Samba TV is a company that specialises in the exploitation of TV data to improve both content and advertising. Founded by Ashwin Navin, one of the co-founders of BitTorrent, the company is now pushing into Europe with a number of new hires, including Regional VP Hitesh Bhatt who will be heading up the EMEA office after joining from Sky. Here Bhatt explains what Samba TV will be bringing to the market and how the company differentiates itself from other second screen vendors.
Could you provide an overview of what Samba TV do and there a USP to what you’re doing?
Samba TV uncovers what people want to know about TV. Working in concert with viewers, from whom we gain explicit opt-in for use of their viewing data in exchange for content recommendations, we are able to gather very granular insights into audience viewing behaviour. In the USA, we have built the single most comprehensive source of TV viewership insights drawn from two unique technologies. The first technology is something we call Content ID, which recognises all types of TV content — from linear TV to time-shifted viewing but also OTT content and even game play. To this rich data source, we have added set top box and TV app data. The second unique technology is a proprietary ‘device map’ that associates laptops, smartphones, tablets and desktops to the ‘master key’ of a household – the TV.
The first way advertisers can take advantage of what Samba has built is to ‘Sync & Retarget’ digital ads to any content that plays across a TV screen. For example, if a BMW ad comes on the TV, we can send a BMW ad to a second screen in real-time, or at a later date to enable thing like sequential messaging. We can sync the second screen ad to any content on screen – your own ad, a competitor’s ad, even non-ad supported content like the BBC, as well as OTT content from Netflix/Amazon Prime etc.
In the US, where we have been in market longer, advertisers have been working with us on measurement and analytics. Since Samba can see which audiences have been exposed to which ad and determine if an ad led to a sale or other conversion event, we can now measure the commercial impact of TV ad exposure. In addition to advertisers, broadcasters have been particularly interested in the insights this type of research yields for their ‘tune-in’ campaigns.
We are now embarking on rolling out the above offering to the UK and Europe. The Sync and Retarget product will launch in Q1 2017, with the Research and Analytics products coming on board in H2 2017.
Many second screen advertising companies have struggled to scale in spite of the seemingly logical case for extending TV campaigns across other screens. Is cross-screen finally starting to scale?
Samba’s ability to track actual viewing to TV ads and content, plus our strong analytics capabilities, set us apart from other second screen companies. We have scaled significantly in the USA with a combination of media targeting and analytics products. Simply running online media at the same time as TV ads/content has struggled to scale because it has not always delivered significant audiences. Samba is able to offer deterministic, real-time syncing, but also the ability to retarget audiences at a later date to deliver a sequential story, amplify a TV campaign, or extend the reach of TV. This proposition offers a greater opportunity to scale, as has been demonstrated in the USA.
Is interactive TV actually happening in a meaningful way or is difficult to get people to engage with what is essentially a lean-back environment?
Many research studies have shown that second screens play a critical role in the TV viewing experience, although that experience can be complementary to or competitive with the actual TV viewing. We believe the extent to which interactive TV will be successful is tied more to the content and the experience created by individual shows and networks rather than a blanket desire on the part of consumer to interact with their television programming. There is significant use of mobile and tablet to engage in advertising and product content seen on television, as well as the use of second screens to engage in related content, such as fact checking during a presidential debate.
Various pieces of research have found that when it comes to long-form viewing, many viewers are ditching mobile and tablet viewing in favour of connected TVs as soon as on-demand/OTT services are available. Have you observed the same trend?
We definitely see that on-demand/OTT services are rising in popularity but from our perspective, TV has always been king and will continue to be so. Mobile and tablet viewing may be good for an individual but nothing gets people together like a Premier League game, for example. TV can deliver not only a better viewing experience, but certainly lend itself more effectively to social viewing.