AMWA debuts Digital Slate at NAB

Network and station revenues stem from advertising, so not unnaturally the airing of commercials is a focus of the management. A lost avail is a slot in time lost forever. Make-goods are an overhead to be avoided. Key to the process is to ensure that what the advertiser ordered gets to air.

The Advanced Media Workflow Association (AMWA) and Ad-ID have joined forces to develop an MXF specification that enables the explicit identification of advertisements. However, fixing the problems of the past is not the only issue. As broadcasters add more channels and delivery to multiple devices across multiple platforms, spots can exist in several formats including HD, SD, Flash and HTML5. The potential for misidentification of a commercial is only increasing.

The new MXF Commercial Delivery specification, AS-12, is a constrained version of MXF that has been developed to enable more efficient handling of commercials through the many transactional and media processing operations between conception and air.
MXF Commercial Delivery unambiguously identifies the spot through the Ad-ID unique identifier carried in a “digital slate.” Current practice to identify commercials is by the visual slate preceding the commercial. Although a human operator can read this by playing the commercial, it does not lend itself to use by automated systems.

The advertisement identification metadata is carried as an MXF Descriptive Metadata track, which serves as the digital slate. This can be used to reconcile the video and audio components of the commercial with the traffic instruction, thus avoiding expensive mistakes.
As broadcasters look to serve commercials to long-tail delivery platforms as well as their primary channels, controlling cost is all-important. Many versions may exist of the same commercial, adding confusion to the traffic operations. Versions may be sourced from different distribution routes, arriving with different wrappers and codecs, as well as different aspect ratios.

MXF Commercial Delivery, AS-12, is an addition to AS-03, MXF for Delivery. AS-03 defines MXF files optimized for program delivery and intended for direct playout via a video server. Used together, the specifications allow the agency to supply broadcasters with a master commercial, along with information like closed captions and AFD that the broadcaster can use to create the lower resolution versions appropriate to their long-tail delivery platforms.

"AS-12 provides the foundation for multi platform campaigns, and reduced cost, while enabling Interactivity, addressability, and improved cross platform measurement,” said Harold Geller Chief Growth Officer, of Ad-ID LLC, and a member of the AMWA board. “It solves the workarounds, short-term fixes, and stop-gap solutions in commercial workflow that has driven the Marketing supply chain for the past 30 years.”

The AS-12 metadata or digital slate can be created early in the production process to uniquely identify the commercial. AS-12 carries fields to identify the advertiser, the agency, brand and product, as well as the title. Through the use of the guaranteed unique Ad-ID, the re-keying of identifiers that typically happens today is avoided. House codes used by agencies or broadcasters are replaced with the Ad-ID, avoiding many of the issue of misidentified commercials that have been commonplace.

The Commercial Delivery specification is sponsored by AMWA principal member Ad-ID, a joint venture of the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A's) and Association of National Advertisers (ANA), and establishes a baseline for improved operations, administration, and measurement of advertising assets across the myriad of current and emerging delivery platforms. When fully deployed, proper use of the specification should result in substantial financial gains as well as improvements in productivity that will flow back to all participants within the supply chain.

The formal debut of this format will take place at NAB on Tuesday, April 17, at the AMWA booth at the International research park Booth # N617 at 11:45am, hosted by Bob Liodice President & CEO of the ANA.