Recap of Samba TV Summit Deer Valley: Exploring the Future of TV Data


Becky Calejo
Associate Director of Marketing
Dec 20, 2019

2020 is just around the corner, and with the new year comes many changes to the world of TV advertising; the introduction of the California Consumer Protection Act, increased competition in the streaming wars with the launch of Disney+, Peacock, Quibi, HBO Max, and a presidential election that promises to be the most expensive in history. With all of this ahead, Samba invited over 100 industry leaders to gather in Deer Valley, Utah to get a closer look at what the new year has in store. 

This year’s sold-out Samba TV Summit aimed to create an open, candid discussion with experts representing all sides of the industry. Speakers from Disney, Hulu, WarnerMedia, Forrester, PepsiCo, Assembly, Dentsu, Catalina, Liberty Global, and more took the stage to discuss two overarching themes throughout the week: challenges with the shifting consumer behavior, and utilizing data to reach audiences and optimize campaigns. Here are some of the highlights and key takeaways:

Understanding Changing Consumer Behavior

Today’s viewers watch the content they want, when they want it, on whichever device they prefer. Even the most popular programming is affected by greater consumer control over their experience. Dr. Jeff Silverman, Samba’s Director of Data & Analytics, explained how appointment viewing is disappearing, “Season 8 premiere of Game of Thrones had 42% of viewers watch it time-shifted. And this was one of the most anticipated premieres in recent history.”

One of the biggest factors in the shift away from linear viewing is the continued migration to CTV and OTT. According to Samba’s Head of Audience, Marc Bourget, “Next year, there’s forecasted to be over 200 million Connected TV users. That’s over 60% of the population.” In addition to greater control over the viewing experience, CTV also offers a wealth of new and unique content in the form of dozens of streaming platforms. However, the TV of the future seems to still fall behind when it comes to advertising. 

Forrester’s Joanna O’Connell shared a common frustration with CTV experiences for consumers during her keynote: “Do you know what sucks? Seeing the same ad 16 times in the same 30-minute television show.” This sentiment was echoed in a subsequent panel, The Streaming Landscape Today and Tomorrow, featuring Disney’s VP of Data Modeling & Data Science, Dana McGraw. “I think when you’re using the data in a much better way– you’re not talking about the frequency of a single ad, you’re thinking about the frequency of sequential messaging.”

(Left to right) Samba’s McAdory Lipscomb III discusses the streaming landscape of today and tomorrow with Liberty Global’s SVP of Programming, Bob Leighton, Hulu’s Head of Research & Insights, Julie DeTraglia, and Disney’s VP of Audience Modeling & Data Science, Dana McGraw.

Incorporating Data into your Marketing Plan in 2020

With today’s consumer viewing habits, advertisers must adapt and reconsider how they are targeting audiences. It’s all about reaching the right consumer, on the right device, with the right message, at the right frequency. But not all audiences are created equal. Howard Shimmel, President of Janus Strategy & Insights, explained the current discrepancy, “In a world of linear… we don’t really understand the relative cost of reaching your target audience.” The vast reach of linear TV means it’s still a crucial part of your TV strategy, but your ability to target, or even understand your performance is limited. While linear costs may be lower when compared to OTT, you could be wasting ad dollars on the wrong audience, or on someone who has already seen your ad tens, if not hundreds, of times. 

When asked, the majority of attendees agreed that better understanding TV attribution is a key part of their learning agendas for next year, and reaching their target audience is worth the incremental cost increase with CTV. 

So how do you better understand attribution and cut down on excessive frequency? 

The Tombras Group’s Kevin VanValkenburgh and Samba’s Head of Data, Ken Mallon, took the stage to co-present Samba’s True Reach and Frequency (TRF) solution. TRF provides an understanding of ad exposure across screens, enabling you to shift targeting to ensure you reach those who were unexposed. Kevin showcased how Tombras’ brands are using TRF to quantify the use of TV in campaigns and drive new site visits to the website. He shared that having this type of data at his fingertips also allows Tombras to do more bottom-funnel measurement to determine cost per lead and lifetime value of a customer.

It wasn’t all shoptalk in Deer Valley. In between expert panels, product demonstrations, and sampling the famous St. Regis Bloody Marys, we took a trip to the 2002 Olympic Park. Two-time Olympic medalist Shannon Bahrke gave us a full tour, sharing stories about her experience – and even letting us try on her medals! Shannon wasn’t the only special guest to join us this year. We had the pleasure of spending time with Silicon Valley Producer Jonathan Dotan and Mythbusters’ Jon Lung to hear their views on the industry from Hollywood’s perspective. Jonathan talked about the powerful impact of TV data from a content producer’s point of view; “If we actually get real numbers… it means that the show I was told previously by a network executive that it didn’t have an audience, could have an audience.” 

Summit attendees take in new ways to reach their target audience on cozy couches in the St. Regis ballroom.

As our summit came to an end, attendees were in agreement that the future of TV advertising requires data. But not just data alone. Data science and expertise behind the data are what powers meaningful insights that marketers need to make smart campaign decisions. Our goal at this year’s summit was to make the TV landscape a little less complicated and be a resource, a source of truth, that empowers our partners to take their business to new heights in 2020. 

A huge thank you to our guest speakers and everyone that could join us! Check out some of the highlights in our recap video below.

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