SMPTE Publishes Audio Watermark Standard to Bolster Ad Attribution on TV, Set Tops and Mobile (The DRUM)

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SMPTE and CIMM approve an audio watermark-identifier method for content and advertising on TV. / Pawel Kadysz via Unsplash

The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) has published a new standard, which uses audio watermarking technology created by Kantar Media to bind Ad-IDs to commercials and EIDR codes to pieces of programming content.

The announcement came four years after the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement (CIMM) launched a joint initiative to create an identification standard and months after a call by marketers on brand, agency, and media sides to find ways for streamlining content identification and measurement at February’s CIMM conference in New York.

The tech, an open-source solution created by Kantar Media called Taxi (Trackable asset cross-platform identification) Complete, has been created to support the real-time identification of content or advertising (via TV, set-top devices or metering devices or smartphone apps).

By utilizing this audio watermark, the trade bodies hoped to help mitigate what have been numerous inefficiencies in efforts for cross-platform attribution —including time-matching issues for airing across timezones, for streaming content, and for syndication. The watermarks are bound to all forms of content or advertising to be read and identified by any network, and have been made open source so that any publisher of content or media network can license the tech for their individual purposes.

The measurement end of cross-platform efforts have been aided in parts to distributor-end solutions like Open AP and channel-specific solutions such as NBC’s CFlight. This attribution solution may further simplify the infrastructure being laid out by the major media networks through mergers and the launch of multi-channel pipelines.

Listed as ways this new solution could optimize and enhance the industry’s current experience: reduced barriers to launching more cross-platform advertising; improvement of second-screen viewing and multiscreen content discovery, enhanced automated content recognition and detection, accelerated digital content locker adoption and complete long-tail content monetization, and an enhanced ability to trigger surveys, quizzes, or coupons on mobile devices.

A statement from Kantar Media claimed: “The ability to embed standardized identifiers throughout the media ecosystem will have a significant impact on the efficiency of cross-media workflows for ad agencies, media companies, and marketers. Television networks and digital content publishers will also be better equipped to create integrated multiscreen experiences.”

Jane Clarke, the chief executive and managing director at CIMM likened it to the media’s equivalent of a universal product code (UPC), adding: “Similar to the standardized ID that improved accuracy and efficiency for the retail consumer packaged-goods industry, Ad-ID and EIDR will enable advertising and content identifiers to remain embedded throughout the media distribution ecosystem.”

Kantar Media’s audio watermarking technology was recommended as the standard by a SMPTE Standards Drafting Group, supported by Ad-ID, a joint venture of the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As); EIDR, and CIMM.


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