Imagine a world where every store has its own unique bar coding system to track inventory. Now imagine manufacturers and distributors trying to keep track of how their products are faring in every store.
Advertisers and media specialists face this issue too when they try to keep track of advertising assets across media and through time, especially since an advertiser is not going to use one agency through time or even at the same time. That’s where a universal ad coding system—similar to the bar code—steps in. The advertising digital identification (Ad-ID) was developed for the US market by trade associations.
It is an Internet-based digital system that generates a unique identifying code for each ad across TV, radio, print, Internet, says Jay Kulkarni, co-founder and chief executive of global media operations company Theorem Inc., which is collaborating with Ad-ID developers to promote online ad measuring standards.
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Each Ad-ID stores critical information related to every ad. A click on an Ad-ID code reveals the name of the brand, the time when it was developed or run, the media platform and how many people viewed the ad, among other things.
Ad-ID will also be launched in India as part of its global roll-out, though there is no definite time frame. Currently, there is no standard coding system in the country and there are different naming systems for print, TV, radio and online ads. At a time when accountability of ad spending is on the front burner, media specialists say that a standard naming system would help them plan, buy and track ads more efficiently. It would also help them identify an ad and collect information on them.
Prashant Mehta, chief operating officer of Mumbai-based digital ad firm Komli Media Pvt. Ltd, says a digital ad labelling system consistent across media and geographies permits easier creation and management of ad inventory by media buyers, sellers and advertisers. Since it files information in digital form, there is no need to manually enter data at different stages of the ad coding process. This improves productivity and cuts costs for media buyers and publishers, he adds.
What’s interesting is that Ad-ID has open Web services for easy interchange of data related to each ad among advertisers, agencies and publishers using the system to help them improve current ad-related processes. Additional information can continually be entered in categories such as advertisement, agency, production, traffic, talent and legal.
“An extensible metadata (information about other information) platform from Adobe would allow an agency or advertiser to incorporate much more information about the ad within the ad itself, such as company name, ad medium, language, etc.,” says Mehta.
Online publishers can add measurement fields such as clicks and click-through rates, engagement parameters or the length of time spent on each ad unit, which is currently not available. Armed with such data, the publisher can peg or sell ad rates to advertisers more scientifically, says Mehta. Publishers can also track ads with video add-ons.
Overall, a standard code would help advertisers get better bang for the buck by helping media specialists deliver sharper media plans. Those analysing ad data are usually not media planners, but data teams in ad agencies or online media operations companies such as Theorem, says Kulkarni. “The standard coding system leads to less errors in the coding of ads, which leads to less errors in analysing data,” he says.
After data related to an ad is analysed, it is sent to media planners who use it to make purchasing decisions. Typically, media planners use data of earlier or ongoing ad campaigns to decide where to place ads, explains Kulkarni. “They would obviously place ads in the medium or title or site which got them the most relevant eyeballs and response.” And since the code packs in so much information about each ad, the performance or return of investment on each ad would probably be better compared across media and media titles.
Kulkarni explains that if an agency (media planner) is running a display advertising campaign for the advertiser, the agency will ask its data team to send data on how its ads are performing. This data can come in the form of click-through rates. When the agency sees that the ad is performing well on a certain site—click-through rates are high—the agency will make the decision to keep running ads on this site. When the agency gets data that shows poor click-through rates for a site, it makes the decision to take ads down from those sites.
A universal naming convention code would eventually help someone create a “universal advertising exchange”, says Mehta. Such third-party exchanges would stock ad inventory available from media owners across TV, print, online, among others.
Ad buyers and advertisers would have access to different ad inventories through a universal ad code—this would streamline the buying process.
Marion Arathoon is Mint’s advertising editor. Your comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org