Prabhvir Sahmey
Sep 14, 2023

Opinion: Smart TVs, streaming and advertising - how the web has transformed TV

Advertisers taking advantage of the benefits CTV offers are likely to be rewarded by their audiences, explains the author

Opinion: Smart TVs, streaming and advertising - how the web has transformed TV
On 1 August 1991, computer scientist Tim Berners Lee published the world’s first website from CERN, the home of numerous scientific breakthroughs such as the creation of antimatter. This particular breakthrough, however, has had a monumental impact on the way many of us live our day to day lives.
Initially only accessible through the PC, over the past 30+ years, we’ve seen dramatic changes not only in how we access the web, but what we use it for. Today, the majority (55%) of all website traffic comes from mobile phones and, while its number one use is the purpose Berners-Lee had in mind: finding information, we’ve developed far more use cases for his innovation since. 
More than half of internet users today (55%) use the web to keep in touch with friends and family, half (50%) use it to keep up to date with current events, and the same number use it to watch video content, including TV and movies. The emergence of Web 2.0 in the late 90s and early 2000s saw faster speeds and increased user interactions, which led to the web becoming a more engaging source of entertainment. These developments made way for the birth of a USD150 billion industry: OTT video entertainment. With it came CTV.
The web on the small screen
Netflix, YouTube and the other video entertainment websites which began to emerge in the mid 2000s have caused the lines between TV and the internet to blur irrevocably. In recent years, we’ve seen TVs become profoundly different from their predecessors to facilitate access to the internet services which began on the web. Initially, TV add-ons became available to provide viewers with access to OTT services, but today streaming sticks, consoles and set-top boxes are being abandoned for the smart TV. Smart TVs accounted for over 90% of the TVs shipped in India in 2022 according to Counterpoint Research.
The smart TVs on the market today guarantee easy and immediate access to services once bound to the PC. Users can take advantage of immense libraries of content, use apps and social networks and browse online in the most traditional sense. The smart TV has become the entertainment centre at the household level, with gaming, information, education and even sports and health services all on offer. All of this is available in a single operating system and within a few pushes of a button (or a request to a voice assistant).
The meaning of TV today
Services which first began as websites, and later became web applications before becoming apps for TV and mobile use, have completely transformed the TV landscape. Today, what we used to mean by TV - linear - doesn’t really apply any more. Connected TV (CTV) gives users access to the growing number of streaming services on offer, and even user-generated content (UGC) is becoming widely accessed through CTV. 
Emerging trends and formats within this ever expanding landscape means that audiences are constantly moving around. Free and ad-supported TV (FAST) services have experienced the most significant changes in recent months: our recent 'Is TV just TV?' global survey found that 78% of viewers now use AVOD and FAST services in addition to their SVOD subscriptions. Additionally, almost two-thirds have seen an improvement in the quality of free streaming content. FAST TV watchers today have access to bespoke and curated programming, which includes live sports, as well as lifestyle, comedy and drama based entertainment.
Targeted CTV advertising
The web’s impact on TV has not only revolutionised the content available to viewers; new and unique forms of advertising are available for brands to make use of in the smart TV environment as well. CTV advertising has very little in common with ads on linear TV. New formats and technologies are allowing advertisers to target segmented audiences with higher levels of accuracy.
Today, advertisers can reach viewers on Smart TVs as they navigate between the web-inspired applications in the CTV ecosystem with personalised content recommendations and more thanks to advanced targeting capabilities. Technologies such as ACR (Automatic Content Recognition) can help marketers gain a holistic view of the market and see which specific ads have reached particular smart TV owning households, helping them to connect with hard-to-reach viewers. Sophisticated tools such as ACR are complemented by the latest innovations in programmatic advertising, which make the advertiser experience simpler and more efficient, and the growing number of consumers opting to stream content primarily rather than watching broadcast TV. 
What’s more, advertisers taking advantage of the benefits CTV offers are likely to be rewarded by their audiences: the ‘Is TV just TV?’ study also revealed that brands that deliver advertising on demand are perceived as five times more modern and innovative, as well as three times more relevant, premium and unique by TV viewers.
32 years of innovation
Tim Berners-Lee likely could not imagine the far-reaching impacts his idea would have on the world of TV and TV advertising. His information retrieval system inspired the services that today entertain a huge number of households the world over. Advertisers should look to think big too when it comes to reaching key audiences with TV messages.
The author is senior director, Samsung Ads
Campaign India

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