Inside Samsung Ads' FAST Pitch to Advertisers to Reach Sports Fans

The company is launching MLB, PGA, AHL and F1 FAST channels

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In an upfront where buyers are focused on sports and artificial intelligence, Samsung Ads is looking to score big.

At its 2024 IAB NewFronts presentation Tuesday, Samsung Ads, Samsung Electronics’ advertising arm, announced several innovations, including a new lineup of sports, music, family and entertainment content on its FAST (free ad-supported streaming television) service, Samsung TV Plus, in addition to new AI tools for targeting and performance.

“We have that direct consumer connection. We have that massive scale that [marketers] can tap into, and we’re on the forefront of innovation,” said Michael Scott, vice president and head of ad sales and operations at Samsung Ads. “We want to make sure that marketers know that we’re open for business to innovate with them.”

FAST sports opportunities

With Samsung TV being the most engaged FAST application on its connected TV service, growing 60% year over year, the company is leaning into sports content in 2024, expanding its partnerships and investment.

The company will now deliver new sports offerings, with a Major League Baseball FAST channel showcasing weekly game replays, minor league replays, game recaps and exclusive content; a PGA Tour channel bringing behind-the-scenes programming, documentaries, recaps and competitions; and an American Hockey League channel hosting live AHL games through the National Hockey League’s Los Angeles Kings’ affiliate, the Ontario Reign.

In addition, Samsung will deliver the first Formula 1 Channel, letting viewers catch up on F1, F2, F3 and F1 Academy races throughout the season; and One Championship TV for mixed martial arts and combat sports.

“I firmly believe that Samsung TV Plus, and all the other FAST platforms, are going to be players in sports,” Takashi Nakano, senior director of business development and content at Samsung, said. “We provide tremendous reach that teams and leagues need and want. You can’t have sports without a fan base. That’s something that we offer, so we’re excited about this.”

The sports landscape is shifting amid league rights deals potentially changing, the future of Diamond Sports Group’s regional sports networks uncertain amid bankruptcy and streamers increasingly getting in on sports action. But fan love for the game goes beyond just live, which is where Samsung Ads can provide additional value.

“Live sports is critical. It’s important. It’s the climax of the event. But if you take a step back around what sports really is, it’s the story. It’s the human interaction,” Nakano said. “Broadcast TV has had a hard time telling that story. The RSNs haven’t been able to do that, but in FAST and in a digital environment, we can.”

Further bolstering sports offerings, the company is offering new opportunities to connect campaign messaging across both connected TV and mobile, which comes as the Samsung News Galaxy mobile app is set to feature curated, up-to-the-minute Olympic Games content this summer in partnership with the International Olympic Committee.

Targeting AI

In addition to sports, the company is also expanding its suite of AI-powered offerings.

Smart Acquisition leverages Samsung’s data and AI technology for efficiency, delivering ads to the right audience at the right moment for the highest likelihood of conversion, according to the company. Plus, CTV on Mobile enables advertisers to leverage Samsung’s smart TV real estate and AI capabilities to acquire new users and drive engagement to mobile apps.

Additionally, Optimal Reach will reveal insights across linear and streaming to identify gaps at scale using machine learning, as well as Samsung’s TV & You panel of 5,000 participants. According to Scott, in one case, a consumer packaged goods brand saw delivery increase by 300% using the technique.

And with the landscape for data changing amid deals such as Walmart’s acquisition of Vizio, Scott noted how the company is continuing to enhance its own automatic content recognition data.

“Where we were a few years ago with the dominance of linear, having linear ACR data was a fine position to be in, but we saw where the market was going and recognized that we needed to have a holistic view of these audiences,” Scott said. “Now, we can capture our ACR data in-app through a variety of mechanisms, as well as through our TV & You panel, and it really helps advertisers personify that device-level data.”

Game on

Lastly, the company is leaning into gaming, transforming an ordinary ad break on Samsung TV Plus into an interactive gaming experience. With this new innovation, Samsung will allow more people to play without a game controller.

Among updates to Samsung’s gaming, viewers can expect Rivals Arena, a cinematic card game from Return Entertainment that is exclusively on Samsung TVs through the use of a smartphone as a controller, with players joining through a QR code. Meanwhile, The Six is an interactive ad-break trivia game, providing the opportunity for advertisers to co-brand the experience.

In addition to the innovations and play for sports, the company noted that all of its announcements come with brand safety inherently baked in.

“That opportunity to deliver a safe environment for the audience and the advertiser—we think it’s huge,” Nakano said. “That’s an important thing, where you can’t just put an ad next to something that’s salacious or has an extreme amount of profanity. These are precious brands, so we believe that our environment has to be curated and precious, as well.”

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