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Roku debuts its OneView Ad Platform

Ad Age 05 May 2020 10:00

Roku today is debuting its demand-side platform (DSP) OneView, a rebrand of Dataxu tech that puts the streaming giant on equal footing with some of its biggest rivals. 

Companies such as AT&T and Amazon have their own DSPs, which are used by agencies and brands to purchase ads in channels such as CTV, display and digital audio, using automation.

Big picture, OneView's self-serve platform lowers the bar of entry for companies seeking to enter the streaming TV space. 

“We’ve always believed that all TV ads will be streamed,” says Alison Levin, VP of ad sales and strategy at Roku. “The ability to scale in streaming comes down to being able to scale against high-valued audiences—which is dependent on identity—and having access to as much inventory as possible.” 

Although OneView couples programmatic buying with data management, media planning and attribution tools savvy marketers desire, some industry experts say the move creates another walled garden to the streaming TV space, which is expected to grow 31 percent to $5 billion in 2020, according to estimates from Magna Global.

'We knew we had to diversify'

“Drizly is like a number of DTC brands that has a relatively boring mix of two behemoths — Facebook and Google — with relatively simple means of measuring those guys,” says Jay Poropatich, senior director of growth marketing at alcoholic delivery company Drizly. “We knew we had to diversify.” 

Poropatich says OneView gave Drizly a similar means to measure a complicated channel like connected TV, adding that the company is able to measure which households visit their website or app after being exposed to a Roku ad.

“We’re more interested in understanding the causal persuasion of an ad and whether it results in new customers,” Poropatich says. “Because we have a control audience who just sees our PSA ads on Roku, we can measure lift of an exposed individual versus a non-exposed.”

Others, such as Camelot Strategic Marketing and Media, are coupling Roku’s 40 million logged-in users with its ACR data, which tells the agency what Roku viewers are watching, to help plan its ad buys.

“That’s very important for planners,” says Sam Bloom, CEO of Camelot. “The ACR data allows us to suppress TV ads and instead show ads to people not watching linear TV.”

Another walled garden?

When Roku acquired Dataxu for $150 million last year, one of its biggest appeals was the DSP’s device graph, which allows marketers to use their own data, as well as data from third-parties, to measure their ads across different platforms.

"Roku now has a fully featured programmatic platform of it own with planning and buying capabilities that a rival like Hulu wouldn't have," says Joanna O'Connell, VP principal analyst at Forrester. "This doesn't minimize the points of value of either of those companies—it's not, 'should I choose Roku or Hulu,' but rather, 'I need Roku and Hulu.'"

Roku claims that marketers who use its OneView platform will have access to more of its ad inventory versus other DSPs such as the Trade Desk or Adobe, both of which sell Roku ads. Experts believe such practices may result in more walled gardens.

“It’s starting to look like these big media companies are setting up more walled-garden style environments than not, where they can run all their own inventory through their pipes and eventually try and restrict buyers to only using their owned platforms,” says O'Connell.

“That’s not what big buyers are going to want,” she adds. “They want platforms that give them more access to more streaming inventory in a single place—this makes it harder for them to do that.”

Amazon also has a similar setup with its DSP. And O'Connell points to Xandr folding into WarnerMedia as another potential walled garden in the streaming space. “It’s not great for buyers, as it means more platforms to learn, manage and pay for,” O'Connell says. “Not to mention it can further complicate measurement for marketers.”

The end result will be a fragmented market, says Andrew Hare, senior VP of research of global media and entertainment at consultancy Magid.

"What we are looking at is the future of video advertising," says Hare. “Roku is clearly articulating the value to advertisers they receive when working with OneView.“

A Roku spokesperson said in a statement: “Roku remains committed to being an open platform. Roku continues to work with dozens of DSP, SSP and measurement partners including, Adobe, SpotX, Nielsen and more.“

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