Samsung Adds More Ads To Its Smart TV’s Menu Bar

What Happened
Samsung is increasing the display ads on its Smart TVs in an attempt to make up for its declining revenue. Users of Samsung Smart TVs will soon begin to see more tile ads that appear in the menu bar alongside the most used apps, such as Netflix or YouTube. Samsung says software updates will activate clickable ads on older models of Samsung Smart TVs.

Why Brands Should Care
By ramping up the ads placed in the menu bar, Samsung is making them hard to ignore. While this move expands the advertising pool for Samsung’s clients to reach smart TV users and helps with Samsung’s bottom line, it may potentially lead to a backlash from consumers who are growing increasingly averse to ads (check out the Ad Avoidance section in our Outlook 2016 for more information). In fact, some Reddit users have already started airing their grievances. This is illustrative of the new reality of digital ads and consumer expectation, and brands should be cautious about where they are placing their ads when exploring non-traditional ads.


Source: Wall Street Journal

CES 2015: Samsung Unveils Its Holistic Plan For Smart TVs

Samsung just wrapped up its press event at CES and it reveal its holistic approach towards the Smart UHD TVs. Here are the three highlights of their plan.

Milk VR – The South Korean tech giant repurposed its not-so-known music streaming service Milk and expanded it into an online distribution service virtual reality videos. First of its kind, this service signals Samsung’s vast ambition when it comes virtual reality. Additionally, it will also distribute video and audio content for its new smart TVs.

SUHD TV – Samsung claims that its stunning new SUHD TV line-up can produce up to 64 times more color than conventional TVs, despite the range still being 4K. They’ve also set up the UHD alliance with major Hollywood studios, consumer electronics brands and companies alike to help set the standards for Ultra High Definition (UHD) content and devices.

Tizen OS – To bring the service (Milk VR) with the hardware (SUHD TVs) together, Samsung’s long awaited Tizen OS, designated for its smart TVs, was confirmed to come with the new TV line-up. Moreover, the company also mentioned Tizen’s integration with PlayStation Now, allowing users to stream PlayStation games without a console.

CES 2015 Preview: Smart TV Partnership Spotlight

More and more people are buying Smart TVs — by some projections, there will be 66MM connected households in 2016 — and so the long-developing advanced TV space should finally achieve nationwide scale. Not surprisingly, then, they’re a major theme at CES 2015. With the trade show just around the corner, we are highlighting three of our favorite partners in the connected TV space. They’ll be exhibiting at CES, so stop by their booths and say hi.
BrightLine: Veterans of the ITV space, BrightLine is focused on building rich media experiences for TV. They’re helping brands enhance their content and advertising across linear and OTT (on-demand) platforms.
Samba TV: Samba uses ACR (automatic content recognition) to identify what TV viewers are watching. Their product suite ranges from real-time TV analytics to cross device retargeting. The latter is great for audiences that watch TV while using their  phone (nearly 58%, according to a 2014 report from Ipsos).
Cognitive Networks: An example of a ACR provider focused on first-screen, Cognitive Networks also recognizes smart TV content, and displays interactive content directly under the broadcast. That interactive layer can be used to increase engagement with either programming or advertising. Cognitive Networks just netted a pretty healthy Series B, so be sure to congratulate them.

CES 2014: Sony’s Kaz Hirai Keynote Brings New Sony Streaming & Cloud Services

When Sony CEO Kaz Hirai took the stage at CES, most people were expecting something like the Playstation Now, one of many major product announcements he made. In essence, PSNow is a cloud gaming service for TVs, consoles, and phones; the service debuted at CES where test participants were able to play The Last Of Us streamed over Wi-Fi. The service is coming to a closed Beta at the end of the month, and is expected to roll out at the end of the summer, at which point it could become a very serious competitor to Steam. 

What most people weren’t expecting, however, was for Hirai to announce other cloud-based services for live TV, DVR, and Video On Demand, which is precisely what he did. It’s more ambitious than the streaming PSNow, and it looks to build out the Sony Entertainment Network in a big way, drawing consumers into a network by bolstering content and storage options, much like 4K and Streaming TV providers have done thus far at CES this year. If Sony can pull it off as well, it will certainly be a big step towards the unified Only-Sony device network that Hirai has wanted for a while now.  

Leaked: LG’s webOS TV

With days before the kickoff of CES, an image of LG’s new Smart TV interface has been leaked. It appears that LG will be using webOS, which it acquired from HP opposed to the current Google TV OS. It is not identical to webOS on smartphones, but does include a thumbnail overview of any apps that are running. While the future of the living room remains up in the air – will it be Smart TVs or set top boxes or workarounds like Chromecast – the need for an intuitive interface that lends itself to lean-back viewing is paramount.

Livestream Brings Videos To Roku

Livestream debuted a new app for Roku’s streaming devices that will allow viewers to watch Livestream events and archived on-demand videos from their TVs. The new app is Livestream’s first attempt to bring live channels to a connected TV device, and it turns out that the company was waiting on the ability to stream mostly HD content. Now that that threshold has been crossed, the streaming service decided that it wants to make a transition from a channel-based program to an event-based display, where all events that are happening at present are displayed front and center. In addition to this selection of live events, users can scroll through archived shows and games to get on demand streams. By allowing Roku to handle distribution to their audience of millions, Livestream’s content – which includes over 60 local news stations, along with live streams from The New York Times, The AP, Warner Bros. Records, and more – will expand its reach drastically into the cord-cutting space. 

Vevo Coming To Apple TV and Samsung Smart TV

Vevo, the leader in music videos, has inked a deal to bring their service to Apple TV and Samsung Smart TVs. The deal will deliver on-demand content to the two OTT platforms while expanding Vevo’s presence beyond YouTube. Over-The-Top video has plenty of functionality but lacks the breadth of content required to push it into the mainstream, so we’ll see if they can sign anymore major content partners down the road.

Samsung Acquires Boxee For $30 Million

In an acquisition reported at around $30 million dollars, Samsung has purchased Boxee, the smart TV provider that looked to blend TV and the web. It might not be the greatest deal for the New York/Tel Aviv startup who raised $26 million in funding to date, but the negotiation has serious implications for the future of Samsung’s TV offerings. For starters, Boxee’s impressive interface will likely serve Samsung well with easier searchability and an open approach to third party developers. Even more interesting is Boxee’s suite of mobile apps which Samsung may borrow from to enhance their mobile integration for their “All-Share” product.  With a slew of leading smartphones, there could be big business in a mobile component that lets users toggle between screens seamlessly–and what’s more are the advertising opportunities for cross-platform targeting. So while the smart TV space is relatively nascent (save for Xbox’s 60 million users), Samsung’s acquisition could make them a leader in the space and enable streaming media in the living room to break into the mainstream.

What To Expect From Smart TVs In The Coming Years

From connected TVs to streaming devices like Roku and Boxee, the Smart TV space is experiencing a great deal of growth. According to One Touch Intelligence, Smart TVs have a 22% U.S.penetration while over the Top Devices take 11% so what is leading consumers embracing the tech? It appears that richer content and interactivity are the driving force with apps like Netflix and Amazon Prime accessible on most platforms in addition to exclusive licensing deals from broadcast and cable networks and interactive elements like t-commerce capabilities.  For now, the space is extremely fragmented but our prediction is that dedicated streaming devices will win out as they are display agnostic.

Report: Smart TV Penetration

The Advanced TV space can be difficult to navigate but a new report from Diffusion Group casts some new light on the ecosystem. According to the report, Smart TVs with embedded app platforms make up 25% of all US broadband households compared to just 14% with streaming devices like Roku and Apple TV. Marketers looking to engage these early adopters should consider Smart TV platforms like Samsung’s Smarthub for the largest reach.