A new system of coding individual advertisements of any type and in any medium has been adopted by over three hundred of America's largest multinational marketers.

Branded Ad-ID, it provides a foundation for digital trafficking and tracking as well as digital access and connectivity. It equates to the retail sector's Universal Product Code and, according to Chris Rohrs of the Television Bureau of Advertising, provides "an auditable 'paperless' trail for the buying, selling and invoicing of media".

Ad-ID is a joint initiative by the Association of National Advertisers and the American Association of Advertising Agencies.

Among the scheme's standard-bearers are such US and international brand titans as Allstate, Blockbuster, BMW, Capital One, ConAgra, Coors Brewing, Discovery Networks, Ford Motor Company, HBO, Home Depot, Hewlett Packard, Johnson & Johnson, Masterfoods, Nestlé, Novartis, Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, Sears Roebuck, Virgin Mobile and Wachovia.

A total of 875 stateside companies have registered for Ad-ID, and over 14,000 individual codes have been created for various forms of advertising. The four major US TV networks - ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox - are fully Ad-ID compliant.

The codes have reportedly also been generated in the UK, Canada, France, Portugal and Australia. But UK Advertising Association director general Andrew Brown told WAMN he was unaware of any British involvement in Ad-ID, while the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising did not return calls before going to press.

Says ANA president/ceo Bob Liodice: "We are committed to the industry's growth in technology and realize that antiquated coding systems and a lack of a common standard are not acceptable. Ad-ID establishes a common language that not only enables system-to-system communication, but also reduces inefficiencies and wasted dollars."

His opposite number at the AAAA O Burtch Drake is equally enthused: "Ad-ID lays the foundation upon which the future of digital communications in the industry will be built."

Data sourced from Association of National Advertisers (USA); additional content from WARC staff