Connected’ by Samsung Ads, brought together the industry’s sharpest minds to explore how Connected TV (CTV) is creating new opportunities for advertisers.

Have you watched Squid Game? It might seem a little odd to start here, but when you consider that this gleefully violent show reached 111 million viewers worldwide in its first month on Netflix, it begins to make sense. 

“The TV is experiencing the same revolution as our mobile phones did a decade ago,” said Won-Jin Lee, president of Samsung Electronics, during a keynote address at Samsung Ads ’Connected’.

The television landscape has evolved to such an extent that a Korean Netflix series is now outperforming traditional, linear channels when it comes to true global reach. Over the course of Samsung’s three-hour CTV industry event, the message was clear: “Connected TV is one of the most exciting areas of advertising,” said Alex Hole, VP and GM at Samsung Electronics, in his welcome keynote. “While clearly nascent it is fast moving and experiencing rapid growth; advertisers are gravitating towards a new offering that marries the best of digital targeting with the brand building power of TV. 

The virtual event which was filmed at the Samsung Kings Cross store – a space that aims to fuse community with technology and explores the intricacies of the connected home. It’s this store that Hole said provided inspiration for the flagship event, ‘Connected’. Samsung Ads brought together advertisers, publishers and industry thought leaders to discuss the current state of play for CTV or, as Hole put it, “... to plan for the future we need to understand the now.”

“We can’t get away from the fact that the linear TV experience has shifted forever,” said Vicky Fox, OMD’s chief planning officer. Global forecasts predict that the CTV market will reach $43 billion by 2025. In Germany and the UK, more than half of households own a smart TV.  So how exactly do advertisers, in the age of disruption, seize this golden opportunity and reach audiences efficiently at scale via CTV?  

It starts with understanding how and where consumers are watching TV. Here are some key lessons from the event:

Enticing advertisers to embrace CTV

“I genuinely thought we would be where we are today. But the only real surprise is there is still so much work to be done,” said Publica’s vice president of CTV Strategy, Paul Gubbins.

The TV has undoubtedly become the home’s heartbeat – a gateway device into a digital universe. Consumers are not only using it to browse the TV (19% of users), but they’re also engaging in activities like exercise (15%) and listening to music (27%), according to recent Ipsos research The 2021 CTV Viewer. On the Samsung TV alone, there are over 2,000 apps on the platform. 

We are in the middle of a streaming war, but the potential of AVOD looms. The pandemic not only ‘Zoomified’ the world, but it also turbocharged our appetite for free ad-supported services. 

“The SVOD guys are still pretty dominant, but as more people discover the free services on their TVs – because TV manufacturers are making it easier for consumers to discover these services – then usage will increase,” said Gubbins. “That’s when it becomes a compelling opportunity for advertisers because the inventory is there, the data is there, it’s measurable, it’s quantifiable.”

So clearly the scale of the opportunity for buyers and planners is prevalent. The challenge is how swiftly agencies can move advertisers into the CTV sector. 

Gubbins continued, “From an agency’s perspective, they are acutely aware of the size of the opportunity, but they deal with different types of advertisers – legacy, traditional TV advertisers – who are slightly slower to pull all their money out of traditional advertising and invest in the free ad-supported apps.” 

According to Gubbins, the key, as always, lies in the industry’s ability to adeptly measure and segment audiences. How do we quantify reach across ad-supported streaming services? And what does privacy look like for consumers when they’re streaming free shows? 

Reach is vital

“Ratings are building blocks. Reach is the driver for businesses,” noted Vicky Fox during a fireside chat. Fox’s perspective was reinforced across multiple sessions, demonstrating the importance of discoverability in an era of content overload. 

The good news is that innovation is coming from both the agency and TV manufacturing sides. Agencies such as WPP are reshaping entire internal divisions to offer brands a centre of excellence, to help make the transition from traditional to addressable channels. For OMD, CTV has become a central piece in the planning portfolio. 

In-game advertising is a huge opportunity

The power of CTV can be found in the many ways advertisers can drive meaningful connections with their audience. And it’s hard to talk about the opportunities of CTV without talking about gaming. 

“We are now starting to see that in-game advertising opportunities are on the increase,” said OMD international planning director Sean Smith. But he warned that advertisers needed to speak to different gaming communities in different ways, saying, “You need to find opportunities to segment audiences. Taking a blanket approach is almost lazy.”

As gamers continue to spend even more time on their devices, advertisers have a unique opportunity to leverage the data CTV provides and tap into gamers when they’re in the gamer mindset. 

Technology built for discovery 

As the role of TV expands and innovation shapes our lives and habits, understanding how technology and consumer behaviours are evolving has never been more important. So how is TV not only driving but also adapting to user behaviour patterns?

“TV is becoming the gateway in your living room,” said Sang Kim. “With Tizen OS, we’re able to develop services including fitness videos, video communication, music and even an art gallery for our frame TVs.”

“This innovation allows us to build an ecosystem with our partners, so they have an outlet to distribute their content around the world,” he said.

Kim also says that Samsung’s Universal Guide can help with curation and discovery in a sometimes overwhelming world of content. “We want to make sure that all these great services and content are front and centre for our users. Real estate is always scarce on platforms, so we provide as many outlets as possible, so that our content providers can work with us to distribute their content.” 

This appetite for people using their TVs for more than just watching their favourite shows is a growing trend – Ipsos research The 2021 CTV Viewer showed that 19% have used the TV to browse the internet and 27% to listen to music in the last year. So how does Kim see the role of the TV evolving?

“TVs has been around for 100 years, and its primary function is still to provide video content. But over the past 18 months, we’ve seen tremendous growth on TV outside of this. For example, people asking ‘how to stay healthy’ or using their TV as the largest speaker or screen they have in their house for music streaming or video conferencing. We will continue to ensure these experiences get innovated on our TVs.”

What to expect in the next 50 years…

What if immersive virtual reality is so real that you can’t decipher reality from myth? In a sensational conclusion to the event, Fanatical Futurist founder Matthew Griffin left the audience wondering how technology will shape our lives in 2069’s metaverse 2.0. 

Human cells will turn into dual core computing devices. There’ll be unhackable quantum communications on a planetary scale and energy will be both batteryless and wireless. 

“Our relationship with food in 2069 is also very different to what we see today and we’ll be living longer as new medical advances add years to our lifespan,” Griffin said. By 2049, we’ll reach what’s known as the singularity where humans merge with technology, he explained, and genetically-engineered humans will be disease-resistant in ways we can hardly imagine.

As for the future of TV? In 2069, we won’t be using Netflix or Amazon Prime to stream content to our TVs, we’ll simply think about what we want to watch and it will play. With so many unimaginable advances on their way, there’s one thing that’s certain: constant change in the advertising landscape will keep opening new possibilities for meaningful, data-led interactions with consumers.