Tony Donovan, managing director of Reuters TV, told delegates at the PaidContent UK forum, in London today, that a significant proportion of broadcast TV carried a watermark - to assist identification of footage - and similar system needed to be established for use online.
"We want to be able to do that in an online environment, we want watermarking and/or fingerprinting technologies that are robust enough for us to put into production, confident that they are going to withstand the processing and handling through any number of diverse channels online, such that the unique identifier [that Reuters embeds] will be robust enough for us to say our bit of content was used in the following ways, by the following people.
"Then it starts to open up all the other things we have been talking about, how can you use that information to monetise, how can you use that information to share revenue between all the people that had a part in that process, including platforms and producers.
"That is what we have in the linear TV environment and that is what we want to replicate online."
Reuters uses a firm called Teletrax to watermark its broadcast TV news, he said, and a similar system was needed for the online video industry to develop.
A watermarking system, he added, would work in a similar way to the Attributor fingerprinting system Reuters already uses for its text product.
"We use it [fingerprinting] for many of the same reasons that we use watermarking in our imagery, so we can cut out a lot of wasted effort…we can tailor our effort to try not to write stories that people don't want to use, or shoot video that people don't want to use," he added.
Despite measuring the use of different forms of content, patterns suggesting how the relationships between different media were used had not yet been established, he later told Journalism.co.uk.
"I think we are at the threshold, perhaps, of being able to do that. But the reality is that we don't have anything like the degree of satisfaction that we have in the linear TV world about the information we get back on the use of our content," he said.
"Attributor works pretty well for text, but in an online video environment it doesn't work particularly well, so we are looking really for somebody to give us the robust detail that we are looking for. Do we want it? Yes. Have we got it? Not yet.
"I'm not sure it necessarily going to be one devise or solution across every medium, I think what we are looking for is standardised reporting that maybe draws data from different sources."