How will Clearcast VoD advice work in an increasingly automated & personalised future?

10th January 2019

Clearcast regularly gets approached by AdTech companies who want to understand how their technologies may integrate with the copy clearance process so that they may deliver VoD advertising to broadcasters. These technologies usually involve automation, sometimes personalisation and even advertising elements created on the fly.


Whilst VoD advertising does not have to be precleared in the way that linear TV advertising does, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky ask agencies to submit their VoD ads to Clearcast for us to advise on (Turner, our other shareholder, doesn’t currently have a VoD service as such). This means that if you want to integrate with their services you’ll have to have a process for ensuring ads you serve have clock numbers and are reviewed by Clearcast. Clearcast will review a VoD ad under the CAP (non broadcast) or BCAP (broadcast) codes according to whether it is also being carried on linear channels.


The AdTech market is developing quickly and Clearcast and the broadcasters are working together to evolve our processes to meet the opportunities that the changes bring. No two AdTech solutions are the same but here are some things to think about when it comes to advertising compliance:


Ads that are created by an agency or post house in a traditional way and then served programmatically (let’s call them Edits):


  1. These are straightforward; they are unique, can be given a clock number and reviewed by us as part of our normal processes.
  2. Ads with multiple variants, for example addressable ads, e.g. Sky Adsmart, that may be very similar but have different end frames are also relatively easy. We would normally take a “parent and child” approach, linking them all to a generic variant to simplify the process for everyone.


Ads that are created by an agency or post house in a traditional way and then served programmatically with up to the minute information digitally superimposed (let’s call these Templates):


  1. These can be relatively straightforward, for example betting odds. Clearcast will review the process for generating the information and if we are satisfied it is robust and will serve accurate information that may be verified then we will approve the template.
  2. In some cases, templates may only be used with us on site to clear the “live” elements (this is a premium service). For example, a template that features live tweets, for instance in relation to a movie trailer, would need the tweets to be reviewed Pre-Transmission individually to ensure they are not likely to cause offence or be otherwise problematic.


Ads that are constructed from building blocks on the fly (let’s call these On-the-fly ads):


  1. These offer advertisers a huge number of permutations, perhaps stitching together product, celebrity, location, music, mood to target customers at different times or environments. Whilst broadcasters aren’t currently deploying these on their VoD sites, we may expect them to do so over time. So how would Clearcast and the broadcasters handle them? Whilst each permutation could theoretically be reviewed by us, the many hundreds of potential permutations and amount of repetition of the creative elements means it would be inefficient to do that. A better approach would be to review each creative element and agree the template to be applied to deliver the permutations. One challenge of this type of ad is that they are hard to fit into the traditional clock number approach. The simplest way to manage on-the-fly ads would be to clock each individual element and then for the complete ad to be treated as a series of shorter clocked blocks. In practice, the approach we take will depend on the specific solutions deployed by the broadcasters and detailed discussions between the companies involved about the best approach.


The devil, as always, is in the detail and ultimately how we develop our VoD advice services will depend on how the broadcasters and our other clients deploy these new advertising solutions. Clearcast is always happy to have initial discussions with AdTech companies who want to understand how advertising compliance may fit into their processes.


We would always recommend anyone trying to understand how advertising compliance works to sign up for one of our training programmes.


By Chris Mundy, Managing Director