Roku guarantees brands will appear in top 1 percent of premium video in NewFront ad deal
Roku was the first streaming video player to host a virtual NewFront on Monday, leading off the online-only event that is set to run through this week by highlighting a new premium advertising tier called Roku Reserve—which, it claims, offers brands assurances that their commercials will run in only top-shelf video programs.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau puts on the NewFront showcase every year as a digital answer to the TV upfronts, which is when traditional broadcasters present their programming to brands. The NewFronts are for the increasingly popular internet video companies like Roku, YouTube and Hulu to make their best pitch to brands.
Roku's presentation was started streaming at noon on Monday to promote new offerings like Roku Reserve. “We’ve gone deep into the data to identify the channels on Roku that attract the most clicks, the most visits and the most streaming hours,” a Roku spokeswoman said in an email to Ad Age, ahead of the NewFront. “Only available in the Upfront, Roku Reserve allows advertisers to buy the top 1 percent of channels on our platform with all the proven benefits of audience data.”
Roku Reserve gives the company a product that can go head-to-head with offerings like YouTube Select and Facebook Reserve. Google owns YouTube and YouTube Select also gives brands assurances that ads will only appear in the upper echelon of content. Facebook Reserve makes the same commitment for the social network.
Roku is an internet-connected video player that hosts apps from hundreds of digital video publishers. Roku did not spell out all the content that makes it into the 1 percent that it considers the best. However, Roku did say the category includes The Roku Channel, which features Hollywood movies and shows curated by the company.
In May, Roku reported it had 40 million subscribers and generated $232.6 million in “platform revenue” in the first quarter, which mostly comes from advertising. Platform revenue grew 73 percent year over year.
Roku competes with other connected TV giants like Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and YouTube.
The company is using the NewFront to promote its growing ad products that connect brands to audiences that are increasingly switching from linear TV to internet viewing. As the switch is happening, however, brands are concerned about growing issues of digital ad fraud in connected TV.
Just last week, a report from DoubleVerify, a company that analyzes internet traffic for advertisers, found a 161 percent increase in fraudulent traffic across connected TV from January to April this year, compared to last year. DoubleVerify also said it detected more than 500 fraudulent connected TV apps in the first quarter of this year.
It is that type of activity that has many brands looking for quality assurances from platforms like Roku.
Roku has also been touting its growing data and targeting capabilities, developed through acquisitions like Dataxu.
Roku is using technology to help brands manage connected TV campaigns. Brands are interested in using streaming TV to reach new households and avoid serving the same messages to the same families they reach on TV.
With the NewFront sales pitch, Roku has been guaranteeing brands only pay for “unduplicated reach.”
Roku, like other streaming players, also is emphasizing flexibility. With uncertainty around the economy and the coronavirus pandemic, advertisers have been more reluctant to commit to high-dollar ad deals without the ability to alter the terms of the campaigns.
“All advertisers can swap lines of business within their upfront commitment at no penalty,” Roku said in its NewFront announcement on Monday.