asiCast 58 – The future of codes, tags and watermarking

Until now, content recognition for video has mostly been based upon audio matching, audio encoding and return path data (RPD) for broadcast TV. For online content, the reliance has been on tagging. What are the strengths and weaknesses of these approaches and what are the challenges they face in the immediate future? In this asiCast Richard Marks, our Research Director, looks for some answers from David Whittaker, Principal Consultant at Digital Solutions, who acts as a consultant to BARB in the UK.

In recent years there just seems to be general acceptance that audio is the default for Peoplemeters attached to TV sets. Service information (SI) codes can be used if a platform is co-operative – like Sky in the UK – but audio-matching is by far the most common approach globally. Will audio remain the baseline for Peoplemeters or are there better alternatives around? Whatever happened to picture matching and is it likely to make a comeback?

For television audience measurement (TAM) services seeking to measure online video, tagging would seem to be the default option. Yet this can only work if the content owner wants to be measured and Netflix, for example, carries no advertising and has little interest in revealing to the wider market how well its content is performing. Maybe there are alternatives the industry could explore. Wouldn’t it be possible to simply read the metadata instead?

A further problem with tagging can be that each measurement company has its own tag and there is understandable reluctance to having multiple tags embedded in a player. Is there really any chance of a single tag being developed that everyone can read or is the barrier to this being developed commercial rather than technical?

The interview closes with David offering up his views on the futureproof viability of a number of tools that might be offered up to service a new TAM contract to cover the next 10 years. As an industry body facing the current measurement challenges, how much faith should be placed in Peoplemeters, Router meters, audio matching, audio encoding and in-player tagging?

David Whittaker will be speaking at the 2017 asi International Television & Video Conference on 8th-10th November in Nice, France.

To listen to the interview, just press play below or click here.

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