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Roku Is Opening Its City Skylines to Advertisers

GBM Insights

  • The famous Roku city skyline is known for its pop culture references to famous movies and TV shows
  • The marketing team is finally opening up Roku’s skyline to other companies to advertise and market their products

Roku city skyline. Picture credits: Twitter

Look up in the sky!

Everyone who has owned a Roku TV stick know how iconic the screensaver is. Every time the TV is not being used, Roku switches to its screensaver, completely flooded with pop-culture references from movies like Titanic, King Kong etc, to popular TV shows as well. As calming as this screensaver was, it is however going to change, and whether it is for the better or worse is still something that needs to be seen.

As part of Roku’s recent marketing strategy, it is now opening up its Roku City Skyline will be receiving branded takeovers. The first partner is McDonald’s, which will add its famous golden arches to Roku City. The screensaver already displays ads on virtual billboards, but this new initiative, called “Roku City Brand Experiences,” will make it an icon for both consumers and marketers. With nearly 40 million homes tuning in each month, Roku claims McDonald’s will become an unmissable presence on its screens.

Roku also announced several other updates at the event, including the ability for brands to host content discovery, with new curated experiences in sports and home and garden. The company will also be releasing new original shows, such as Celebrity Family Cook Off produced by Sofia Vergara and Carpe DM hosted by social media star Juanpa Zurita. Additionally, the popular shows The Great American Baking Show and Honest Renovations will be returning.

Enter the world of Roku AI

Roku will be using contextual AI to intelligently place ads by matching them with moments in shows and movies that align with a brand’s message, allowing for real-time ad placement.

Roku has announced new ad products to counter the declining average revenue per user. Its latest artificial intelligence capability employs contextual AI to automatically display ads alongside the most pertinent moments in shows and movies on The Roku Channel. The AI scans the Roku library for “iconic plot moments” that align with a brand’s message and positions their ads in real-time. Roku also revealed a fresh selection of Roku Originals, including “Side Hustlers,” an entrepreneurship docuseries produced by Hello Sunshine and digital bank Ally. The company boasts that its Originals have surpassed cable and even broadcast audiences daily.

In its presentation to marketers at the IAB NewFronts, Roku emphasized its US reach. Americans spend more time on Roku than any other TV platform, meaning they spend more time watching Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and even more time streaming CBS, NBC, ABC, and Fox. Roku showcased some of its newest ad deals at the event, including its screensaver “Roku City,” which displays a cityscape on the TV screen while idle. The city screensaver used to recommend content to stream, but now it will feature other brands too.

Additionally, the company introduced new discovery experiences that enable brands to host content in curated areas like Home & Garden and Sports experiences, aggregating content from across TV on the Roku Home Screen. When users access Roku search, they may see a featured collection that is “presented by” an ad partner. Instacart was Roku’s latest Commerce+ partner, joining others like Walmart, Best Buy, Cox Automotive, DoorDash, Kroger, and more on its shoppable ads and other retailer-focused initiatives.

Other highlights for marketers included Roku’s Primetime Reach Guarantee, which promises brands that 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. According to Alison Levin, Roku’s VP of Ad Revenue and Marketing Solutions, “We’re uniquely positioned to make brands unmissable in TV because Roku is not fighting for turf in streaming—we are the turf. 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.”

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