Roku Sets Up Advertising Brand Studio, Hires Snap And Funny Or Die Vets To Help Grow It – Deadline

Roku launched an advertising brand studio, hiring executives from Snap Inc. and Funny or Die to help grow the business.

The new operation will produce personalized advertisements and television programs for marketers. While these offerings have become typical for many businesses, brands and media agencies over the past two decades, they are a relatively new dimension of streaming. In early 2020, Hulu announced the creation of a branded studio called Greenhouse.

Roku plans to share additional details, including on specific partners and projects, during its May 3 presentation at NewFronts.

Two 2020 developments led directly to the new business, Roku VP of Advertising Marketing Dan Robbins told Deadline in an interview. One was the “tectonic shift” in overall advertising spend from linear television to streaming, and the other was a research project conducted by Roku with Magna and IPG Media Lab. The study found that branded content quadrupled purchase intent compared to traditional video ads alone. “It’s driven a ton of traction in the market and what it has really corroborated is that now is the time to go beyond the 30 second ad,” Robbins said. “As budgets change, it’s also an opportunity to get creative.”

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As part of the studio’s launch, Roku struck a deal with Funny Or Die’s branded entertainment division that will see several of its employees help with the new initiative. Among them are Chris Bruss and Brian Toombs. Rachel Daly Helfman of Snap Inc. will also join Roku in a senior role. Roku’s Patrick Colletto will also hold a senior management role. New hire backgrounds span projects designed for advertisers like Kroger, Lyft, Ralph Lauren and Wendy’s.

In historical terms, streaming has matured as a medium to the point that it is poised to introduce substantial changes to the advertising experience, Robbins said. Radio ads, he noted, started out as an advertiser reading a print ad verbatim, and TV ads began by simply adding a still image to an audio track.

Roku, which ended 2020 with 51.2 million active user households, is already using its platform as a sponsorship opportunity, allowing brands to take over their homescreen. An advertiser, TurboTax, recently added an augmented reality lens designed for phones and screens.

Industry-wide, a low interest in ad-supported streaming several years ago has turned into a flood as linear ratings and ad revenue continue to erode. Hulu, now controlled by Disney, is stepping up its top-tier sales efforts. NBCUniversal has advertised the core of its Peacock streaming service. WarnerMedia is set to roll out an ad-supported tier of HBO Max, and ViacomCBS and Fox have each invested in AVOD services.

“Branding experiences on the Roku platform have helped us quickly shift ad budgets to TV streaming and move beyond traditional advertising to shake things up when it comes to buying,” said Lisa McQueen , media manager at Lexus, in the official announcement.

Industry-leading studios create everything from unscripted series to feature films to animated shorts. As for what Roku expects in terms of a studio release, Robbins said, “It’s an open campus. We have the biggest streaming platform and we know our marketers want to innovate. “

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