Future of TV Briefing: Why a creative ID system could save the streaming ad market ‘millions of dollars’

This Future of TV Briefing covers the latest in streaming and TV for Digiday+ members and is distributed over email every Wednesday at 10 a.m. ET. More from the series →

This week’s Future of TV Briefing looks at why IAB Tech Lab’s upcoming Creative ID framework could be among the bigger developments in the streaming ad market this year.

  • Streaming’s other ID spine
  • AI-generated product placements, Nielsen v. VideoAmp, TikTok v. Universal Music Group and more

Streaming’s other ID spine

A Rosetta Stone for streaming ad assets may be among the most important — and definitely among the most unheralded — developments in the streaming ad market this year. Sound like an overstatement? Well, read on.

The absence of a universal standard for labeling TV and streaming ad creative assets has contributed to the streaming ad industry’s frequency management problem and measurement challenges. “If you put economic terms on all of this lost value, we think it would measure in the millions and millions of dollars,” said Ryan McConville, evp of ad platforms and operations at NBCUniversal.

So yeah, it’s pretty important that, in the third quarter of this year, IAB Tech Lab plans to introduce a Creative ID framework that companies will be able to use to tag specific ads with unique identifiers. This system will make it easier for ad buyers, sellers and ad tech intermediaries to monitor and manage exactly which ads are running where and when. 

The Creative ID framework is far from a new idea, but its aim is to apply an existing practice to a new arena: streaming. To that end, the Creative ID framework will effectively build on traditional TV’s existing ID standards, such as by being interoperable with Ad-ID. “Think of this as a meta-registry,” IAB Tech Lab CEO Anthony Katsur said in a session during the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Annual Leadership Meeting last week. 

Okay, but why is a meta-registry necessary? Well, because right now there is no standard labeling system for streaming ads. And such a labeling system would lay the foundation for cross-platform and cross-publisher measurement and frequency management, in addition to simply creating a lingua franca so that, when there’s an issue with a particular piece of creative, companies aren’t having to figure out what everyone else in the streaming ad supply chain calls that particular creative.

In short, a Creative ID framework would institute in streaming what has been established in traditional TV and help the growing streaming ad market deal with potential growing pains.

“As a larger and larger number of campaigns are run across multiple platforms and as programmatic becomes a bigger and bigger piece of [connected TV], the problem could get worse because there are so many different ways in which you can activate a single campaign,” said Louqman Parampath, head of product management at Roku and a member of IAB’s video board of directors.

There are creative ID standards in traditional TV — Ad-ID in the U.S. and Clearcast in the U.K., for example — and traditional TV advertisers can apply those IDs to their streaming campaigns. But there are plenty of streaming advertisers who don’t buy traditional TV and therefore may have their own creative labeling system. Further complicating matters, other companies in the streaming ad supply chain may similarly have their own creative labeling systems that can turn “AD12345” into “BRANDXAD12345DSPXYZSSP789.”

“The metadata associated with those creatives is all different because companies store simple things like the names of their advertisers in different ways. We might, in our logs, call Procter & Gamble ‘P&G,’ and another streaming company might call it ‘Procter and Gamble,’ all written out,” said McConville, a member of IAB Tech Lab’s board of directors.

This translation tangle isn’t the only reason a standardized creative identifier is needed. The Creative ID framework would also help to provide a record that companies could reference in order to verify an ad’s authenticity, which will likely be an increasingly urgent need as generative AI tools make it easier for bad actors to create videos and try to dupe TV networks and streaming services into running them. 

“The idea behind the initiative is to improve the way that we’re seeing and verifying that common identifier across all of the different places that creative might appear. And when you think of advanced TV and traditional television, where you might have the same creative showing up in similar ways but through different paths, that becomes really important,” said David Dworin, chief product officer at Comcast-owned ad tech firm FreeWheel and member of IAB Tech Lab’s Advanced TV working group.

And then there’s the big benefit of having a universal creative ID system: cross-platform and cross-publisher measurement, which corresponds with cross-platform and cross-publisher frequency management.

“As soon as you try to measure the effectiveness or even the reach or the frequency of a campaign across multiple streaming platforms, when you land all that data with a measurement company, none of the creative IDs are there. So they can’t necessarily match the creative that ran on a Peacock with the creative that ran on another streaming platform without a lot of intensive labor,” said McConville.

That’s not to say that adopting IAB Tech Lab’s Creative ID framework won’t take work. In fact, for it to work, companies all across the streaming ad supply chain — advertisers, creative agencies, media agencies, demand-side platforms, supply-side platforms, ad servers, connected TV platforms and streaming services — will need to support it. 

“Getting good adoption from the agency ad servers, the DSPs and the agencies themselves is going to be really critical. They’re just such important players, and ultimately they’re the start of the chain where the ad ID is known,” said Dworin.

The creative and media agencies will be the ones responsible for generating the creative ID. The DSP will need to check that the creative ID has been appended before passing along a streaming ad buy. And then, because the creative ID will be wrapped inside the video ad serving template (VAST) file, the DSP, SSP and ad server will each need to unwrap the VAST file in order to store the creative ID in their respective logs for future reference before wrapping it back up and passing it along. That way, if the ad makes it to a streaming service and the streamer sees the ad isn’t the right size to run on a CTV screen, it can cite the specific creative ID and everyone else back up the supply chain can cross-reference that ID with the one in their logs.

“So that’s the work: Where in the VAST you actually keep it, how do you unwrap it, how do you take it out and effectively manage it,” said Parampath.

What we’ve heard

“The tough thing with clients I’m dealing with is the content demands that I’m demanding of them for what they need for TikTok, Meta, YouTube. When you’re doing YouTube, you need 15-, 30- and 6-[second-long ads], and now YouTube Shorts.”

Agency executive

Numbers to know

>8 million: Number of subscribers that YouTube’s pay-TV service has.

-248,000: Number of pay-TV subscribers that Charter lost in the fourth quarter of 2023.

$14.3 billion: How much money Allen Media Group owner Byron Allen has offered to acquire Paramount Global.

350: Number of channels on the U.S. version of Samsung’s free, ad-supported streaming TV service Samsung TV Plus.

$9.2 billion: How much ad revenue YouTube generated in Q4 2023.

What we’ve covered

Here’s what a $7M, 30-second Super Bowl ad can purchase in digital media in 2024:

  • Digiday crunched the numbers on what a Super Bowl budget could fetch in TikTok clicks and streaming ad impressions.
  • $7 million could buy an advertiser at least 233 sponsored posts from a famous TikTok creator.

Read more about Super Bowl ad alternatives here.

Danone ‘successfully hacked the Super Bowl’ with Oikos so it’s expanding the strategy to its other brands:

  • The marketer uses digital, in-store display and sweepstakes to advertise around the Super Bowl instead of within the broadcast.
  • Danone has implemented this strategy for its Oikos brand for the last five years.

Read more about Danone’s Super Bowl strategy here.

What we’re reading

AI = Artificially Inserted:

TikTok and YouTube creators are using AI tools to generate virtual product placements in their videos, according to The New York Times.

Nielsen v. VideoAmp:

Nielsen is suing VideoAmp for infringing on two of the measurement provider’s patents, according to Ad Age. This helps to explain why last week’s conference panel featuring the rivals’ respective chiefs was so contentious.

TikTok v. Universal Music Group:

The short-form video platform has lost access to the record label’s music library, a standoff that comes down to money but also the use of artificial intelligence, according to Bloomberg.

Charter’s fall to the top:

Charter has seized the title of largest pay-TV provider in the U.S. by virtue of its subscriber base not shrinking by as much as its rivals, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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