IPG Takes Minority Stake In Samba TV To Better Understand Viewing Habits

ipg2On Monday, Interpublic Group snapped up a minority stake in Samba TV, a startup that offers TV analytics and attribution tools. IPG did not disclose the value of its investment.

IPG Media Lab initiated the relationship and managed the integration of Samba TV’s data and tools with IPG Mediabrands’ Audience Measurement Platform.

“IPG, like every other major holding company, has a huge investment in TV dollars, and they also have a huge amount of investment in digital dollars,” Ashwin Navin, Samba TV’s CEO, told AdExchanger. “This investment is a sign that these two worlds are going to come together and have a similar set of metrics to measure the effectiveness of a media buy.”

“It speaks to a high degree of demand for cross-screen and cross-platform data,” he added. “We have linear TV viewership data that we’ve aggregated and brought online, so that it can be viewed adjacent to online media data. We bring linear television and digital media into the same measurement vocabulary.”

Samba TV — formerly Flingo — has raised $8.2 million in venture funding to date. The firm is a “smart TV apps publishing and advertising company” whose tech is currently available on more than 36 million screens in 118 countries.

The firm’s tech plugs into a TV or set-top box to do real-time and time-shifted onscreen content recognition. Samba TV also monitors which types of content viewers interact with online – for instance, it accesses IMDb metadata. Viewers can interact with their chosen programs on social media, share options and receive notifications about upcoming seasons.

Samba TV says it can monitor which programs consumers are watching and on which device they’re consuming content. The company can also determine when viewers are tuned out during advertisements – if they’re channel-flipping during commercial breaks, for example – which helps advertisers inform and optimize media buys.

That kind of viewer insight is becoming increasingly important to advertisers, according to Chad Stoller, a managing partner at IPG Media Lab.

“We’re always looking for new sources of data that give us better buying intelligence,” Stoller said. “As television moves into programmatic marketplaces, we believe that having a good understanding of – and new sources of – data provides us with insights that let us buy better.”

As an example of how IPG will leverage Samba TV’s data to help its advertising clients, Stoller pointed to real-time campaigning.

There are two angles to IPG’s investment in Samba TV, he explained. One is on the intelligence side, and the other is from a media perspective.

“We can use Samba TV to roadblock all the attention inside a home,” he said. “If you have a television show that’s running, and a car advertisement appears on screen, you can basically take over any of the devices in that home in terms of buying up the ad inventory.”

IPG Mediabrands’ investment in Samba TV speaks to a broader industry trend – the growing adoption of connected TVs and an uptick in streaming content.

According to research from the IAB that explores TV’s changing landscape, also out Monday, one-third of adults in the US own a connected TV and one-third of connected TV owners stream video daily. Many spend 50% or more of their TV viewing time on digital programming. Seventy-eight percent of adults in the US use a separate device while watching traditional TV.

With more than a third of connected TV owners streaming more video on their TVs compared to a year ago, advertisers and agencies are hastening their efforts to track and target audiences across screens.

IPG’s minority stake in Samba TV follows a similar move into data and analytics – its investment in mobile measurement firm Placed last Fall.

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