Roku Touts Flexibility to Woo Ad Dollars From Linear to Streaming

Platform kicks off virtual NewFronts by unveiling new ad unit


Key Insight:

Roku is putting its updated ad platform, OneView, at the center of an upfront pitch that emphasizes the flexibility of over-the-top (OTT) marketing.

With the coronavirus pandemic still raging and TV consumption habits changing, one of the industry’s leading streaming platforms is doing all it can to convince advertisers to shift budgets out of linear TV and into OTT.

“Flexibility, precision and ROI matter more for a marketer than they ever did before,” Alison Levin, vp of ad sales at Roku, told Adweek prior to Roku’s NewFronts presentation.

Roku, which held its virtual NewFronts presentation today, is touting its Agile Investment Plan, a suite of offerings exclusively available through the upfront.

Part of that offering includes incremental reach guarantees and daily frequency management, which are only available through the OneView platform.

“We’re so confident and so sure of the incremental reach that we can give a client, that we’re allowing them to only buy based on incremental reach; and if they hit households that have also seen their linear ad, they simply don’t pay for it,” said Levin.

Levin added that daily frequency management, which allows advertisers to avoid inundating viewers with the same ad, is available for all media, not just Roku’s footprint of roughly 40 million households.

Roku has been building out its platform as it gears up for upfront season. After introducing OneView in May, the streaming platform started a shopper data program with Kroger and added 30 new channels to Roku Channel, its free, ad-supported streaming service.

Roku has also introduced a new ad format: sponsored pause breaks. Similar to Hulu’ pause ads, these ads appear when content on the Roku Channel has been paused.

Roku Channel is also offering proportional pricing for 15-, 30- and 60-second spots, something Levin said has historically been a challenge for linear buyers moving into OTT.

Given the uncertainty around the pandemic, Roku is pitching potential clients free add-ons that offer more control over when and where their ads run. The company is offering interactive overlays for both linear and streaming ads that allow a brand to share different messages to different regions. Roku will also pull ads in any ZIP code within 24 hours if, for instance, a brand needs to adapt to changing stay-at-home orders.

The streaming platform also introduced its version of YouTube Select, called Roku Reserve. Only available through the upfront, it allows advertisers to buy the top 1% of channels on Roku’s platform.

The pandemic, which has forced advertisers to pull back spending, has dramatically impacted upfront season. The ANA has called for a “transformative” shift to the media ecosystem while the uptick in streaming has made connected TV a more attractive medium for marketers.

“We do believe that buying in an automated fashion and having one place to look at all your reporting is the future. Just like we’re helping brands out of linear and into OTT, we’re doing the same in programmatic, and the OneView relaunch has been really embraced by the ad community as a future of OTT buying,” Levin said.

@andrewblustein Andrew Blustein is a programmatic reporter at Adweek.