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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.
Image Credits: Roku
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.
Image Credits: Roku
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.
Image Credits: Roku
Image Credits: Roku
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.”
Roku touts its new ad products, including an AI that matches campaigns to TV moments by Sarah Perez originally published on TechCrunch
Roku touts its new ad products, including an AI that matches campaigns to TV moments

Roku gains 1.6 million active streaming accounts in Q1, warns of continued ad uncertainty

Roku delivered its first-quarter results on Wednesday with better-than-expected revenue and the addition of 1.6 million active streaming accounts in the period. Although the company’s results came in above analyst estimates, Roku told investors that it sees its advertising business remaining challenged.
The company’s revenue for the quarter reached $741 million, up just 1% from the year-ago quarter, and a net loss of $193.6 million.
Notably, the company revealed that it reached 71.6 million active accounts, a 17% year-over-year increase. Streaming hours reached 25.1 billion, up 4.2 billion hours or 20% year-over-year. Average revenue per user fell 5% year-over-year to $40.67.
“Similar to our viewpoint during our last earnings call, we expect macro uncertainties to persist throughout 2023,” the company wrote in a letter to shareholders. “Consumers remain pressured by inflation and recessionary fears, and thus discretionary spend is likely to remain muted. Accordingly, we expect the advertising market in Q2 to look much the same as it did in Q1, with ad spend from certain verticals improving (travel and health and wellness), while others remain pressured (M&E and financial services).”
In its letter, Roku wrote that it was the most popular streaming platform for this year’s Super Bowl with approximately half of all streams. The company notes that of those viewers, 12% started the game through either its Sports experience or a game-related ad.
Roku expects Q2 total net revenue of about $770 million, total gross profit of roughly $335 million and adjusted EBITDA of negative $75 million.
The company’s earning results come a month after Roku conducted a second round of layoffs and let go of 6% of its workforce, or around 200 employees. Roku disclosed the cuts in an SEC filing, explaining that the decision was part of a larger plan to lower its year-over-year operating expense growth and prioritize projects that it believes will have a higher return on investment. The company had laid off 200 U.S. employees back in November, citing economic conditions in the industry.

Roku announces a second set of layoffs impacting 200 employees, or 6% of its workforce

Roku soars past revenue expectations as it bets on streaming devices to boost growth

Roku gains 1.6 million active streaming accounts in Q1, warns of continued ad uncertainty by Aisha Malik originally published on TechCrunch
Roku gains 1.6 million active streaming accounts in Q1, warns of continued ad uncertainty

Roku, Roblox and others disclose their exposure to SVB in SEC filings

The fallout from the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank is impacting a range of startups and larger firms including, as we know now from SEC filings, publicly traded companies like Roku, Roblox, Quotient, and others. Roku said in a filing that it had around $487 million held at SVB, representing around 26% of its cash and cash equivalents as of March 10, 2023, as Variety was first to report. Its remaining balance of $1.4 billion is distributed across other large financial institutions, it said.
“At this time, the Company does not know to what extent the Company will be able to recover its cash on deposit at SVB,” Roku’s filing stated. “Notwithstanding the closure of SVB, the Company continues to believe that its existing cash and cash equivalents balance and cash flow from operations will be sufficient to meet its working capital, capital expenditures, and material cash requirements from known contractual obligations for the next twelve months and beyond,” it said.
Roku had just come off a fourth-quarter earnings beat with $867.1 million in revenue compared with Wall St. expectations of $801.69 million, and a fourth-quarter loss of $1.70 a share versus the $1.72 anticipated. However, the company’s Q1 2023 guidance had still been cautious, citing the current macroeconomic environment. Shares have since dropped by over 3% in after-hours trading. Yesterday, Roku announced a partnership with Best Buy and its advertising business.
Meanwhile, gaming platform Roblox said in a filing approximately 5% of its $3 billion cash and securities balance was held at SVB as of Feb. 28, 2023.
“Thus, regardless of the ultimate outcome and the timing, this situation will have no impact on the day to day operations of the Company,” Roblox assured investors. The company’s stock had just been upgraded by Jefferies analyst Andrew Uerkwitz from a hold to a buy, citing the platform’s ability to continue to grow despite near-term concerns over the economy.
The updates are a further indication of how closely connected the failed bank was with the larger tech industry and the further ramifications its closure could have on brand-name firms.
In addition to Roku and Robox, omnichannel digital marketing firm and Coupons.com owner Quotient also disclosed a smaller impact, noting it held $400,000 at Silicon Valley Bank UK Limited, a UK-based subsidiary of SVB.
Space company Rocket Lab USA said it had $38 million in cash, or 7.9% of its total cash as of Dec. 31, 2022, with SVB.
Vimeo said in an SEC filing it holds accounts at SVB with a total balance of less than $250,000, which means it’s insured by the FDIC. “The company believes it does not have exposure to any liquidity concern at SVB. The Company has a well structured and diverse set of banking partners with no bank holding over 25% of its total cash,” Vimeo’s filing noted.
Other companies have been posting to social media and disclosing in filings to assure investors they were not exposed.
For example, SoFi announced in a tweet and in a filing that it has no assets with SVB and its only exposure was a “very small lending facility” that was provided to the company for less than $40 million, which was “unaffected by the FDIC’s receivership of Silicon Valley Bank,” the post read, likely in hope to avoid contagion from this catastrophe.
Streamer fuboTV also filed to inform investors it didn’t hold any deposit or have any investments at SVB.
SVB was closed down by regulators on Friday and will re-open Monday with the FDIC in charge. It said all insured depositors will have full access to insured deposits no later than Monday morning. Deposits are insured up to $250,000 per depositor.

Silicon Valley Bank is being shut down today by regulators

Roku, Roblox and others disclose their exposure to SVB in SEC filings by Sarah Perez originally published on TechCrunch
Roku, Roblox and others disclose their exposure to SVB in SEC filings

Roku partners with Best Buy and its advertising business to get first-party shopper data

Roku and Best Buy announced today that as part of their new first-to-market partnership, Roku gets access to Best Buy’s advertising platform. Also, Best Buy customers have exclusive access to Roku-branded TVs.
The relationship is a first for Best Buy since it’s never partnered with a TV streaming platform to provide its first-party sales data. The new deal allows Roku to use the retailer’s data to target ads. Best Buy launched its advertising business, Best Buy Ads, in January 2022.
“We’re bringing together our entire business to build the future of entertainment and advertising — making the TV experience simpler, offering the right marketing, data, tech, and scale to drive real results, and helping win the entire streamer’s journey together with Best Buy,” Julian Mintz, co-head of U.S. brand sales for Roku Media, said in a statement.
The companies claim that combining the data will make TV advertising more performance-driven. Brands can target, optimize and measure their ads on the streaming platform using Best Buy shopper data, ensuring Roku viewers see ads that interest them, Roku and Best Buy explained. Roku recently surpassed 70 million active accounts.
The partnership points to a shift in how advertisers are spending, as they lean toward streaming and retail media to reach a larger number of consumers. In 2022, 82% of U.S. advertisers anticipated an increase in spending levels with retail media networks, per eMarketer.
Roku and Best Buy also announced an in-person, interactive activation which will launch at South by Southwest (SXSW) on March 11, allowing event-goers to experience Roku’s screensaver, Roku City, as well as a Best Buy Home Theater Experience that features the latest Roku devices available at Best Buy and Roku’s upcoming original content slate among other titles on The Roku Channel.

Roku’s latest software update brings local news, more live sports and a new mobile app

Roku partners with Best Buy and its advertising business to get first-party shopper data by Lauren Forristal originally published on TechCrunch
Roku partners with Best Buy and its advertising business to get first-party shopper data

Free, ad-supported creator content comes to The Roku Channel

Roku struck a deal with creator company Jellysmack to launch new content featuring 17 popular YouTube and TikTok creators like Brad Mondo, Lauren Riihimaki (LaurDIY), Emmy Cho (Emmymade), Karina Garcia and more. The company announced yesterday that it’s launching two free, ad-supported TV (FAST) channels, “Hello Inspo” and “Mysteria,” to The Roku Channel’s Live TV Guide.
“Hello Inspo” will give viewers access to all their favorite lifestyle, beauty and fashion content creators, from room makeovers and recipes to DIYs, style hacks and makeup tutorials. In addition to the names mentioned above, other influencers featured on this channel include Liz Fenwick, HeXtian, Hellthy JunkFood, Smitha Deepak and Josh Elkin.
“Mysteria” is a new true crime channel that will include content from Danelle Hallan, Stephanie Soo, Christina Randall, True Crime Recaps, Killer Bites, Dr. Todd Grande, John Lordan (LordanArts) and Brooke Makenna. Viewers can watch these creators talk about the most haunting crimes as well as bone-chilling unsolved mysteries.
Roku’s partnership with Jellysmack is notable as it brings creator programming — a widely popular form of content — to ad-supported video-on-demand (AVOD), which also continues to rise in popularity. In the fourth quarter, the Roku Channel reached U.S. households with approximately 100 million viewers, the company reported.
“We’re delighted to partner with Jellysmack as the company’s first-ever FAST partner. We are thrilled to provide our audience with content featuring some of today’s most popular digital creators,” said Ashley Hovey, head of The Roku Channel, AVOD, in a statement. “The addition of these new channels to our Live TV Guide is the latest example of how we aim to provide our users with access to popular entertainment options for free.”
While Jellysmack has launched other video content series, this will be the first time it has released long-form TV content on a FAST service. In July 2022, the company partnered with Pinterest to launch five short video series on the platform. These weekly episodes on Pinterest feature some of the same creators in Roku’s new FAST channels, such as Cho, Garcia, Riihimaki and Fenwick.
“Our partnership with Roku is about finding big opportunities for creators and their content,” added Stefanie Schwartz, Jellysmack’s head of Platform Partnerships. “The Roku Channel’s linear offering is the #1 FAST service on Roku, America’s No. 1 TV streaming platform, giving our creators the ability to reach a large and growing audience. We’re delighted to bring Roku top creators — at scale.”
Jellysmack’s creator program launched in 2019 and uses AI technology to help boost creators and distribute their content to various platforms like YouTube, Snapchat, TikTok, Facebook and more. According to the company, the program has helped hundreds of top creators, including MrBeast, Bailey Sarian, The Try Guys and PewDiePie.
The new FAST channels join the Roku Channel’s vast content lineup, including 80,000+ free movies and programs and over 300 free live TV channels. Recently, Roku inked a deal with Warner Bros. Discovery to add hundreds of free titles from HBO, HBO Max, Discovery Channel, HGTV, Food Network and TLC, among others.
Free, ad-supported creator content comes to The Roku Channel by Lauren Forristal originally published on TechCrunch
Free, ad-supported creator content comes to The Roku Channel