NewFronts Briefing: Samsung, Condé Nast, Roku focus presentations on new ad formats and category-specific inventory

Day two of the IAB’s annual four-day NewFronts featured presentations from Samsung, Condé Nast and Roku, with onstage pitches to marketers highlighting new ad formats and inventory in categories like sports, news, lifestyle and games, as well as AI capabilities and partnerships with companies ranging from news publishers to demand-side platforms.

The key details:

  • Samsung pitched new ad formats, measurement options for advertisers, its growing FAST channel, AI capabilities, and news ad inventory on mobile devices
  • Condé Nast’s presentation focused on its audience reach across specific content categories, live and vertical video on social platforms
  • Roku talked up its home screen ads, a new hub for Olympics coverage and a partnership with The Trade Desk

Samsung pitches new ad formats and inventory, AI capabilities

The connected TV portion of Samsung’s NewFronts pitch centered on new ad formats and measurement options for advertisers.

The smart TV maker and CTV platform owner introduced an ad format for its free, ad-supported streaming TV service, Samsung TV Plus. Called Game Breaks, the format replaces a standard ad pod with a single interactive spot that will prompt viewers to play a trivia game until their show resumes. Advertisers will be able to sponsor the trivia games, though Samsung is still sorting out what the sponsorships will entail, such as whether to simply feature a sponsor’s logo or to bookend the game with 15-second ads, according to Michael Scott, vp and head of sales and operations at Samsung Ads. Samsung plans to offer impression guarantees to Game Break advertisers but has yet to start pitching exact prices to potential sponsors, he said.

On the other end of the ad spectrum, Samsung is updating its measurement capabilities. For starters, the company’s automatic content recognition (ACR) technology is now able to track the ads people watching on its smart TVs are exposed to across streaming. “Streaming apps, FAST services, everything not linear,” Scott said. Previously Samsung’s ACR technology only tracked traditional TV viewership, so now advertisers will be able to use it to gauge exposures and audience reach across traditional TV and streaming on Samsung’s smart TVs. Scott declined to say whether there are any streaming services that its ACR technology won’t be able to measure.

Samsung also added new capabilities to its Smart Outcomes portfolio of direct-response ad tools. These tools enable advertisers to measure app downloads, ad engagements and purchases against their ads. Smart Acquisition will effectively target ads promoting streaming apps to viewers most likely to install an app. And Samsung has developed a version of the same tool for mobile app advertisers to convert CTV viewers into downloading their mobile apps.

Samsung also talked up the growth of its free, ad-supported streaming TV service, Samsung TV Plus. While the company didn’t say how many viewers or households use the service, it claimed that the amount of time people spent watching the service has increased by 60% year over year, but without disclosing the actual watch time stat. It did provide hard numbers for Samsung TV Plus’s programming library, which comprises more than 2,600 channels internationally and nearly 500 in the U.S., according to Melissa Wasserman, head of marketing, Samsung Ads. And Takashi Nakano, senior director of content for Samsung TV Plus said the FAST service will double its programming library this year, with additions including content from the PGA Tour, Formula 1, TelevisaUnivision, Estrella Media, Mattel, Moonbug and Warner Music Group. —Tim Peterson

While acknowledging AI as an industry buzzword, execs with Samsung Ads still used it plenty during its pitch. Like other major tech giants, Samsung announced new ways machine learning can help advertisers and content providers to reach people on various devices and platforms. For example, a new “Smart Acquisitions” tool leverages Samsung data to find new users for content and ads. Another addition lets mobile app advertisers market audiences through connected TVs.

Samsung’s AI isn’t just about ads. Execs also touted how AI improves audio and video quality for Samsung TVs, enables features for Samsung refrigerators, optimizes Samsung washers and dryers and provides live language translation with Samsung smartphones. The company also showed a video for its rolling robot, Ballie, which was announced in January at its presentation at CES 2024. — Marty Swant

Later this year, Samsung plans to roll out new games that advertisers can sponsor, such as mobile game Rivals Arena, which gamers can access via a QR code. It will run interstitial ads, and advertisers can also sponsor co-branded games and backgrounds.

Starting next month, Samsung will open up news inventory to advertisers on its Samsung News app, which is pre-installed on Galaxy mobile devices. Display and video ad inventory around five editorial news sections, in partnership with Axios, CNN, Fortune and HuffPost. This summer, the Samsung News Galaxy mobile app will feature curated, real-time Olympics coverage, in partnership with the International Olympic Committee.

Condé Nast previews live and social video programming

Condé Nast’s pitch to marketers — as previewed in a previous Digiday interview with global CRO and president of U.S. revenue and international, Pamela Drucker Mann — targeted specific content categories like news, sports and lifestyle, with a focus on live and social video programming. 

The publisher announced it will expand live programming around major tentpoles like Vogue World and the Met Gala, and create 100 new pilots this year (as well as renew 235 original digital video series).

The publisher’s video content generated more than 20 billion views last year, a 41% year over year increase, according to the company. The Met Gala brought in 1.5 billion global video views across platforms, Drucker Mann said, while Vanity Fair’s coverage of the Oscars increased its viewership by 28% in 2024, with live minutes viewed up 190% from the previous year. Condé Nast brands have over 86.7 million total YouTube subscribers, up 12% over prior year. 

Craig Kostelic, chief business officer of global commercial revenue at Condé Nast, spotlighted a new marketplace the company is creating for advertisers to plan and buy branded social content, called Condé Nast Amplify Private Marketplace. Condé Nast is also growing its branded content distribution network to include Pinterest and NBCU’s streaming networks, in addition to expanding its partnerships with Reddit and YouTube.

“I want you to think about this as a similar construct to the programmatic marketplace that exists today in video and display. You have open exchange, and then you have premium private marketplace solutions that allow you to better control the contextual environment of your message. This solution will enable marketers to better compete for time and attention by being able to maximize reach and frequency while mitigating ad fatigue,” Kostelic said onstage.

This fall, Vogue will debut its own mobile-first platform “built around content, community and shopping,” said Anna Wintour, chief content officer of Condé Nast and global editorial director at Vogue. She didn’t share any more details on what this entailed.

Wintour noted that Condé Nast had merged its video teams across its editorial titles a few months ago. “It meant that our editors and our video makers would come together just as our global teams have come together and we could be much more flexible, much more creative and much more nimble. As a result, our video output has… increased,” she said onstage.

Condé Nast also announced a video content collaboration with Formula 1, and GQ’s global editorial director Will Welch highlighted a collaboration with ESPN to host an NBA Finals watch party livestream. 

Katie Drummond, Wired’s global editorial director, introduced a vertical video format called “Newsroom Originals,” which are hosted by Wired reporters. Wired recently formed a politics editorial team to cover elections and AI’s impact on politics. 

Roku updates home screen ads

In keeping with the theme of this year’s NewFronts — at least as it pertains to connected TV platform owners — Roku’s pitch centered around non-traditional ads appears on its home screen.

The company is updating its home-screen ads to include videos, including placements on its Roku City screensaver. The video ads on Roku’s home screen (the vertical banner beside the app menu) will start rolling out in June, Peter Hamilton, senior director of ad innovation at Roku, told Digiday, adding that Roku will sell the home screen video ads on a CPM basis.

Roku also introduced a new ad product called Showrooms, which are essentially interactive branded content hubs. And Roku seems primed to test the limits of home screen ad options. Roku president of media Charlie Collier teased a potential future ad format in which Roku would force viewers to sit through effectively a mid-roll ad when clicking from the Roku City screensaver to return to home screen.

Hamilton said the Showrooms are meant to be “a little bit different from content hubs in that they’re more like websites purpose-built for television.” Roku plans to design templates that will be tailored to specific advertiser verticals, such as retail and travel, he said. Any of Roku’s ad formats, including home screen Marquee ad, Roku City billboard ads and in-stream video ads, can be equipped to link to a Showroom experience.

The company will start testing the format — and viewers’ advertising tolerance — on Wednesday, Collier said. Roku has been doing user experience on the format being tested for the better part of this year and wants the ad to transition seamlessly between the Roku City experience to the home screen, Hamilton told Digiday. The company will test the format with a subset of users; Hamilton said an exact percentage is still being decided upon. Eventually, if Roku decides to roll out the format officially, it would look to reserve it for certain occasions, such as major events and TV moments, Hamilton said. Roku also still needs to determine whether to allow users to skip the ad or to run it as a non-skippable placement.

Beyond new ad formats — and a deal with NBCUniversal to create a sponsorable hub for the latter’s Olympics coverage via a slot on Roku’s home screen — Roku also announced new ways to buy and measure ads on its platform.

As Digiday previously reported, the company has signed a deal with demand-side platform The Trade Desk to use Roku’s audience data to target ads. It has also signed a deal with iSpot for advertisers to be able to measure their ads running on Roku’s platform. Through iSpot, advertisers will be able to track reach, frequency, ad exposure and outcomes for their campaigns running on Roku, according to Jay Askinasi, head of advertising at Roku. — Tim Peterson

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