How ACR Smart Tech Can Target Higher Ed Ad Buys

By: Emma Rose Nov 30, 2021

How ACR Smart Tech Can Target Higher Ed Ad Buys

Your television is watching you. Well, actually, it’s watching what you watch. Using a technology called automated content recognition (ACR), smart TVs can track viewership habits. A few years ago, only the most high-end models of Smart TV had ACR built-in. But like most advances in tech, this one has gone mainstream. That means the Smart TV Ecosystem is not positioned to help target your education marketing campaign.

If you’re not already using this technology to its fullest, now is the time to start. With ACR, your ads can reach the right audience at the right time. Here’s what you need to know to enter the Smart TV ecosystem and target your advertising. 

What is ACR Technology and Why Should Marketers Care? 

If you don’t know much about Automatic Content Recognition, you’re not alone. It’s a newer technology that many people haven’t quite gotten a handle on. Those who know it exists might have been frightened by articles about how your Smart TV is spying on you. The truth is that while web browser activity is far more personal than TV viewing habits, the data is still useful for marketers. So, how does it actually work? 

In the simplest terms, the Smart TV keeps track of what the user is watching and sends that data back to manufacturers. The data includes what type of program is being watched, (OTT, DVR, linear, or on-demand), what shows and commercials are playing, and the viewer’s IP address. All of this put together can reveal, for example, that television in a household in St. Cloud Minnesota played the ad for your nursing associates degree program during an episode of the latest animated show for adults that had been recorded with DVR.

It can’t tell you who in the household was watching television, or even whether anyone was in the room when the ad played. Even so, it’s a powerful way to measure viewership, especially when combined with other forms of data collection. The most important difference between ACR and other kinds of data is that ACR gives a second-by-second account. That means you know if someone turned off the TV or changed the channel in the middle of your ad. 

The big players in this space are Samsung Ads, Alphonso, and the strategic partnership of Nielsen and Roku.

How to Use ACR Data for Education Marketing

ACR Data can support all stages of your ad buying process in education marketing. This data can help you decide where to serve an ad. You might try to target viewers who haven’t seen it on linear TV or serve a related ad on a smart device using the same IP address. 

You can also use ACR data for attribution. Did someone at that IP address lookup your program on their smartphone during or immediately after your ad? ACR data combined with other traffic tracking solutions might be able to tell you. You will also be able to see if ads are more effective on linear vs streaming or OTT vs on-demand. 

Finally, ACR data can help you measure the effectiveness of your ad placements. Is your ad actually being seen? 

There are limitations. Different companies control different chunks of ACR data. If you are an ad customer of one company, you may only have access to their data. However, many marketers see this as a major improvement over panel-based viewer measurement solutions.

The Future of ACR Strategy

As viewership patterns continue to evolve, your ad strategy must adjust with it. The right data can make a huge difference. Using ACR in combination with other viewership and ad performance statistics can help you put your program in front of the students who are ready to enroll. Get in touch with our marketing experts today to see just how this data can have an influence on the future of your ad placement and performance.