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Prepareing for Cross Platform Measurement. Q&A with Harold Geller



Harold Geller, Chief Growth Officer, Ad-ID LLC actually studied to be a journalist. But he soon ventured into television production because of his affinity for backend operations. Little did he know at the time that this interest and aptitude would lead him into media buying and eventually into inventory management and ad identification. “I have always thought that we could do things better and more efficiently,” he explained.

Geller has been working closely with Jane Clarke, CEO and Managing Director of the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement (CIMM), to ingrain Ad-ID in the measurement ecosystem. Ad-ID has its roots in the ISCI code and may be the solution to today’s complex world of ad identification across platforms. I sat down with Geller who shared his views on the origins of Ad-ID, current ad identification, television today and the future growth of the ad identification ecosystem.  

Charlene Weisler: You started your career in production. Tell me about your move into the agency world.

Harold Geller: I went into advertising as a media buyer. Our agency (Foster Advertising in Toronto) had a big government contract where the client complained about the time it took to post. My idea in 1984 was to provide desk-based personal computers equipped with Lotus 1-2-3, and we were able to turn around the post buys much faster. At the time, that was pushing the edge of technology. Then I worked at O&M in Canada as the Director of Media Technology before moving to the U.S. in the same role at O&M in New York. I worked with Irwin Gottlieb when MindShare started up in a role we called “strategic technology” developing client extranets, document sharing portals and media planning tools.

Charlene Weisler: What is Ad-ID?

Harold Geller: In 1969 the ISCI code was conceived by a group of ad execs, including David Dole, then an account executive at Leo Burnett in Chicago, because of the need for unique IDs for ads. We had word processors and binders for the eight character ISCI code which made identification easy since most advertisers had only one agency of record in those days, but these codes were only supposed to last 10 to 15 years. Fast forward into the 2000s. There was a need to replace ISCI codes with a more scalable method. The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As) agreed to jointly fund the development of the Ad-ID system, to replace ISCI. 

Ad-ID is the advertising registration authority for measurement, for interoperability and to exchange information on ads. It is a centralized metadata repository for ads. In 2007 we had 300 advertisers registered. Today we have almost 3,000 and are poised to grow even more in the next 18-24 months. As Chief Growth officer of Ad-ID, I connect the dots where people didn’t know dots existed – bringing together the engineering, measurement and advertising communities, all of whom have a stake in the efficiency of advertising workflow.

Charlene Weisler: What is CEA – Complete External Access?

Harold Geller: CEA is the capability through which media outlets, online publishers and approved measurement companies can access Ad-ID codes and related metadata stored in the Ad-ID system. Historically ad metadata has needed to be re-keyed between 20 and 30 times in an ad’s journey through the supply chain. Mistakes in entering data can be made along the way, which makes the ads harder to track and measure. 

In addition, many competitive reporting programs from companies like Nielsen and Kantar ascribe ad information by having people view the ad and then assigning it to a manufacturer and product. All of that is guessing. For example, viewership of a Tide commercial could be for Extra Strength Tide, but that fact may not be noted by the person recording it. Now, with CEA, the metadata is exchanged accurately and efficiently so none of the ad’s identifying information slips through the cracks.

Charlene Weisler: So Ad-ID is a way to prepare to measure ads across platforms?

Harold Geller: Yes. We now have thousands of channels across multiple platforms. Advertisers want to be able to reach consumers wherever they are. If you have a unique code for the ad and the metadata for that ad, you can serve it into media that matches the ad’s content via its metadata. Ad-ID makes ad placement more efficient and automated. We are in a world of one-to-one communication with dynamic ad insertion and are moving toward less manual commercial placement decisions. Metadata enables us to make better and more advanced decisions. 

This process is seamless if all metadata is in the same place. The registration of ads through Ad-ID as the central authority establishes a source for standardized metadata and is the foundation of process improvement. This takes away the need for the ad’s identification information to be rekeyed as it travels through the advertising ecosystem because all of that information is in the metadata. This leads to measurement that is more granular and timelier, and enables measurement across multiple platforms– even if that platform is a screen on a refrigerator door.

Charlene Weisler: What is your definition of TV?

Harold Geller: The definition of TV is evolving as we speak. Content is consumed across many platforms not just via a television set. Each platform may present the same content, however there is nuance in the way each device is used to consume content. Video as a medium is what matters.

This article first appeared in www.Mediapost.com

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