Roku Rolls Out New Ad Products and Contextual AI Insertions

Roku introduced new ad products this week at the IAB NewFronts, touting opportunities to advertise on Roku’s home screen and within original content. That also includes its screensaver — dubbed Roku City — which McDonald’s is taking over for a summer promo. Roku also said it will be using contextual AI to automatically insert ads at appropriate moments in Roku Channel programming. In a twist on programmatic, Roku will train artificial intelligence on its advertisers’ marketing campaigns and messaging goals then have it scour the library for “iconic plot moments” that offer a good fit, inserting ads in real time.

Roku Media president Charlie Collier, who exited his post as CEO of FOX Entertainment last fall to lead the streaming platform, took to the stage Tuesday at Manhattan’s Chelsea Factory under the glow of the iconic purple skyline of Roku City. Roku viewers are familiar with the endlessly scrolling cityscape.

“This summer, McDonald’s will be taking over Roku City, exposing its burgers and fries to nearly 40 million homes,” writes NextTV, referring to the number of Roku households that experience the screensaver each month. “If Roku City were a country, it would be the ninth largest in the world, larger than Mexico and the UK,” Roku’s head of advertising Alison Levin said in a blog post.

Roku’s NewFronts theme was how the platform can “make brands unmissable.” It’s the gateway to all things streaming, Collier contextualized. “‘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,” as reported in TechCrunch.

Deadline says Collier told the crowd that “Roku is not fighting for turf in the streaming wars. Roku is the turf.”

The company is tilling its turf with new Roku Originals involving notable producers, performers and influencers such as Reese Witherspoon, Sofia Vergara and Charlie Puth.

Roku also announced Instacart as its latest Commerce+ partner, joining the likes of Walmart, Best Buy and DoorDash with shoppable ads and other retail initiatives. “Commerce+ is designed to shorten the path to purchase for consumers,” TechCrunch explains.

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