Privacy and TV ACR

What is TV ACR and why is privacy an issue?

Until recently, TV wasn’t as measurable a medium as advertisers and broadcasters would like. Quantifying the effect of TV campaigns on subsequent viewer behaviour was never easy, and extremely reliant on limited panels for feedback. Now, however, things have changed. With automated content-recognition (ACR) technology being built into more and more Smart TVs, said TVs recognizing what they are showing and an ever-expanding amount of viewing data being produced, it’s easier than ever before to understand viewership and quantify the effects that brands’ advertising has on their customers. But as is always the case where new avenues of data collection begin to open, making sure viewers’ privacy and rights are fully respected remains absolutely paramount.

FTC compliance

The Federal Trade Commission hasn’t been resting on its laurels either, and has taken the initiative on protecting users’ data and their right to opt in or out of its use. In February 2017, the FTC issued a new set of compliance standards that collectors of TV ACR data must adhere to. In essence, the new criteria ensure that all vendors engaged in data-collection must make it plainly known to TV viewers, as well as offer them an explicit option to opt out of having their data collected and used for advertising or audience targeting. Brands must remain totally aware of whether the vendors they work with are in compliance with such standards. If they aren’t, there exists the possibility that the FTC could require manufacturers engaged in data collection to cease doing so. If non-compliance goes public, very much a risk, the brand themselves may be left with extremely troublesome and expensive PR damage to deal with.

Listening apps

The standards mean compliant, leading TV OEMs, like Vizio and their subsidiary Inscape for example, can busy themselves collecting data from viewers who have opted into allowing their behaviour to be measured this way. However, there are still other providers of differing types of TV ACR data that may yet fall under the eye of the FTC. Vendors who collect data via audio-based identification of TV content could be an example. Rather than working with TVs that recognize themselves what they are showing, these vendors use apps to listen in to try to identify what a TV in near-proximity is showing. Apart from often requiring the app to be in use while the TV is showing specific content (meaning perfect timing is required for this approach to be of any use), this type of data collection has increasingly come under focus for what has been deemed an almost surreptitious way to collect data on TV viewers. If pressure and bad publicity follows, the FTC may act to curtail this approach.

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TVadSync unveils Smart Tune-In Attribution – helping drive show and movie tune-ins

We’re delighted to have announced the launch of Smart Tune-In Attribution – giving TVadSync a superior way to drive more show and movie views for entertainment marketers via high performing cross-platform campaigns. Read more here.

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TV ACR – digital’s missing piece

Digital ads under the spotlight

Last year Marc Pritchard, Procter & Gamble’s chief brand officer and marketer, made a startling demand – that the advertising industry clean up the digital media ecosystem or face losing millions of dollars in revenue from brands like P&G. Problems inherent in digital advertising, such as difficulties with ad fraud and brand safety, had elicited this castigation and Pritchard challenged the industry to drastically step up its game and prove the value and safety of digital. Since that inflection point, hard work has been done to move forward on the issues highlighted. However, while security of brand placement and media validity have been focused on, digital still suffers from a lack of receptivity from consumers as indicated by the prevalence of ad-blocking. One might argue that the problem resides in the fact that, with digital, advertisers just go where the consumers are, but not in a way that ensures impact is greatest. People don’t want to stand to have their surfing interrupted by ads. Pritchard himself highlighted this problem at DMexco last year: “Bottom line, it is time for marketers and tech companies to solve the problem of annoying ads and make the ad experience better for consumers”. Digital display media can often be a jarring addition to content someone is trying to view without distraction. Simply put, the person is not primed to be receptive. In addition, digital media can also lack context in terms of attribution. Ascertaining its influence compared to TV, for example, can be difficult when there’s a disconnect in measurability between the two in terms of a consumer’s path-to-purchase. This can only hinder advertisers’ efforts to make sure they are targeting the right people, with the right message, at the right time and place.

TV ACR: solving for receptivity

So how do brands solve the issues surrounding receptivity? This is where automated content recognition (ACR) technology in TVs is having a huge effect. TV ACR tech, built into millions of Smart TVs across the US, allows brands to understand what content people are actually watching (e.g. whether an ad was seen or not). This, along with being able to anonymously profile device ownership means advertisers can integrate their cross-platform campaigns in an extremely potent way. Viewers of certain TV content can be primed through the emotive power of that medium and then be retargeted online while in a much more receptive state of mind. A study conducted by the Advertising Research Foundation found that the combination of TV+Digital proved strongest in terms of generating ROI for brands, largely due to this ‘priming’ effect.

To boot, being able to link the two platforms means brands can more deterministically explore how both influence subsequent consumer behaviour. Advertisers can jettison old methods of measurement (such as panels) where purchase attribution is concerned, for instance, and instead turn to behavioural models based on a combination of Smart TV, mobile and purchase analytics. In short, they can see for themselves how consumers behave, not simply how they say they do. Accuracy and scale of measurement improves greatly as a result.

To sum up, digital has been asked some serious questions in the recent past and the industry continues to battle to make the kind of progress required by people like Marc Pritchard. However, there are real innovations occurring which are providing a tailwind – not least of all TV ACR technology, which is proving to be an extremely valuable piece of the digital puzzle.

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