Labeling Content: Q&A With EIDR's Will Kreth

Will Kreth, executive director of the Entertainment Identifier Registry Association (EIDR), is in the epicenter of the content labeling storm. Being able to completely track a piece of content no matter where it airs and how it is consumed is the Holy Grail of programmers and advertisers. 

Charlene Weisler: EIDR has been advocating labeling for many years. What is moving it forward now? 

Will Kreth: Economics.  As the volume of content in distribution continues to increase around the world, the outdated systems of manual workflows, title matching, reconciliation and attribution of viewership / usage are unsustainable. There’s a quote from Clyde Smith, formerly senior vice president of new technology at Fox Networks: "If you can’t identify it, you can’t automate, operationalize or measure it; and if you can't measure it, you can't monetize it.”  

He said it about six years ago, and it’s still true. The pathway to sustainability begins with labeling all content in a unique, persistent and machine-readable format, which is what the alphanumeric EIDR ID provides.



Weisler: What is the current state of labeling?

Kreth: Today we see labeling happening in a variety of ways, often with proprietary methods that are designed for specific purposes.  Moving towards a single standard identifier, which can be embedded once and then used for any number of tracking and identification needs, provides a ubiquity and simplicity that has been missing in media and entertainment.

Whether it is a new TV series for 2019, a film production taking off in 2021, or a new indie short premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival this fall, we encourage everyone within the media and entertainment ecosystem to begin registering new titles with EIDR IDs as soon as the greenlight on the project is given. 

The bottom line is: The earlier the better. If EIDR IDs are attached to content from the beginning of the project, industry leaders, agencies and all parties involved will have a better understanding of what content is being referenced throughout its lifecycle.

Weisler: Do you see the industry coalescing around a standard? 

Kreth: Yes. And while it’s taken a few years, the dynamic power of open standards to drive supply-chain automation has incontrovertible precedents in packaged goods (with UPC/EAN codes) and in books (with ISBN). 

We are proud to be part of the TAXI Complete (Trackable Asset Cross-Platform Identification) initiative, which was recently published as a pair of open standards by SMPTE to embed asset tracking into both content and advertising using an audio watermark. This initiative, led by CIMM (Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement) was started in 2013 for the purpose of setting standards and identifying the most effective means of multi-channel asset tracking.

Weisler: How will standards in labeling impact media?

Kreth: The ability to embed standardized identifiers throughout the media ecosystem will have a significant impact on the efficiency of cross-media workflows for both media companies and marketers. Television networks and digital content publishers will be able to use these unique IDs to more effectively create and manage integrated multiscreen experiences. The standards will also replace the need for legacy title matching processes and ease numerous inefficiencies in the cross-platform video distribution and measurement workflow.

Weisler: Is there a difference in ad and programming labeling efforts? If so, what?

Kreth: The biggest difference is in the ID, and who maintains the registry of data, but the process is the same.  While EIDR is specific to content assets, such as films, television shows, shorts and online video content, Ad-ID is used to track video advertising assets. 

Utilizing both Ad-ID and EIDR IDs enables near real-time reporting for ad verification, and audience measurement allowing marketers to better optimize live and on-demand advertising similar to how digital advertising is today.

Weisler: Where do you see this effort three years from today?

Kreth: From an automation perspective, by the year 2020, we expect to see several of the world’s top media companies requiring EIDR IDs from all their business partners. The universal implementation of open standards within the industry will not only unleash innovation — but, according to a study by Ernst & Young in 2013, it will save the media and entertainment industry millions of dollars annually, and provide new opportunities for revenue generation.

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