Janice Chan: ACR Technology – Advertiser’s new best friend

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Janice Chan: ACR Technology – Advertiser’s new best friend

By Janice Chan, VP platform and client services APAC, Nexxen


There’s a lot of buzz surrounding Automatic content recognition (ACR) technology.

With its ability to decipher and analyse audio and visual content in real-time, ACR offers a comprehensive understanding of consumer preferences, habits and engagement patterns in a privacy-compliant way.

But is it really the solution to all of the AdTech landscape’s challenges in the APAC region?

Let’s take a look:

 Are you an advertiser that wants to:

  • • Stay relevant with your consumers?
  • • Cut through the noise with the rise of various streaming networks?
  • • Improve ad experience and drive better audience attention?
  • • Enrich your cookie-less strategies?

If so, ACR technology can help with all of that. It has the potential to enhance advertising strategies, improve targeting, unlock incremental user reach and, most importantly, deliver personalised and relevant ad experiences that actually resonate with your audiences in a privacy-compliant way.

ACR explained

ACR is an advanced technology on most smart devices that instantly identifies the content a consumer is listening to or watching. This type of data is inherently privacy-compliant for opted-in devices, making it especially valuable given the impending deprecation of third-party cookies.

As an example, Shazam uses ACR to recognise songs while smart TVs leverage ACR to recognise which networks, programs and commercials are being watched – as well as for how long the viewer is watching them. With ACR, advertisers have actionable insights for use in:

  • • Converged TV planning and investment allocation recommendation
  • • User exclusion to maximise incremental reach
  • • Ad re-targeting & re-messaging
  • • Converged TV measurement

How ACR works

ACR, with registered devices that have explicitly opted-in users in Smart TVs like Hisense, allows certain information to be collected and used to provide personalised advertising. The information collected is called “Viewership Data” and it can include:

  • • Information about the network and programming content playing on the device, such as TV channels, shows, movies and commercials watched
  • • Content from any media players, gaming consoles, over-the-air broadcast or other audiovisual sources playing through the smart TV
  • • Additional information like timestamps, IP addresses and smart TV identifiers

ACR technology recognises the content playing on smart devices, allowing automatic collection of content consumption data at the screen level, without requiring user input or search effort, provided users have opted-in beforehand. In essence, smart TV ACR data delivers privacy-safe targeting precision.

 This is how it works:

  1. 1. Collection: Smart TV ACR data is collected via a software development kit (SDK), which is deployed into the chipset of Smart TVs.
  2. 2. Opt-in: Upon SDK deployment, users are prompted to opt-in to ACR data collection, making it a privacy-compliant data source.
  3. 3. Capture: The SDK captures “fingerprints” of the content on the screen, using frame-by-frame screenshots of content and/or audio signals. These fingerprints are generated every few seconds.
  4. 4. Match: The fingerprints are then matched to a content and ad catalogue database to identify what was played through the TV.

Advertisers’ ultimate problem solver? 

Now that we know what ACR is and how it works, we can move into the fun part: the tricky challenges this data solves for advertisers.

Advertising hurdles overcome with ACR

  1. 1. Content Identification (understand your consumers’ viewing patterns): ACR technology scans and identifies content by comparing the audio or video fingerprints of the content being watched with a vast database of known content fingerprints. This process allows the system to recognise what channels and shows are being viewed, including the specific episode and time stamp.
  2. 2. Brand & Ad Exposure Identification (understand your current ad touchpoints with consumers): ACR enables the collection of viewership patterns by identifying what is being watched and when. This data encompasses details, such as which shows are being watched, when they are watched, how frequently they are watched, and critically, where brands and their TV advertisements are exposed to viewers.
  3. 3. Converged TV Reach and Incremental Reach Measurement: ACR data enables comprehensive measurement of TV viewership activity across both linear and digital TV screens. This facilitates the assessment of viewer overlap across these screen types and the efficiency of TV screens for brands. It also empowers optimisations in audience reach based on viewership behaviours, aiming for maximum efficiency and users reach, such as cross-screen frequency control.
  4. 4. Targeted Advertising: With the data collected, advertisers can tailor their ads to specific audiences based on their viewing habits. For example, if ACR data shows that a household frequently watches cooking shows, then advertisers might target that household with ads for kitchen gadgets or grocery stores.

ACR and advancing campaign performance

To sum it up, ACR data provides a viable solution for advertisers to better navigate this fragmented TV landscape. This not only enhances viewers satisfaction by reducing ad clutter, but also boosts ad effectiveness, driving higher engagement and conversion rates. Ultimately, ACR empowers advertisers to better understand consumers’ viewing behaviours, which can then:

  • • Inform more comprehensive TV planning
  • • Deliver more relevant ads with robust measurement
  • • Foster stronger brand-consumer relationships in the increasingly competitive media landscape.

ACR data empowers advertisers with actionable insights for TV planning, audience activation and enriched measurement capabilities that are essential for navigating the complex and fragmented media landscape. It enables them to drive more effective advertising strategies and maximise campaign performance. At this critical juncture, its relevance can’t be denied.