The Secrets Of Ad Avoidance: Q&A With Samba's Ashwin Navin

It’s an exciting time to be involved with the data coming in across many TV/video platforms. But, “the challenges are obvious,” says Ashwin Navin, CEO and co-founder, Samba TV. “Audiences are dividing their attention by screens. Right now, 25% of the viewership for prime-time TV shows is occurring outside of the TV. It was reported that the Olympics in Rio compared to London declined 17% in TV viewing but consumption on other devices was up +22%.”

According to Navin, “Samba is uniquely able to measure the audience across all screens holistically, so that media companies can effectively sell their entire audience and advertisers can more accurately plan their media across screens.”

Then there’s the issue of ad avoidance:

Charlene Weisler: Generally speaking, what percentage of ads are avoided?

Ashwin Navin: On major networks during prime time, we have found that as much as 45% of ads are not being viewed because of ad skipping. This will be a big theme for next year: What shows, genres and dayparts are most susceptible to ad avoidance.



Weisler: What types of shows are more susceptible to ad skipping?

Navin: Strong themes are emerging from the data. Daytime versus prime time, news, sports, comedy, live, debates — interesting trends are emerging that will drive media spend in the future.

Daytime soaps and news, family/kids programming are generally consumed live, as are sports and news of course.

The challenges are in dramas, especially in the first two seasons of a new show as the audience develops. There is more cross-platform viewing and time shifting, and therefore ad skipping. But should that drama become more popular over time, and as it becomes a water-cooler conversation topic, live viewership starts to build as viewers are more concerned about spoiler alerts. By season five of a good show, the live audience grows significantly.

Weisler: How do you see ads performing across platforms with your data?

Navin: Most of our clients are advertisers. Our data typically helps prove that TV advertising by itself reaches the most people with a story that builds brand awareness.

With the addition of digital advertising reaching the same audience on TV, we see that 1+1=3. When someone has seen the brand on both TV and digital, there is dramatically more brand recall, engagement and conversion. Our data helps segment the audience between TV exposed and unexplored, and then makes these segments addressable with the right strategy.

Weisler: How do you keep ahead of the data trends?

Navin: First and foremost, we are a company with an engineering focus. We have about three engineers for every one salesperson, and that ratio works really well for keeping our innovation engine running strong. We can keep pushing the envelope as to what is possible, and a singular focus on device-level data is helpful.

Device-level data will become the currency of the future because it is NOT tied to any particular content delivery mechanism.

To measure over-the-air TV 40 years ago, we used a meter. To measure 500 channels on cable TV, we shifted to cable set-top0box data.

Now, with OTT services, connected TV devices, DVRs, TV Everywhere apps, traditional measurement won’t suffice. Content recognition across connected devices generates data that much more accurately describes the highly fragmented media landscape we live in today. It also becomes the foundation for highly precise audience segmentation, as well as deterministic attribution models.

Weisler: Where do you see the media industry going in the next five years?

Navin: We absolutely believe that the consumer landscape will be much more fragmented in the future than it is today. Consumers have absolute control over their media, and fragmentation is the new normal.

The measurement challenge will be more pronounced, and the methodology surrounding C3 viewership, with audiences described by age and gender brackets will start to feel inadequate. Media will be described much more precisely in the future, and TV advertising will be priced on a performance basis across every screen the consumer has available to consume video.

3 comments about "The Secrets Of Ad Avoidance: Q&A With Samba's Ashwin Navin".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, September 7, 2016 at 5:27 p.m.

    Interesting interview, Charlene, and good questions as usual. Regarding the primetime TV ad skipping rate---I assume that this refers to the broadcast TV networks---wether or not "as much as 45%" of the commercials are "skipped" or zapped, is really not a problem for advertisers---unless it becomes much higher---like 75%, which is unlikely. The reason is that they are being charged only for those occasions when the ad is on the screen and, of course, is played from start to finish. Also, most of the avoidance that is referred to relates to DVR fast forwarding past ads or editing them out but we should note that comparable DVR delayed usage rates for most other forms of "linear TV" are very much lower than in prime so this is not a "TV" finding but represents only one kind of TV.

    As for whether TV audiences will continue to fragment, of course the answer is yes as more channels and "platforms" will cause this. Does that mean that TV advertising--all or most of it----will be priced on a " performance"( sales? ) basis? Not likely, in my opinion.

  2. Charlene Weisler from Writer, Media Consultant:, September 8, 2016 at 10:48 a.m.

    Hi Ed, Thank you - you make an interesting point. I would think that 45% is high but I also think that as DVR fast forwarding is prevented in playback it is possible that ad avoidance will be harder to, as they say, avoid.

  3. John Grono from GAP Research, September 8, 2016 at 7:42 p.m.

    Also, depending on the type of TV metering used, skipping ads in playback mode may not count to the TV ratings.   If audio-matching is used (matched to the original broadcast reference signal), then when when someone skips through a programme on their DVR the audio is either muted or garbled meaning that it cannot be matched to the reference signal.

    To give a simple example of the maths.   Let's say 1 million people are watching a one hour programme live and are glued to their sets and not one of them changes channel - the average minute audience (the rating) would be 1 million.

    But let's say there is another 1 million people who record the programme and also love the programme and are glued to the CONTENT only.   For simplicty let's also say there are three x five-minute ad-breaks that every one of them fast forwards through.   This group of viewers would have watched 100% of three-quarters of the programme so would only count as 750k.   So the 'Live' rating would be 1m, and the consolidsated rating (i.e. live + playback) would be 1.75m.

    In essence a big chunk of the 'as much as' 45% of people have already been excluded.   [Of course TV ratings only count presence and not attention or liking - that is, it is more of an Opportunity-To-See metric rather than a Likelihood-To-See metric].

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