Samsung Creates European Services Division Under Newly Promoted SVP Alex Hole

Dan Meier 17 April, 2024 

Samsung this morning announced the promotion of Alex Hole to SVP and General Manager of the European Services business. Hole will lead the newly combined services division, which brings together the advertising, partnerships and product units, including Samsung’s gaming and streaming offerings.

Alex Hole joined Samsung in 2017 to head up Samsung’s European Ads business, which has since expanded into 16 markets across Europe, and is due to launch in the Middle East this year. He also oversaw the development of Samsung TV Plus, the free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) service that now has over 1,000 channels, including 100 in the UK.

At Samsung’s new London office, Hole tells VideoWeek that the company is looking to educate advertisers and agencies on the engagement its services garner across its consumer-facing products. “This is a relatively new kind of media platform for many advertisers,” he says. “And that’s why we’re spending a lot of time around our insights and our data, to inform them of what audiences are doing on our devices.”

Growing FAST

The company says 60 percent of consumers in the EU5 have at least one Samsung device, with 60 million Samsung TVs across Europe. “Our TV sets had seven billion app opens in the second half of last year,” adds Hole. “So we feel that we’re creating quite a meaningful footprint in terms of how we’re shaping the media landscape, particularly on TVs.”

That expansion is largely driven by the rise of FAST viewing in Europe; Samsung TV Plus viewing time has grown by 60 percent YoY, according to the company, and has developed content partnerships with major broadcasters, content owners and sports associations.

“One of the many reasons we launched Samsung TV Plus was that we recognised – particularly in this economic climate – that people were starting to analyse how much they spend on subscription services,” says Hole. “We recognised some time ago that there was a real opportunity to build a service that was free, zero transaction. And we’ve been building that out over the last four or five years in Europe.”

Another contributor to Samsung TV usage is the growth of cloud gaming, accessible via Samsung’s Gaming Hub. Alongside games from major platforms, such as Xbox and Luna, the service offers advertising opportunities to reach gaming audiences.

“I personally think culturally we’re moving gaming away from a box under the TV into a more casual gaming environment,” comments Hole. “It may be with your family, or you may be tempted to use your screen time – rather than going into traditional TV content – to use your TV in the main home to start gaming.”

And the business is also focused on discoverability, with Samsung’s Universal Guide enabling users to search content across the TV ecosystem. Hole highlights the role discoverability plays in Samsung’s relationship to both users and the company’s content partners. “First and foremost it’s around the personalisation of recommendations based on your viewing behaviour,” he says. “Then secondly, we also work very closely with partners to ensure that they surface appropriate programming or content that they have available at that particular time.”

Servicing the ad industry

By bringing those services together, the newly merged entity is looking to provide advertisers the insights it can derive from Samsung’s position as an original equipment manufacturer (OEM). This includes automatic content recognition (ACR) data, device-level data, and data from plugged-in devices via HDMI, such as games consoles or TV sticks.

“We’ve got such a wealth of first-party data and insight, you combine that with what we see across streaming, plus gaming, plus the other apps that sit on the TV, and we’ve got a meaningful proposition around the Samsung Services launch,” says Hole.

Signalling that desire to engage with the industry, Samsung recently joined Origin, ISBA’s cross-media measurement initiative. And Hole adds that the company is in dialogue with other similar measurement ventures. He also notes that the business is “built around privacy”; Samsung TV Plus has its own consent management platorm, allowing users to see the company’s data partners and opt in or out of sharing their data.

“Our advertising division can use that data and that insight to connect advertisers to the audiences that are created by the services,” says Hole. “And we think we’re essentially building a genuinely integrated media experience, and we have a significant voice to play in that ecosystem.”

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