Roku touts its new ad products, including an AI that matches campaigns to TV moments
In Roku’s recent quarter, the company posted better-than-expected revenue of $741 million, but worried investors with its warning of an uncertain ad market and declining average revenue per user. Today, at the IAB NewFronts, the streaming media company introduced its latest ad products to potentially help it address the latter, at least. These included new opportunities to advertise on Roku’s Home Screen, within its original content, and even in its screensaver, among other things. It also hyped its use of contextual AI for automatically running ads right next to the most relevant moments in shows and movies on The Roku Channel.
The company explained that its new artificial intelligence capability searches across the Roku library for “iconic plot moments” that would match a brand’s message and place their ads in real time. To work, marketers will first tell Roku their campaign’s theme. The AI searches the library to match the campaign with key moments. For example, when Tim Gunn says “make it work” in “Project Runway,” an apparel brand could insert its message.
Roku also announced a new slate of Roku Originals, which will include an entrepreneurship docuseries, “Side Hustlers,” produced by Hello Sunshine — Reese Witherspoon’s media company that sold in 2021 for $900 million to Candle Media, the company run by former Disney execs Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs, which now has its hand in numerous pies across the streaming landscape. Digital bank Ally was also involved in this production that focuses on people turning their side hustle into their main business.
Other new Originals arriving this year include “Celebrity Family Cook Off,” a series executive produced by Sofia Vergara and hosted by Manolo Gonzalez Vergara and “Carpe DM with Juanpa,” which will feature social media star Juanpa Zurita, among others. Roku said it’s also renewing “The Great American Baking Show,” featuring Paul Hollywood, Prue Leith, Ellie Kemper and Zach Cherry and “Honest Renovations,” featuring Jessica Alba and Lizzy Mathis.
The company claimed its Originals were delivering better than cable, and even better than broadcast audiences every day.
The streaming company additionally used its time to pitch marketers about how to reach its now 71.6 million active accounts on its service via new ad products and placements.
The pitch, delivered by Roku Media President Charlie Collier, touted Roku’s reach in the U.S.
“Americans spend more time on Roku than any other TV platform, which means they spend more time here with Netflix and Hulu and Disney+ and even more time streaming CBS, NBC ABC, and Fox,” Collier told the audience. “Think about this: 50% of all Super Bowl streaming took place on Roku this year,” he added.
During the event, Roku shared some of its latest ad deals. It noted that its screensaver “Roku City,” which floats a cityscape on the TV screen while the TV is idle, will open up to brands. While before, the city screensaver would point users to suggested content to stream, it will now be able to feature other brands, as well. This summer, it will feature McDonald’s brand as part of the artwork, for instance, as its first brand partner on the new ad offering. The screensaver is used by nearly 40 million homes, Roku said.
The company also introduced new discovery experiences that allow brands to host content in areas like Home & Garden and Sports experiences that curate content from across TV on the Roku Home Screen. Now, when users turn to Roku search, they may see a featured collection that’s “presented by” an ad partner — for example, Walmart was shown “presenting” the Home & Garden collection.
Roku also shared that Instacart was its latest Commerce+ partner, joining others like Walmart, Best Buy, Cox Automotive, DoorDash, Kroger and more on its shoppable ads and other retailer-focused initiatives.
Commerce+ is designed to shorten the path to purchase for consumers, Roku explained.
For example, Wendy’s offered Roku users $5 off powered by DoorDash via a Home Screen ad, then used DoorDash data to help measure the impact of their ad spend. The campaign grew Wendy’s order size mainly among new and lapsed users and delivered a positive return on investment many times over, the company said.
Other news for marketers included Roku’s introduction of a Primetime Reach Guarantee, which it claimed to be a “first” in streaming. Essentially, the guarantee commits to brands they’ll be able to reach more TV households in primetime than the average program airing on a top-five cable channel on traditional TV.
“We’re uniquely positioned to make brands unmissable in TV because Roku is not fighting for turf in streaming—we are the turf,” said Alison Levin, Roku’s vice president of Ad Revenue and Marketing Solutions, in a press release. “We’re bringing the entire power of the platform, not just the pieces, to give marketers more of the scale, delight, and flexibility that they love in TV.”