Digitally Tracking Adverts with Ad ID

Ad ID is a 12 digit code to be attached to all advertising so that it can be tracked effectively. The system has been developed by the Association of National Advertisers and the American Association of Advertising Agencies, and has just been endorsed by the top four broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC) in the US, along with over 100 other large advertisers and trade groups.

Each piece of advertising will have a unique 12 digit ID and combined with RFID technology, will enable advertisers to track precisely how individual households have responded to advertising messages through their purchases. Is it just me, or is that really frightening? The introduction of Ad ID is being compared with the introduction of the UPC bar code 30 years ago – though coupling Ad ID with active technologies such as the internet and RFID chips make this a considerably more powerful tool.

Ad ID is not entirely new – it’s been in development since 2002. Tagging each advert with a unique identifier also allows metadata to be stored about the ad – such as geographic relevance and scheduling. The system is backed by a web portal so that advertisers can update campaign information and consult billing and scheduling details.


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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?