Smart TV manufacturers are fairly uniquely placed to play a major role in OTT advertising. They act as a gateway to OTT publishers, while also having insight into both OTT and linear viewing. Many also run their own OTT services, providing them with their own inventory to sell.
Samsung has been one of the most active smart TV manufacturers in this space, and last month it began allowing brands and agencies in several European markets to buy inventory on its pre-installed OTT service, Samsung TV Plus. VAN spoke with Alex Hole, vice president of Samsung Ads Europe, to hear more about the strategy behind Samsung TV Plus, and how it balances its role as a content provider and a gateway to other OTT services.
What does the advertising experience on Samsung TV Plus look like in terms of ad formats and ad break lengths? How do you keep it palatable for consumers?
In Europe, Samsung Ads offers native Smart TV advertising on the first screen navigation menu, app store, Universal Guide and our newly launched AVOD service, Samsung TV Plus OTT service. Our premium display and video ads are integrated into the native Smart TV experience, helping viewers discover brands and content.
Users have the choice to interact with the ads on the first screen navigation menu, which will allow for a preview panel to appear for an expanded ad experience. All interactions are user-initiated, so if a consumer does not want to engage with an ad, they do not have to. We aim to provide a better Smart TV experience by serving ads in a way that is respectful, unobtrusive and customised to consumers’ interests at the device level.
What sorts of data can advertisers use to target audiences on Samsung TV Plus?
Samsung Ads provides insights to advertisers using our own first party data – collected at a device level with consent from the user. This data from our smart TVs is powered by Automatic Content Recognition (ACR), which is technology that can recognise and identify content playing on a device. This data is deterministic and not modelled to provide an accurate, holistic view of CTV viewers.
We continually work with advertisers to understand how they can reach consumers in the best way for them. The service launched with the ability to target according to daypart e.g. weekends and peak hours, and for advertisers to select channel bundles. We continue to develop our capabilities alongside feedback we receive from our partners. We also have a number of other targeting solutions in the works and expect to launch them later this year.
What consumption patterns are you seeing on Samsung TVs in terms of Linear vs AVOD vs SVOD?
Samsung Ads has access to unmodelled, first-party insights from the usage of our Smart TV devices that show how TV consumption habits are changing. With the number of streaming services available – both subscription video on demand (SVOD) and ad-supported video on demand (AVOD) – are proliferating at speed, now more than half of British homes are watching TV shows through a subscription streaming service – up 4.4 percent from the previous quarter – and 6.03m homes (21 percent) subscribe to more than two SVOD providers.
In Q1 this year, 28 percent of all our active TVs were watching less than two hours of traditional linear TV a month*. In addition to this, 14 percent were watching no linear TV at all – which is reflective of heavy streamers and gamers. Combining these, we see that 42 percent of Samsung Smart TV devices in the UK are watching less than two hours of linear TV a month, or are ‘light linear viewers’. This is a growing trend that we are witnessing throughout Europe across millions of Samsung Smart TVs.
These insights stem from Samsung Smart TV devices, which is not representative of the whole of the UK, but we believe places us in a unique position to help brands navigate the ever-changing video landscape and provide complex insight into viewership habits.
* As per Samsung Ads data on the UK market. In the UK Samsung Ads’ real time data set is representative of 3.7m ACR enabled Television sets. There are 5.1m ads-enabled Samsung Smart TVs in the UK and over 30m across Europe.
Samsung’s ACR tech gives you a window into linear viewing – do you primarily see the opportunity for advertisers on Samsung TV Plus as extending their linear campaigns? Or do you pitch Samsung TV Plus as an alternative to linear?
We are working with many brands and agencies across Europe and conversations vary according to the desired outcome each advertiser wants to achieve. The world of CTV changes quickly and therefore our approach always centres around listening to our partners and then working back to an executable solution. For example, this could be a linear reach extension to target new audiences that are either hard to find or have already been exposed to the advertiser’s campaign.
We also have native placements which help ensure that a content partner or brand advertiser can surface their product or content right at the point a household is selecting what to watch or do on their TV. Finally if an advertiser wants to reach new audiences we can run their TV ads within Samsung TV Plus – which advertisers can access either programmatically or via a managed service. What works really well is when there is a combination of all three (Native, Linear Reach Extension and TV Plus) because this enables us to analyse campaign performance and blend it with the unique and powerful analytics that the Samsung Ads platforms generates.
How do you handle privacy around user data used for advertising?
We take our customers’ privacy seriously. It’s at the heart of everything we do. We launched the Samsung Privacy Choices App at CES this year, which gives users greater control over data collection.
Samsung Smart TVs are designed with privacy in mind. We strive to offer innovative advertising experiences for our customers, and, only with clear consent from our customers, Samsung uses device level TV data, including IP address and viewing data.
All data is encrypted and is gathered through de-identifiable device IDs, which can be reset by the user. Samsung Ads employs industry-standard security safeguards and practices to protect information.
What have been the challenges of building out Samsung’s ads business in Europe, and what has the reception been like so far?
We are proud to work with content partners across Europe to help surface their content to our consumers, in turn creating new audiences for advertisers to access.
Over the last 18 months we have built a European team that has partnered with hundreds of advertisers in over 15 European countries. From entertainment to auto, gaming to luxury goods, retail and finance – we have worked with brands and content partners across an array of different categories.
We are still learning from both advertisers and our partners all the time and each time we run a new campaign, with a different objective or creative execution we discover something new. There are of course some challenges for the industry but these are far outweighed by the opportunity ahead of us. What excites me most is the level of interest and breadth of advertisers we are working with – these are forward thinking brands who are willing to test and learn with Samsung Ads.