MediaMath recently became the first platform to carry Samba TV segments as “always on,” along with carrying their custom segments and measurement solutions. They have shown themselves to be one of our fastest-growing partners in just under two months, conveying that TV targeting is just the tip of the iceberg in the fast-evolving programmatic television space. I recently sat down with Ashwin Navin, CEO and co-founder of Samba TV, to find out more of his thoughts on the space.
- What do you think it’s going to take to break the mystery of which audiences are leaving television and where they’re going?
At Samba, we have the industry’s best TV data that’s real-time and cuts across all screens and platforms. With that perspective, we believe we are living in the Golden Age of Television. People are watching more TV content than ever before—but we’re watching across many more platforms and devices. We are also watching on a different timeline: time-shifted viewing or binge-watching is now mainstream because the consumer is in control of the TV “schedule.” The new “prime time” is “me time.”
The challenge for advertisers is not that audiences are leaving TV, it’s more about how to reach consumers across a more fragmented viewing landscape.
- What are the other platforms that are most rivaling TV right now?
The most powerful platform today is TV + digital. We know there was a lot of mud-slinging during the upfronts with every network claiming the bigger audience. From our work with major advertisers, we think that the brands who win are the ones who can activate a cohesive, integrated TV + digital strategy—programmatically. TV provides broad reach in a short amount of time while digital helps you gain incremental reach and increase frequency with more possibility for interactivity. Audience data like ours and platforms like MediaMath’s make the consumer truly addressable in today’s complex landscape.
- How do you think putting real metrics on TV viewership will marry with measurement in other, digital channels to help marketers be more effective across all platforms?
Both TV and digital have challenges that can be solved with better metrics. In both cases, advertisers always want to answer a simple question: ‘How many people actually saw my ad, and did it drive more interest and sales in my product?’ With TV, the challenge is advertisers need this information delivered in real time so they can attribute the benefits accurately and make decisions quickly.
For digital, information is available in real time but it’s harder to see where and when your ad has run. Impressions and click-throughs, while they may help in measuring lower-funnel conversions, don’t help brand advertisers understand impact on upper- or mid-funnel activities.
At Samba TV, our goal is to help advertisers bridge TV and digital so they can see the complete and precise path consumers take from TV ad exposure to website visitation or purchase.
- Why do you think no one brought measurement to TV before Samba?
No one has brought digital-like measurement to TV before Samba because it was hard. If you’re not embedded in the TV, you have to rely on surveys to gather information.
At Samba, we have spent a significant amount of time building out our TV viewership data set, developing relationships with nine of the top 12 smart TV brands and several cable TV providers. We provide an accurate look at audience behavior from a nationwide, census-like panel, one of the largest in the industry, representative of the U.S. population. Our first-party data, which looks at media engagement behavior over time for the same household, provides a real-time, second-by-second holistic view of content and advertising consumption across cable and broadcast TV, OTT, apps and digital for a granular understanding of consumer behavior. By bringing together thousands of different data attributes, we help brands make better decisions and see the consumer path to purchase, from online to offline, as it truly is.
- What is it going to take for real-time programmatic media buying in TV to really hit its stride?
There have been a lot of good efforts in programmatic TV but we still need to upgrade the infrastructure of television delivery and marry that with better data. The industry needs analytics on what ads people are exposed to and the ensuing impact, so it will take awhile for “programmatic TV” to hit its stride. That all said, the perfect place to learn about programmatic TV is to start thinking of it like programmatic “individual” and to reimagine the television as a format, not a device. With that perspective, programmatic television is already here, and you can address all the second and third screens by way of our partnership with MediaMath