Magna Strikes Deal With Roku, Shifting More Ad Dollars Out Of Linear TV Heading Into Upfronts

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In Magna's latest effort to move advertisers' money out of traditional TV, the media-buying arm of Interpublic Group struck a deal with Roku to help clients reach audiences who have shifted their TV viewing to over-the-top devices.

As linear TV ratings continue to decline, with people watching content on a delayed basis and a variety of devices, David Cohen, president-North America, Magna, said he is constantly looking for other ad outlets beyond linear TV.

Through the deal, Magna clients, who include Coca-Cola, BMW and MillerCoors, will be able to more precisely target audiences on the platform using custom data segments created by Magna, Mr. Cohen said. This is the first time Roku will allow an agency to use custom data segments to execute a buy, he said, rather than relying on third-party data.

Magna will also gain access to Roku data to help better understand the OTT marketplace while planning media buys. And Roku will allow Magna to tag all campaigns with Nielsen Digital Ad Ratings (DAR) to then combine viewing on TV and Roku for a more holistic picture, Mr. Cohen said.

Magna's investment is also a signal to the industry that OTT is relevant, said Scott Rosenberg, VP-advertising and audience development, Roku. While Roku has worked with Magna clients on an account level, Mr. Rosenberg said the commitment on an agency level is important and shows that Magna is following the TV viewer to new mediums.

Roku has 13 million active accounts.

There will also be some cost savings, as well as the ability for clients to run custom brand impact and ROI studies. Roku inventory will also be available to be bought programmatically for Magna clients, which hadn't been available previously.

Mr. Cohen declined to provide financials for the deal, which will run through the end of the year.

The Roku deal is the first in a series of plans by Magna heading into the TV upfronts to continue to shift dollars out of traditional TV and into alternative video platforms.

During the 2016 TV upfronts, Magna committed to spending at least $250 million on Google Preferred, which offers a premium ad inventory on YouTube. Those ad dollars were expected to come out of its clients' TV ad budgets.

Mr. Cohen said he has been "very pleased with the progress made since announcing the deal," adding that they have many clients in the market and are encouraged by the results.