I was recently introduced to Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) a really interesting piece of tracking technology that could potentially be hugely effective for publishers and marketers who are looking to create more targeted personalisation. 

What is ACR?

According to Wikipedia, Automatic Content Recognition is; 

"an identification technology to recognize content played on a media device or present in a media file. Devices containing ACR support enable users to quickly obtain additional information about the content they seen without any user-based input or search efforts. For example, developers of the application can then provide personalized complementary content to viewers."

ACR gives each piece of content a digital 'fingerprint' which it cross-references to a database and matches them to generate viewership data. 

It is only available on ACR supported devices, usually smartphones and smart TV's. 

Think of it like Shazam for video and images. 

What can ACR do for you?

ACR allows publishers to provide marketers with useful insights and information about who is watching what and when. 

Once marketers have this information - it becomes much easier to provide more personalised content and relevant ad experiences. 

For example, you could be watching 'How clean is your house?' on your SmartTV and the ACR technology could then serve this user with an advert for the latest vacuum cleaners. 

Is ACR taking tracking capabilities too far?

With any type of tracking there is always going to be the question of how much data that provider is storing - potentially causing consumers to worry about their privacy.

ACR can track user behaviour with a lot of accuracy. If consumers knew just how much it could track would they willingly offer permission? 

There has to be a trade off between the company and the consumer to show how and why consent is worth while.