NBCUniversal is partnering with Ad-ID – a standard identifier for creative assets built for the advertising industry – to improve campaign measurement capabilities and reduce ad repetition across the network’s automated One Platform.
Ad-ID was founded by the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s) and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) back in 2002 as a unique identifier for specific ad creatives.
As advertisers increasingly lean into streaming, the challenges around frequency capping and cross-platform measurement are cumbersome because the space is so fragmented. Without a standard naming convention, measuring the effectiveness of a campaign becomes a challenge, according to Brad Epperson, SVP of sales operations and business automation at NBCU.
Television marketers typically tag their creative with identifiers or codes to let networks and publishers know which specific ads to serve when and where, using naming conventions. In linear, many advertisers continue to use antiquated processes to deliver identifiers, while in digital, ad servers send the creative ID info to video players via a video ad serving template (VAST).
But the lack of an industry-adopted naming convention for VAST tags can lead to poor experiences for viewers, such as ad repetition. For example, advertisers may send the same commercial to NBCU multiple times, or the ads may not even have creative names associated with them, causing confusion and the need for manual intervention.
“We put [ads] through the process of quality control, validation and standardization, and making sure that it passes legal compliance,” Epperson said. “And then we have to do it again because it doesn’t have a naming convention or has a made-up naming convention. It just creates a ton of churn, not just for us but also on the agency side when we go back to the agency for clarity and confirmation after having done all this work already.”
Ad-ID is a solution in plain sight. It uses a 12-character code with metadata to uniquely identify an ad. The IDs are accessed in a central hub, allowing the entire media industry to validate ads across linear and digital. More than 3,000 advertisers and 700 agencies in the US have adopted the tool.
“Without something as simple as a unified creative identifier like Ad-ID, it’s impossible for systems to completely safeguard against the ad running side by side, nor is there an easy way to track measurement,” Epperson said.
Having a centralized library to access Ad-ID’s metadata improves frequency capping and post-campaign measurement capabilities. The identifier also makes it possible to do competitive separation, ensuring that competing brands don’t show ads next to each other.
NBCUniversal was the first media company to partner with Ad-ID when it launched its ad-supported streaming service Peacock last year. The company is now expanding its partnership across One Platform, its unified ad platform that lets advertisers buy, measure and optimize their campaigns across NBCU’s linear and digital assets.
The expanded use of Ad-ID will kick off with the Tokyo Olympics. Every commercial running on NBCU during the Olympics will be Ad-ID enabled across linear, digital and Peacock.
“We can ensure quality Olympic sponsorship exclusivity,” Epperson said. “In order to ensure that exclusivity, we have to make sure that we’ve got Ad-ID naming conventions across every commercial to make that a lot cleaner and easier.”
Advertisers have been clamoring for a solution to competitive separation, he said.
“Our advertisers keep saying to us – and across the industry – that digital advertising needs to do better about ensuring exclusivity in breaks,” Epperson said. Using the metadata that’s attached to the Ad-ID, NBCU can pass that information to the ad server and instruct it not to air, say, another consumer packaged good ad, he said.
Ad-ID’s use comes as digital is becoming a more crucial part of the upfront process. NBCU recently clinched $500 million in deals for Peacock. It also reported $1.5 billion in digital upfront commitments, a 67% increase from last year, mostly driven by its unified ad tech, One Platform. The Ad-ID will also extend across NBCU’s digital, linear and cable programming.
NBCU is working with its advertisers to register their codes with Ad-ID. Having a standard ID across linear and digital creates a plug-and-play service for marketers in One Platform. Then, NBCU can tap into the Ad-ID organization’s library of metadata to inform how to place and schedule ads, all of which creates a better viewing experience.
The effort ties into NBCU’s larger strategy around first-party data, such as the launch of its Audience Insights Hub beginning in the fourth quarter of 2021, a proprietary data clean room so marketers can bring their own data to One Platform and find audiences across NBCU’s channels and properties.
The company is also developing a unified data platform called NBCU ID that combines first-party audiences from its entertainment brands, OTT, mobile and desktop, Peacock and even Universal Parks & Resorts. The goal is to create a complete profile of consumers under a single, deterministic ID.