The Picture is Clear with ACR Technology

The number of Smart TVs in Canadian households is rapidly growing, and the amount of TV viewership data potentially available via automatic content recognition (ACR) has risen accordingly. True to its name — ACR is a technology that can be used to identify what is playing on a TV by providing advertisers privacy-conscious, second-by-second feedback on ad performance, as well as glass level measurement on viewer activity across both the linear and Connected TV (CTV) ecosystem. IAB Canada member Samsung Ads understands that its customers take privacy very seriously and has built this technology into all of their Smart TVs as well as ensuring all of their products and offerings comply with applicable privacy laws, respect consumer choices, all while keeping consumer experience at the core of all offerings.   

IAB Canada sat down with Dave Pauk, Regional Sales Director of Samsung Ads Canada, to find out why he believes ACR data outperforms set-top box data. 

IAB Canada: What is the current and future state of set-top-box data? 

Samsung: Set-top box data has been in steady decline for the last several years, following in step with the exodus of pay TV households in Canada. In August 2021, a report by eMarketer forecasted that by 2022, only 48.9% of households in Canada will have pay TV. This is down from 75% in 2015 marking a massive and continuing trend of cable cord-cutting in Canada.     

Additionally, as linear viewing and set-top box usage decline, set-top boxes are no longer necessarily a representative sample of household viewing as linear viewers often skew to an older audience and do not capture the audience shifting to CTV viewing. To further validate this point, set-top box data often reports viewing that happened after the user has shut off the TV and not the set-top box. 

IABC: What is ACR technology and why does it matter? 

Samsung: ACR data is a highly effective mechanism that can provide down-to-the-second insights into viewership trends on Smart TVs across linear TV, OTT, CTV, and Gaming environments. ACR captures every pixel being passed back through the glass and allows for tracking TV consumption 1:1/ deterministically – i.e., with data points that are not modeled. Subject to our privacy policy and consumer choices, this gives us real-time insight into what that TV was exposed to – like channels, programs, or shows, linear ads, total time spent, and household reach and frequency – enabling advanced targeting, measurement, and viewership insights. With Canada’s largest unmodelled single-source, first party ACR dataset from over 4M Samsung Smart TVs representing 43% of all Smart TV households across the country, Samsung Ads is able to provide advertisers with unique viewer insights that can’t be replicated elsewhere- at scale. 

Unlike MVPD data flow, which stops at the set-top box and cannot track all viewership behavior, ACR data allows advertisers to better serve ads and enhance the viewing experience for consumers, subject to Samsung’s privacy policy and consumer choices.  

Finally, and most importantly, ACR data drives addressable advertising through CTV by offering the same levels of granularity in its targeting and measurement that we’ve become familiar with from the largest digital players with single-source deterministic first party data.  

IABC: As we look ahead, how should we be thinking about CTV and the data we are able to collect?

Samsung: As we look ahead, it’s critical to look at the shift in viewer behavior and rethink how to adjust your media strategy accordingly. 

Samsung Ads has developed thought leadership called the Rule of 40, which examines budget allocation recommendations for linear TV versus CTV . By analyzing ACR data from millions of hours of TV consumption, we created a model to measure the GRP delivery of network and cable TV schedules against linear-only and streaming-enabled audiences to find the point at which parity between the two groups can be attained. Our model revealed the need to allocate 40% of your budget to CTV to help maximize reach to highly valued audiences. If you’re not spending in that range on CTV, you’re missing a sizable portion of your target audience. 

The Rule of 40 reflects the idea that, while the number of people emerging on CTV is known, a corresponding shift in advertising investment hasn’t yet followed viewers to where and how they consume content. In this sense, the shift to CTV is reminiscent of the trajectory which advertisers took in making the transition to mobile. While audiences had already moved, advertisers were slow to shift dollars, until it got to the point where they had no choice but to invest in mobile advertising. 

As far as data goes, if you combine the number of TVs and the associated Canadian families using them, Samsung Ads’ ACR technology can help advertisers gain insight into what is happening at the glass level of our TVs, whether you’re watching content through your [gaming platform], streaming stick, PVR, or set-top box. 

In other words, it’s a privacy-conscious way to obtain insights into viewing behavior across linear, CTV, and OTT alike, providing advertisers opportunities to better understand a holistic view of a user’s consumption and behavior, subject to Samsung’s privacy policy and consumer choices. 

In summary, CTV can bring together a great consumer experience found on ACR data to deliver advertising results by highlighting key trends to reach high-value audiences. You’re potentially getting one of the biggest screens in the household, a non-skippable full-screen, co-viewing experience for your advertising, with the accuracy and granularity of targeting and data. 

If you would like to join the CTV conversation, please reach out to