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We Need To Look At Addressable Holistically

Television is at an exciting inflection point where linear addressable advertising—long the dream of the industry—is increasingly available, and increasingly the norm in ad plans. That development comes with a regrettable footnote, however: it finally happened when linear audiences were in decline. 

Fortunately, the viewers are not vanishing, they are streaming. This gives advertisers who love the targeting and measurability of addressable ads an important tool to complement their traditional linear and linear addressable: addressable streaming.

In the universe of Samsung Smart TVs, we see that streaming continues to be the main way audiences watch TV. Streaming has risen from 57% to 63% of time spent on TV from Q1 2020 to Q1 2021. This is a peak in streaming viewing, and it has held on throughout the pandemic. 

At the same time, the number of TVs in our ecosystem that watch zero linear is 23% as of Q1 2021. The “light linear” viewer—defined by us as the bottom third of linear viewers based on time spent—is also growing “lighter.” In Q1 2020, this group watched an already small 1.1 hours of linear per month. That is now down to 39 minutes, which means about half of the Smart TV-watching ecosystem (49%, combining light linear viewers and non-linear viewers) is becoming extremely hard to reach on linear TV.

This poses a challenge to addressable-loving advertisers. With traditional linear already risking over-frequency with large ad loads and heavy viewers absorbing most of the impressions, is it wise to invest every addressable ad dollar in linear? Is it time to add addressable streaming ads as a substantial part of the addressable mix?

Shrewd buyers will ask whether streaming audiences are truly available for advertising. With the ultra-successful rise of premium ad-free streaming services such as Disney+, it would seem like there are fewer advertising opportunities in streaming. The content on subscription apps is indeed warmly embraced: ad-free SVOD content is adopted by 72% of our viewers, and constitutes 81 minutes of viewing per day.

But with overall enthusiasm for streaming rising, so are streaming ad opportunities. With a greater streaming audience, more time spent, and the allure of free services, ad-supported streaming (or AVOD) has become an ad environment with scale. In Q1, 72% of Samsung Smart TVs were tuned to AVOD content—equal to the penetration of SVOD. Time spent in AVOD grew a dramatic 95% from Q1 2020 to Q1 2021. 

The result is that AVOD now rivals SVOD in daily time spent—now 79 minutes per day for AVOD. With this vibrant growth in AVOD, streaming is clearly now a viable and scaled ad environment, with all of the virtues of addressable linear.

The targeting, measurability and availability of addressable TV in many ways constitutes the advertising nirvana TV advertisers have dreamed of. There just has to be an audience there to see it. With linear audiences declining, linear addressable advertising needs a complement; and this complement can be found in addressable streaming.

Justin Evans is Global Head of Analytics and Insights at Samsung Ads. This article is part of our Thought Leaders Circle initiative to open up TV[R]EV to a wide range of respected industry voices.