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Discoverability: The new battleground for the TV attention economy

Nik Dewar, European Sales Director, Samsung Ads
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There’s nothing better than finishing a long day’s work and settling in for an evening in front of the TV. And then, the familiar dread: I have no idea what to watch in this endless array of possibilities. Football is on, there’s a brand new series just out that everyone at work just loves and so many of my old and faithful favourite films are right there at my fingertips.

The rate of new content being produced is not slowing down either, and many streaming services are investing in exclusive content. Back in January this year, Netflix committed to releasing a brand new film every week. In March, DAZN became the first streaming service to win exclusive rights to a major domestic league in its native territory with Italian Serie A football rights. And most recently last month, Amazon bought MGM for £8.5bn, expanding its library to include a further 4,000 film titles and 17,000 hours of TV programming.

Choice paralysis can be difficult for consumers. PwC found 29% of audiences feel frustrated and overwhelmed by the array of choices that are on offer. Viewers enjoy the power of being in control of the content they want to watch, when and where – but they want help doing so.

Fortunately, CTV (connected TV) is evolving to alleviate some of the burden of decision making by providing smart design and astute recommendations for audiences based on their interests and past viewing behaviour. And offering this kind of experience has big benefits for brands, who can use these insights to reach their desired audiences and make the discoverability of content on CTV even easier and more engaging for them.

Discoverability by design

When it comes to discovering new content on CTV, design plays a big part. Content is often scattered across multiple services, so navigation is a crucial factor when it comes to the modern TV experience.

Consumers are now well accustomed to searching and using apps on mobile and web, and understandably want the same seamless experience on TV. This is something Ben King, Chief Subscription Officer at global sport streaming service, DAZN, raised with me during our recent chat for Mediatel’s Connected TV World Summit.

“What we find at DAZN is that a lot of customers discover us through web and mobile, but increasingly they are shifting their viewing habits over to the smart television,” he said. “What we would love to do is make the discovery of our app and our content and the sign-up of our service much easier on a Smart TV device than it has been in the past. And that’s where we collaborate with partners like Samsung Ads to try and ease that user experience, so you can go from discovery, to sign-up, to content enjoyment all with one remote control.”

As the world’s largest TV manufacturer that created the world’s first Smart TV back in 2008, Samsung has been constantly striving to simplify the whole search and discovery experience on our TVs. We realise it’s not just about the quality of the screen that will entice consumers to purchase our TVs, but also the ease and simplicity to navigate and discover what you want to watch.

In partnership with Kantar, Samsung found out that accessibility and scale of streaming apps available on our TVs is one of the main influencing decisions with regard to purchase, with 83% of respondents agreeing. 84% also said that ease of use and a simple UI (user interface) were important factors.

Smart design on Smart TVs is an obvious win to get audiences to interact with your content, but it’s especially powerful when paired with data to provide individual households with a truly personalised TV experience and make content discovery even easier.

Data-driven content and recommendations

Imagine a world where you don’t need to jump into every app to discover what’s on, and instead have a customisable menu and personalised recommendations based on your previous viewing habits. This is exactly the challenge we have been trying to solve at Samsung Ads, using our own first-party ACR data and by partnering with brands and content producers.

ACR data can show us how households are interacting with content on their Samsung devices, and can help us better understand emerging trends and changes in viewing behaviour. For example, in 2020 we saw a 62% increase in streaming viewing time, a 58% increase in linear viewing time, and a 22% increase in time spent gaming across our devices.

DAZN, meanwhile, is looking at how machine learning and AI can help suggest to its subscribers what to watch next, in addition to using audience insights and data to influence what type of content gets made.

Ben said, “[The feedback] we get from fans is, ‘we love watching the live events, but in this world of social media and more access to stars, we want to see beyond the corporate gloss of the television studio, and we want an insight into what it’s taken to get to that level of high level athlete’. So, we are doing a lot of original content storytelling, trying to tell unique and different stories behind the teams, the athletes, the sports themselves, that allow you to engage and entertain yourself with sport between games.”

None of this is possible without data. As Ben points out, digital-native platforms like DAZN “live and survive on data”, and all of this must be fed back into making the best possible viewing experience for audiences. This is true across marketing, and certainly across the CTV space.

With the proliferation of Internet connected TVs, television as a medium has never been more powerful. The increase in content and platform choices now available to audiences means that the ease and experience of discoverability will be an increasingly important factor in a platform’s success. Those that use data and design to offer audiences the best CTV experience will win this next battle for attention.

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