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SAG-AFTRA Identifier Backed by Key Ad Management Company (EXCLUSIVE)

Ratification ballots sent out May 1

A key ad management company has come on board using the standard digital identifier — dubbed Ad-ID — that’s been mandated for ads using SAG-AFTRA members as of March 31, 2014.

Digital Generation announced Friday that it plans to adopt Ad-ID for commercials within its core operations. DG noted that it handles the “vast majority” of video advertising production, transcoding and distribution for U.S. advertisers and agencies.

The move comes two days after the performers union mailed ballots to its 160,000 members for ratification of a three-year successor deal to its commercials contract, which covers about $1 billion of member earnings annually. SAG-AFTRA’s board has endorsed the contract unanimously and ballots will be counted on May 31.

The provisions of the SAG-AFTRA agreement — hammered out over two months before the tentative agreement was reached on April 6 — require that Ad-ID is included in all commercials that feature SAG-AFTRA talent. The  implementation date has been set for March 31, 2014, in order to give the ad industry time to become accustomed to using the identifier.

George Musi, DG’s head of cross media analytics, told Variety that the use of Ad-ID “makes perfect sense” amid the proliferation of platforms on which ads are appearing.

“Actors need to be able to find where their ads are running,” he added. “Otherwise, they are going to be short-changed.”

The basic idea is to replace the multiple methods used to track performers compensation — which is based on how many times and where an ad airs — with a single system.

“Growing media fragmentation across many platforms makes interoperability across TV and digital media platforms essential,” Musi said. “We are well positioned to reduce multi-channel, multi-platform media complexity and enable our clients to more easily track video content and advertising as it migrates across a growing array of devices — whether on TVs, online, tablets, smartphones and video-on-demand systems.”

DG noted in the announcement that it had participated in the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement’s (CIMM) Trackable Asset Cross-Platform Identification (TAXI) initiative — which included involvement of 28 media and entertainment entities from media agencies, advertisers, measurement companies, media outlets, and other vendors.

Currently, about half of the ad industry uses Ad-ID or about 800 users. The mark which is similar to the Universal Product Code for packaged goods, to track when and where a commercial is broadcast.

Ad-ID was developed by the signatories to the SAG-AFTRA commercials contract: the American Association of Advertising Agencies and the Association of National Advertisers.

“One of the challenges we face is the incompatibility and inconsistency of data as it passes through different systems, hardware, software and networks, which are managed by different multichannel operators before reaching data processors,” said Harold Geller, Ad-ID’s chief growth officer. “Decisions made at each step impact data quality and comparability across data sets. Universal adoption of Ad-ID for all advertising assets will eliminate the guesswork in merging and comparing data from internal and a variety of external measurement sources.”

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