is actually in the viewing household, letting advertisers know, with certainty, that they are reaching their intended audience.”

That brings some fascinating results.

Collins says that Viant can help advertisers figure out which programs,  or kinds of programs, are better at driving awareness and which are better at driving sales. Generally, he said, entertainment drives the former, news programming drives the latter). But Viant can also measure and track how long (or briefly) certain consumers watch certain commercials and all of that helps the sales process.

Content recognition is where it’s all going--far more all-knowing than extrapolating data from a representative sample. Collins brags that Viant can now measure in detail which ads work better with what demos, and in what DMAs, with real sales data to back it up.

As the market tries to form a single currency, he observes, the industry has taken “the easiest currency--the GRP--and extended that to digital.”  Instead, ACR and Viant’s data from other devices measure “what is actually the ultimate goal of marketers--an action--that for years has been in the digital world the form of measurement, and extends that to television.”

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