Roku puts its programmatic platform at center of NewFronts pitch
Brands looking to buy Roku’s original content channel programmatically will no longer be able to do so through third-party platforms. Moving forward, Roku Channel will be available to be purchased programmatically only through the streamer's own demand-side platform.
This comes as the streaming giant works to make its original content offering more attractive to advertisers: it acquired now defunct Quibi’s programming catalog as well as the library of “This Old House.” By limiting the ability for brands to buy inventory in the channel outside of Roku, the company is looking to leverage and differentiate its OneView demand-side platform, which was born out of it acquisition of Dataxu. Roku inventory from its other programming partners will still be available to be bought through third-party DSPs.
Roku has also beefed up its programmatic offering through the recent acquisition of Nielsen’s Advanced Video Advertising measurement unit, which will allow OneView to provide Nielsen reach and frequency reporting by age and gender across linear TV, streaming TV, desktop and mobile. This means upfront advertisers in OneView will get to see where audiences overlap across devices, channels and publishers on their plan, says Louqman Parampath, VP, product management, Roku.
Roku, which ended 2020 with 51.2 million active user households, heads into the NewFronts this year with a mission to “right-size” marketers’ streaming budgets, says Kristina Shepard, national brand sales lead, Roku.
One way it wants to do this is by getting a slice of the ad pie around what have historically been big linear TV events such as the Super Bowl, March Madness or the Grammy Awards. As these tentpole events see ratings decline on linear TV, Roku is making the case that more of the viewing of these events are happening in streaming and that advertisers can extend the campaigns they are running on traditional TV by shifting some of those dollars. “Don’t buy more spots than you have to on linear because you will max out your reach; take the rest of the budget to amplify on Roku,” Shepard says.
Roku, which will kick off the IAB-hosted (virtual) NewFronts on Monday, comes to the marketplace amid a heated battle with Google’s YouTube. Roku said last week that it may lose YouTube TV due to anti-competitive demands, which the company alleges includes favoring YouTube and YouTube TV apps over other apps.
One area Roku is expected to try to take a bigger foothold in is search, says Noah Mallin, chief of brand strategy, IMGN Media. “I would almost look at them as being more synonymous with Google, because what they are leveraging now is how people are searching for content on the platform,” he says. As a neutral platform, Mallin says, Roku is able to cut across content tastes and not just be a recommendation engine.
“A huge issue right now in streaming is the discovery piece; Roku can leverage search and the discovery part of the platform and being adjacent to that with an ad is attractive because there is high intention,” Mallin says.
Mallin says he can see Roku putting together a consumer map that shows the types of consumers who search for different types of programming, which would be an interesting data point for brands to layer on types of psychographics.