I'm a designer.

I design Ad Platform at Samsung.

What is Samsung Ads

Samsung Ads is an advertising platform that helps Samsung Smart TV users discover relevant content and brands, while providing advertisers the opportunity to amplify their brand messaging to the right audience across Smart TV, mobile and desktop.

At Samsung Ads, our goal is to create delightful ad experience for TV users and discover new opportunities for the advertising industry. In the past two years and a half, I designed various products, including a series of native ad formats and placements on Smart TV and mobile devices, Ad Simulator, Campaign Manager, Samsung Analytics, and Ad Video Player.

How I Design

Working on a lean team, I am taking the lead role in design with multiple hats on my head. My duty covers the end-to-end design process, from user research to ideation, create flowcharts and sketches, build rapid prototypes, conduct usability testing, and give presentations to stakeholders.

Step 1: research and define the problem

Surrounded by most TV users in global TV market and powered by deep analytics, my design is supported by first-hand opinions from our users and advertisers, with extensive market research and device usage data.

People don’t hate ads. They hate bad ads. We conducted a series of studies on people’s sentiment and behavior on watching ads. The results told us that people would show a positive attitude and see more ads under two conditions: 1) the ad is relevant to their interest, 2) the ad is not breaking what they intend to do.

We also learned the challenges that advertisers are facing. Since the digital era arrived, TV commercials have become less effective because people spend less time on cable TV. As people getting more on-the-top services, traditional in-stream commercials are hard to get to the audience.

User Study and Marketing Research

Step 2: ideation and exploration

Design is a team sport. We gather information from many people who are involved, such as TV users, advertisers, designers, product managers, engineers, market researchers, sales and all other stakeholders. We focus on those most affected, write use cases and scenarios, followed by concept generation in whiteboard session.

Whiteboards and Paper Sketches

Step 3: refine design through sketches

Sketches are necessary to clarify my thoughts and help me pay attention to the details. At the end of the day, two types of design documentation will be created to effectively communicate with engineers. Wireflow is a design spec that combines wireframe with a simplified flowchart to represent user interactions. Beyond the wireflow, a visual spec will reflect the design choices for layouts, colors, typography, iconography, etc.

Flowcharts, Wireframes, Mockups

Step 4: prototype and storytelling

A prototype is essential for resolving usability issues before sinking lots of time and money into the final product. My prototype methods vary from paper to digital, from static to interactive. (Screenshots are partially blurred for confidential considerations.)

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a prototype is worth a thousand pictures. During presentations, a prototype makes storytelling more informative and persuasive to stakeholders.

Paper and Digital Prototype

Step 5: testing and gathering feedback

My approach of testing: define testing goals, choose the right test, create user tasks, prepare research plan document, conduct the test, and write a report that covers research method, findings, and design recommendations. (Screenshots are partially blurred for confidential considerations.)

Usability Testing Results

Step 0: iteration and improvement

Design is fundamentally an exploratory approach. It can never reach the goal in a single attempt. In each iteration, the design is moving closer to the shore as in a self-correcting process.

Launched Products

Ad Placements on TV

So far, our team has launched a set of ad placements across TV model years. Samsung ads platform supports various ad formats, e.g., carousel banners, autoplay video ads, home screen ads, with companion click-actions, such as click-to-video, click-to-app, click-to-microsite, click-to-web, etc.

Ad in Universal Guide on TV 2018

Video Ad in App Store on TV 2017

Video Ad in Apps Panel on TV 2016

Video Ad in home screen on TV 2016

Ad in home screen on TV 2015

Campaign Manager

Campaign Manager is a powerful tool for ads team to schedule campaigns, target the right audience, monitor impressions, engagement and demographics of the users who click on ads. (Screenshots are omitted for confidential considerations.)

Samsung Analytics

Samsung Analytics is an integrated, real-time measurement and marketing analytics tool that provides insights into TV media consumption. It helps content owners and media buyers understand how media – content and advertising – is being consumed on TV, across various demographics and audience segments. (Screenshots are omitted for confidential considerations.)

Ad Video Player

As an enhancement of existing ad video player, the redesign added more click-to-options during playback and end card to increase user engagement with video ads, as well as a diversified differentiator in product offering, compared to linear ad or other forms of ad delivery.

Ad Video Player

Video End Card

Challenges and Accomplishments

Balance Between UX and Business

The advertising industry is complicated for its rules and regulations. Designing ads platform is even more complicated for seeking the balance between user experience and business goals. As a designer for an ad platform, I always believe that UX and advertising shouldn't and don't have to be enemies. My design is driven by the philosophy that good design is good business which leads to ad formats and placements to be native, non-intrusive and not breaking the user experience. Good ads can be useful and enjoyable to the users while bringing more profits to the advertisers.

On the other side, we helped advertisers to maximize brand engagement to drive useful results. In 2017, program tune-in was improved as more than doubled viewership (200%+lift) of a Summer 2017 premiere episode from a top broadcast network. Also, we facilitated 10x greater usage of a subscription video streaming app among those exposed to Samsung Ads native and cross-device experiences. Last but not least, we improved visits to an automotive brand site by 4.4x, adding incremental reach and efficiency to TV and digital advertising.

Design Culture Evangelism

Because design has historically been equated with aesthetics and craft, designers have been celebrated as artistic and savants. It is a common situation that designers are experiencing misunderstanding of design from people across functions at work. As a designer, I have been spending more time explaining what design is than actually doing it.

Instead of adding cosmetic layers, design is a crucial cognitive ability to solve people’s problems given the knowledge of human conditions and human needs. In the real world of business, design should be driving product innovation instead of being subsidiary and driven by technology or business. Design can't be extra; it needs to be a core competence.

I evangelize design thinking and establish design process in 3 ways: promote the vision of design in day-to-day work; give design talks to product managers, engineers and more; invite people to be participants of my user research and usability testing. Since I joined the team, noticeable changes have happened as collaboration flow and product development process have been reshaped with design thinking incorporated. People start to think of design differently.

There is no longer any real distinction between business strategy and the design of the user experience. Although changing workflow and changing people's mind is tough, I believe it is worth making the effort to release the power of design and make a meaningful impact.