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The Drum

Innovations in CTV: what Samsung's advertising-funded VOD streaming service means for brands

Samsung’s proprietary technology allows it to visually “fingerprint” what’s on the television screen at any given time.

By the end of the tumultuous, pandemic-stricken first half of 2020 which saw so many people around Europe forced to stay at home, the appetite for SVOD (Subscription Video On Demand) services was waning as the interest in AVOD (Advertising-based Video On Demand) services increased to a record high. That AVOD audience more than doubled in the period, with the time spent watching AVOD showing astonishing growth of more than 33% – that’s over one hour and 39 minutes a day. A remarkable 54% of all streamers were accessing AVOD services on Samsung Smart TVs.

These are the standout headline statistics to emerge from a video interview (via a Samsung Smart TV, of course) with Emma-Lou Wagstaff, the evangelical head of programmatic sales at Samsung Advertising. Wagstaff, who was in conversation with The Drum’s co-founder Gordon Young, was addressing the topic of CTV (Connected Television), a subject on everyone’s lips in media. As we analyse the major developments of the post-lockdown media landscape, it is clear that the drift away from linear-only viewing, which many commentators believe the pandemic has brought forward by years, is one trend that will survive the return to whatever passes for “normal”. Watch the interview below. Article continues after video.

Samsung, the world’s leading television manufacturer, with its 34+ million Smart televisions across Europe, is clearly uniquely well-placed to counter the strongest argument against CTV to date: the lack of meaningful, reliably accurate data. A combination of this sheer scale plus its industry-leading ACR (automatic content recognition system) results in what Wagstaff describes as “the most effective and accurate way to capture TV viewership data” in the marketplace.

Samsung’s proprietary technology allows it to visually “fingerprint” what’s on the television screen at any given time from linear TV to videogames. “It helps us truly understand the Samsung household,” Wagstaff says. “It’s all done with one-to-one deterministic data. There’s no modeling involved and we also do not license our data out. We can target gamers and offer linear ad reach extensions, using first-party data, to viewers who have not see or are under-exposed to your linear ads.”

AVOD’s potential is particularly clear when it comes to those difficult-to-reach cord-cutters and light linear TV viewers. Across all Samsung TVs with their access to some 200+ channels, 60% of all content is streamed content, consumed by viewers who watch less than three hours of linear television a month. Wagstaff pointed to a need to invest in more free, premium curated video content to allow advertisers to reach heavy streamers in a premium television environment.

Samsung’s TV Plus service launched two years ago in the US and 2019 in Europe. Nearly half of all TV Plus viewers are cord-cutters, enabling advertisers to reach these elusive targets in a programmatic adjustable CTV platform. Samsung claims that 44% of new TV Plus audiences are difficult to reach via linear television. On this service they receive full TV screen advertising for an enhanced viewer experience.

Wagstaff concluded that “the launch of programmatic CTV on our owned and operated platforms – complete with ACR – means Samsung can offer a really agile environment with real-time optimisations. We can drive scale with non-skippable, targeted ads that are really cost-efficient too”.

Now that the power and efficacy of CTV has been revealed at perhaps a faster speed than if there had not been pandemic-induced lockdowns, it is unlikely that this exponential growth will slow in the near future and certainly not as we enter what continues to appear an uncertain 2021.