Roku has revamped its ad platform on its quest to dominate the over-the-top advertising ecosystem.
The company has rolled Dataxu into a new ad platform, OneView, that it says will let advertisers plan, buy and measure campaigns across digital devices in four out of five U.S. homes—including non-Roku households.
Alison Levin, Roku’s vice president of ad sales and strategy, said almost any inventory available in OTT can be bought on the platform.
“Say, for instance, you want to run [a campaign] on a TV channel that runs across all platforms—you could do that,” Levin said. “But you also now compare it together with proprietary audiences that only Roku can offer.”
Roku is essentially bringing together, on a single platform, its first-party data from nearly 40 million users with viewing data from over 10 million automatic content recognition-enabled TVs to bolster the Dataxu device graph, which spans OTT, digital display and mobile.
The streaming platform has taken significant steps through partnerships and acquisitions as it looks to carve out a large chunk of the OTT market. The company bought Dataxu for $150 million last October, and has since inked partnerships with the likes of Adobe and Innovid to enhance targeting and measurement on Roku devices.
“Roku has always believed that all TV will be streamed, and that all TV ads will also be streamed. So having our own ad stack and our own DSP was always the natural progression of the ad business,” Levin said.
For many, the next logical progression would be for Roku to cement itself as a walled garden, but that’s a bit trickier in app-based connected TV environments.
Like Google or Facebook, Roku naturally won’t let its first-party data travel beyond its walls. But unlike the digital duopoly, Roku doesn’t monetize all the inventory across every single app on its service. Roku has varying agreements over inventory splits with its content partners: On average, it helps them monetize 30% of their ad space, meaning advertisers can still access inventory that Roku doesn’t have access to via direct deals or through their desired programmatic partners.
However, Roku does refresh the device IDs it passes in the bid stream, so competing DSPs will need to have strong device graphs if they’re to keep up with Dataxu.
“Our DSP will definitely have certain fundamental advantages around identity, around accountability and around performance guarantees. But we are certainly an open platform, and we’ll continue to be open,” said Levin.
“We still work with other third-party DSPs. We still work with other SSPs. The key point is the difference around identity. The ability to scale audiences and define audiences depends on the data link in the DSP.”
OneView is positioned as a one-stop shop where advertisers can activate in linear, OTT and display. Dataxu has its roots in display but spent its last couple of years as an independent DSP pivoting to video.
Despite Roku’s lack of experience operating a display business, Levin stressed that the company has no plans to sell off that legacy function of Dataxu.
“They all play a role: OTT, plus desktop, plus mobile all impact how a consumer thinks about a product… so you need all of those to work together,” Levin said. “But as OTT becomes larger and larger, our ability as the largest streaming platform in the U.S. … becomes incredibly important to overall ROI for a brand.”