People have an insatiable appetite for TV. Unlike many technologies that have come and gone, TV has stood the test of time, shaping and morphing to suit ever-changing consumer habits and our love of entertainment and togetherness. The TV advertising industry is undergoing change, and shifting consumer preferences will increasingly shape television’s future. The connected TV (CTV) market can be a crowded and confusing one, often leading to choice paralysis for both the consumer and the advertiser trying to make sense of it all.
How is behaviour changing and what do advertisers need to consider to capture consumers’ attention now?
Evolution of the TV landscape
From the first BBC television broadcasts in 1936 until the launch of Channel 4 in 1982, we only had three TV channels available in the UK. But since then the options have widened dramatically. First with cable and satellite and then with the biggest disruptor, the Internet.
The Internet democratised TV, making it easier, and cheaper, than ever to produce content and distribute it globally. One of the biggest benefactors came in 2007 when Netflix changed its model from sending DVDs in the post to streaming content. The availability of new and exciting content was at our fingertips, allowing streaming services to establish a direct relationship with the consumer at scale. This ultimately attracted a new breed of competitor: the tech giants who, as they invest billions in content, have made TV content accessible across many devices.
In 2008, Samsung launched the first Smart TV and since then we’ve seen the creation of thousands of apps, including Video on Demand (VOD) and subscription services: all of which continue to shape the traditional model of TV. Our role as manufacturer has changed fundamentally, from a provider of TV sets to a facilitator of the discovery of great content. There is now so much fragmentation in the industry that our focus is on providing one consolidated screen where consumers can review their options and make the best choice to suit their interests. As part of this changing role we have greater insights into consumer viewing behaviours across linear TV, OTT and gaming.
How do people watch TV now?
Viewing habits are fundamentally changing and therefore the challenge to linear TV has never been greater. The sheer number of streaming services available – both subscription video on demand (SVOD) and ad-supported video on demand (AVOD) – is proliferating at speed, with more than half of British homes watching TV shows through a subscription streaming service – up 4.4% from the previous quarter – and 6.03m homes (21%) subscribing to more than two SVOD providers.
Only with clear consent from our users, Samsung Ads has access to unmodelled, first party insights from the usage of our Smart TV devices which provide channel-agnostic, real-time data demonstrating usage across linear, OTT and gaming. From this, we can see how traditional TV viewing habits are changing on Samsung Smart TVs and we are seeing people shifting their viewing habits towards more frequent use of on-demand channels and content.
For example, in Q1 this year, 28% of all our active TVs were watching less than two hours of traditional linear TV a month*. In addition, 14% were watching no linear TV at all – reflecting heavy streamers and gamers. Add these together and we see that 42% 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 trend we’re seeing across Europe across millions of Samsung Smart TVs in the region.
Of course, we acknowledge that our insights stem from Samsung Smart TV devices, which is not representative of the whole of the UK, but we believe we are in a strong position to help brands navigate this complex and evolving ecosystem. All TVs are getting smarter and with 5G likely to further fuel streaming growth, we will continue to monitor device penetration with great interest.
Making sense of the changes
As viewing behaviours change, brands need to adapt their media strategies. By understanding content viewership habits and how audiences switch between channels and formats, advertisers could gain powerful insights with which to reach engaged audiences.
Firstly, brands should look to target audiences based on using industry gold standard measurement (e.g. BARB in the UK) and augment with additional insight. Smart TVs have unlocked new datasets, which enable sophisticated reach capabilities – for example advertisers can now extend their campaign message to TV sets that have missed their linear ad on the Smart TV.
This data can also be used to measure campaign delivery. The experience of watching TV now resembles the digital experience more than traditional broadcast, providing further video metrics that can be reported against, including viewability, completion, view-through and clicks. In addition, Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) – which is de-identified data collected from Smart TVs – enables a better understanding of the content being consumed behind the TV screen.
Within the Smart TV ecosystem, the home screen has a very important role to play ensuring that brands and content can be easily discovered by viewers, as they are searching for new content to watch.
How can advertisers engage with the viewer while they are in a discovery mindset?
Advertisers can do this by bringing value to the viewer through sponsorships – offering free films for a movie night for example, or providing content recommendations that are relevant to the audience and brand – there are so many opportunities to connect with engaged audiences.
Ultimately, TV still remains the best way to build a brand, launch products and communicate messages to consumers; however, with so much choice and ways to watch content, the mass audiences of before are no longer there. With the launch of 5G and new streaming services, viewership behaviours are unlikely to settle. Despite all the change, people will always want the best content on the biggest screen at their convenience.
* 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.