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Roku Launches Branded Content Studio Ahead of Upfront Season

Roku TurboTax Branded Content
Roku created an augmented-reality game for TurboTax (Image credit: Roku)

Roku said it is launching a branded content studio to create programming tailored for marketers and devise new ad formats.

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The announcement comes before the Newfronts and the TV upfront market. Roku expects more ad dollars to be spent on streaming and is urging advertisers to take a streaming first approach to their budgets.

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Dan Robbins, VP, ad marketing, at Roku, noted that all of the major media agencies last year did upfront deals with Roku as traditional TV ratings points have eroded. Meanwhile Roku reported record platform revenue in the fourth quarter.

“The shift to TV streaming has accelerated and leading advertisers are going beyond the 30-second ad,” said Robbins.

Roku has made a deal with Funny or Die’s branded entertainment division and some of its staff will be joining Roku. Those include Chriss Bruss, who had been president of digital content, and senior VP, digital, Brian Toombs. 

Also joining the Roku advertising brand studio is Rachel Daly Helfman who led the creative team at Snap. 

The executives joining Roku have worked on branded content for clients including  Kroger, Lyft, Ralph Lauren and Wendy’s 

Roku had already done a fair amount of sponsorship and native advertising business, Robbins said. This year TurboTax was able to extend its March Madness sponsorship onto the Roku platform with a college hoops hub that provides info about the tournament and how to watch it. Roku also designed an augmented-reality game that allowed them to shoot baskets on their TV using their phone. 

Robbins pointed to a study that showed that branded experiences executed alongside advertising generates four times greater purchase intent than video advertising alone.

“We’re excited to launch a new advertising brand studio for marketers to create streamer-first campaigns on  America’s #1 TV streaming platform,” he said.

Roku expects to provide more details about how advertising clients can work with the studio and other advertising development at its presentation kicking off the NewFronts in May.