Ask anyone about Alison Levin, Roku’s VP of global ad revenue and marketing solutions, and they’ll tell you the same thing: She says yes first and figures out how to get there later.
“Ali has always had an ‘anything is possible’ kind of attitude and I think that’s because she’s innately curious about how she can support brands and help them accomplish their goals,” said Cara Motowidlo, enterprise account executive at marketing technology software firm Braze, who worked with Levin at digital advertising platform YuMe. “She’s always reaching for what others might deem impossible. She’s never afraid to go there.”
Levin was the first salesperson hired by Roku in 2014, and upon arriving she rolled up her sleeves to build the sales team from scratch. Among her first two hires were Jared Lefkowitz, now senior director, ad revenue strategy, and Jon Goodstadt, now global director, ad sales — media and entertainment.
“Early on in my time at Roku, I realized my path to success was through her,” Lefkowitz said. “I realized that she had it figured out and it was on her to go build something. I just mirrored what she was doing for the first couple of years. Even when she has a gigantic problem to solve that would normally stress someone out, she is willing to work with the ambiguity of not knowing how or where it
“She’s smart, humble and fearless,” Goodstadt said. “There’s not really a no in her. It’s more, ‘How do we figure it out, how can we be solutions-oriented?’”
Today, Roku is one of the leading connected-TV platforms with a reach of 53 million households. Brands can reach consumers on the platform through two key ways: on the Roku home screen and on The Roku Channel. In addition, platform providers jockey for position on the Roku home screen, especially since Roku powers some 30% of smart TVs sold in the past year, including sets made by TCL, Insignia, Hisense, Hitachi, Philips, RCA, Sharp and more.
“I knew that I knew how to execute and bring products to market,” Levin said, having joined the company after a three-and-a-half-year stint at digital advertising platform YuMe. “Roku has been able to attract people ... who are so curious and excited to build this business from the ground up. We’re trying to change buying behavior that has existed for 65-plus years.”
That behavior does seem to be changing, with brands such as Kroger, McDonald’s, MillerCoors and BMW signing up for custom campaigns.
And Roku is growing fast. It launched its own Brand Studio in March to create custom content for advertisers; it acquired the OneView advertising platform in November 2019 and unveiled a branded version a year ago; and it just debuted Roku Originals, based on its acquisitions of the Quibi and This Old House libraries, on May 20.
Leading from the Front
Even as Levin has climbed up the ranks at Roku, she tends to lead from the front lines.
“She still rolls up her sleeves every week and has a call with our head of product every week,” Goodstadt said. “That’s unique to have someone in her position who is still very attached to her field sales days, and that resonates with our whole team.”
She also has the confidence to hire people who can fill in her knowledge and experience gaps to create a well-rounded team.
“In her leadership role, she has not been afraid to hire leaders under her that come from areas that she doesn’t come from,” Goodstadt said. “That comes with that humility — she knows what she knows and what she does not know. A lot of times for executives there’s a paranoia about that, but that’s not how she operates. She looks at it more like, ‘This person is going to help move things forward for all of us.’ ”
Said Levin: “The No. 1 thing that drives me is the ability to build and we are constantly building. We’re seven years into this business and we’ve only just gotten started.”
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