Roku offers valuable real estate to brands – what marketers need to know

Published: May 03, 2023

min read

It is the month of May and the time for NewFronts and all the big brands are out there to flex their muscles and tell the world of advertisers what juicy promises they have for the future.

It’s Roku’s turn.

The streaming giant had some big announcements to make.

The first was that Roku was giving brands the opportunity to advertise on its Home Screen, in its original content and even its screen saver! Roku announced their screensaver “Roku City,” which floats a cityscape on the screen while idle, will be open to brands. Earlier, the city screen saver would make recommendations on what content to stream next, now it will feature brands also.

Roku said that it would feature McDonald’s brand as part of the artwork, this summer. McDonald’s is its first brand partner on the new ad offering on the screensaver which, Roku said, is used by nearly 40 million homes.

Roku also announced that brands would be able to host content in places like the Home & Garden and Sports experiences which curate content from regular TV on the Roku Home Screen. So when a user searches, they can see a featured collection that’s “presented by” an ad partner.

The next big thing was that they would use contextual AI to run ads automatically right next to the most relevant moments in shows and movies. Roku said that it would have its new artificial intelligence capability search its entire library looking for iconic plot moments that match a brand’s message and its ads there in real time. Marketers and brands will have to tell Roku the theme of their campaigns ahead of time, and AI would do the rest – match the campaign with key moments.

Marketers and streaming tv

It certainly looks like streaming TV is where the bucks are at, with everyone trying to get brands in on where the action is. And Roku is no different.

Precise targeting is possible, which brings with it better engagement with audiences. And marketers can measure the effectiveness of their campaigns easily.

Gen Z and Millennials are all about streaming tv. Gen Z doesn’t even know cable or know any different. So advertisers and brands do well to engage this generation through strategically placed marketing messaging.

All these options that Roku is coming up with are great for marketers and brands. Whether it is hosting a segment (like Walmart and Home and Garden) or sitting on the screen saver, right there for users to see, they are all great places to be for brands and marketers. Brands can pick and choose where they want to be for the highest level of engagement and resonance that can be created with audiences.

With AI in the mix, it just takes things to a whole different level. For brands to be able to match the messages in their campaigns, with key moments in the content that is being streamed, is truly taking things to a higher league.

Brands need to be careful to create truly outstanding content that will get the attention of someone watching a show or movie. It has to be tastefully done, without a doubt.

On the flip side, will users find this kind of advertising that shows up right in the middle of whatever it is they are watching, distracting or intrusive?

My guess is that they have to learn to accept it. Roku must learn to balance the right balance of ads and content. How much is too much? They mustn’t lose subscribers in the bargain.

But will they?

After all, the future is very likely to be free streaming services that are fully ad-supported. It is coming! Coming, really soon!


Sarah Johnson

Sarah is an analytical marketing expert with a passion for data-driven insights. She has a keen eye for detail and a talent for turning complex information into actionable strategies. In her free time, she enjoys yoga, travel, and trying out new recipes in the kitchen.


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