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Samsung Ads believes it has the answer to reach the growing ranks of gamers


By John McCarthy | Opinion editor

November 13, 2020 | 6 min read

Samsung, which operates 34 million smart TVs across Europe, has released research evidencing a large surge in console gaming during the pandemic. Alex Hole, vice-president of Samsung Ads Europe, shares how his platform may hold the key to reaching them.


Alex Hole, vice-president of Samsung Ads Europe, shares how his platform may hold the key to reaching gamers.

As one of the main operators of smart TV units, Samsung holds an enviable position in the media ecosystem, with both a hardware business and a connected TV empire. And it’s been keeping a keen eye on viewer habits during the pandemic, recently releasing a study showing a huge increase in play time for console gamers.

Tying in with the impending launch of the new Xbox and PlayStation, the TV giant is reminding advertisers that there are few opportunities to reach gamers on these consoles – but through CTV, they can identify and reach viewers before they log onto their devices.

The research

Samsung’s study used its Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) technology to identify what its 34m users across the UK, Spain, Italy, France and Germany consume on TV.

It said gaming time (people using games consoles on Samsung TVs) is up 21% per day. There are only so many hours in the day of course, so the balance of consumption has seen some shifts too. On average, its gaming audience spends 45% of their total daily TV time streaming, 37% gaming and only 18% watching linear TV. Therefore, Samsung argues that 82% of that time is beyond the reach of the traditional TV market. It’s caused a bit of friction with industry body Thinkbox, which ran a not-so-gentle blog reminding Samsung that TVs are not people (habits must be extrapolated with a pinch of salt) and that some TVs are placed in the house for specific purposes (like a gaming TV in the bedroom, for example).

Putting the wider implications of the research aside, the study a deep look at how media consumption in Samsung’s ecosystem has changed.

Gamers might look upon remote working (and even furlough) as advantageous to their hobby. In the UK, weekday morning gaming is up 48% since January 2020. Weekend mornings have risen by 34%. Of the five European nations measured, the UK spent the most time with their controllers, at an average of two hours, 14 minutes per day.

How to target gamers on CTV

Samsung Ads’ Alex Hole says its ACR tech can identify footage from “hundreds of the most popular game titles” and effectively log sessions.

Once it identifies a gamer, said profile is opened up to advertising opportunities on the Samsung platform. Hole hopes this data will be enough to convince buyers to “complement existing linear TV campaigns” by extending them to those inside Samsung’s CTV ecosystem.

Perhaps Xbox or PlayStation will see value in using native ads in Samsung’s UI and AVOD properties on Samsung TV Plus to upsell console users. Or it could be used to punt specific games series on its console launcher.

Of the 34 million active Samsung TVs, 2.8 million have games consoles connected.

Hole says: “In terms of extracting insights from the gaming audience – this is two-pronged. By using our ACR technology we can see what games they are playing and on what consoles. The second is how this audience is behaving across TV altogether; how much time they are spending gaming, streaming and on linear TV.”

If anything, Samsung has identified that those ardent gamers are essentially invisible to advertisers for much of the time, with console platforms and gamers showing resistance to advertising in their games. Its solution is in talking to them before they boot up.


This is about more than gaming, of course. Hole admits that for many gaming is a social, rather than singular, activity.

“The latest Ofcom Media Nations report goes on to suggest that connected games consoles that are connected to the internet, and which offer voice and chat communications, are perhaps being used also for a broader purpose, including interacting socially with others remotely, not just for playing games.

“We expect this to continue to grow – especially with major new games consoles launching in November.“

He says he’s been in conversation with “savvy“ brands about this opportunity. They apparently see it as an opportunity to reach who have moved beyond linear TV.

It remains a point of friction that Samsung claims TV streaming now accounts for more TV viewing time than linear. Thinkbox caveated the research, saying: “The Samsung Ads TV viewing data is an interesting, but unrepresentative view, which reflects the viewing behaviour on 8% of all UK TV sets and is skewed towards viewing on new TVs with the latest streaming tech.“

Hole however, can only address consumption on his platform. He says: “It appears that streaming is no longer an emerging behaviour and this shift in TV consumption should be considered when developing media strategy. The way that consumers move seamlessly between OTT, linear and gaming will continue to evolve – this is an important trend for marketers to note and potentially adopt strategies to reach the total TV watcher.”

Naturally, Hole’s hoping that advertisers look for these gaps and opportunities in consumption to speak to audiences. “Audiences are increasingly fragmented, flicking from linear, to VOD services, or even their gaming console,“ he concludes.

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