Content Detection Technologies: Identifying content being consumed

The nature of how people consume their media is changing dramatically.  These ever-changing shifts make it critical across the industry to have accurate data on what, when and how audiences are consuming content.

Our advanced engineering technologies deliver a full, accurate and connected view of when and how TV and video content is watched.

We use two main technologies to do this, audio watermarking and fingerprinting.  They can be used together, and are more powerful when they are combined. 

Audio watermarking

Audio watermarking technology detects video content wherever and whenever it’s consumed.  This is particularly important given that there are so many new ways that TV and video content are now available.

A series of codes are embedded into the programming, like watermarks.  These are picked up by the meters used in our audience panels, to identify the advert or programme and the channel they are watching.  It also tracks the distribution network or video portal.

We use two complementary audio watermarking technologies to do this.

The SNAP watermark identifies the channel the audience is following across TV, video and radio.  Separately, the INK watermark identifies content, whether that is programming or advertising.  The two SNAP and INK watermarks can work together, and both be detected by the same meters.


Fingerprinting identifies which channel is being viewed, using a sound sample in the content.  It can do this for both analogue or digital transmissions.

The technology has the advantage of operating independently of broadcasters and set top box manufacturers.

The meters take an audio sample of the programme, which is then turned into a digital fingerprint and matched to a reference library of programmes.

In the panellists’ home, samples of the audio of the channel broadcast through the TV set are stored in the meter.

The data is sent to our data processing centre where it is subsequently matched with “reference” samples from all channels being measured - so determining the channel being viewed.

We have recently made significant enhancements to provide measurement to the second and be more resistant to the acoustic pick up. This new system improves the data processing and delivery.


Audience Measurement
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