Upheaval Upfront: Roku Is Fiercely Collaborative on Measurement

By Upfronts/NewFronts Archives
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As part of my series of interviews focused on the Upfront/NewFront I had the pleasure of interviewing Asaf Davidov, Head of Ad Measurement and Research at Roku. Here’s what I learned.

Bill Harvey: Asaf, I’ve followed your rise through the ranks at NBCU, then Hulu and Disney, and now at Roku. How would you describe your role at Roku?

Asaf Davidov: I’ve been here for about four months now. I’m leading a team of about thirty talented researchers and analysts who are providing measurements of ads and content to marketers at all stages, from planning, to pre-buy analytics, campaign effectiveness, to insights. The focus is to help them measure and optimize their buys on Roku across the gamut of ad opportunities we offer.

Bill: What are the main Roku ad opportunities?

Asaf: We have a number of opportunities, but the two that I think really show the breadth of our offering are The Roku Channel and OneView. The Roku Channel is the home of free and premium content on the Roku platform. In Q4 2021, The Roku Channel reached an estimated 80 million people in U.S. households. OneView, our ad platform built for TV streaming, helps advertisers and publishers deliver a better ad experience from the biggest screen in consumers’ homes to the smaller ones in their hands.

Bill: How big are you folks now in terms of U.S. subs?

Asaf: As of Q1 2022, we have 61.3 million active accounts. We are America’s No. 1 TV streaming platform.

Bill: What is Roku doing to help advertisers with their measurement goals?

Asaf: Clients want to know how to get the most reach, brand lift and sales lift. For the first time ever, streaming TV has surpassed linear TV in weekly reach among adults 18-49. Advertisers and agencies come to us to maximize impact by using linear TV, streaming TV and other digital together. We can really help them because we see not only what they buy on Roku in digital, but we also have some visibility on the reach of linear TV buys from the ACR data in smart TVs that contain Roku. We’re able to show them things that they only get glimpses of elsewhere. We add to those glimpses and help them feel more confident that they have a somewhat holistic picture of things.

Bill: Besides Nielsen DAR measures of digital and your own ACR smart TV data, what other data types are you able to combine with those?

Asaf: We also have rich data of our own, plus we collaborate with 20-25 other measurement partners. We provide our own pixels advertisers can put on their websites. We know we can’t do it all ourselves. We need to collaborate across the industry to be all that we can be, to give all that we can potentially give to advertisers including the other networks who also buy Roku ads. Our emphasis is on providing the most incrementality -- more viewers for network clients, reach lift, brand lift and sales lift for other advertisers.

Bill: And your footprint is actually a combination of smart TVs and Roku devices which make a TV smart.

Asaf: Yes, and our ACR data is only coming from the smart TVs that have Roku inside. The Roku streaming players give us data on Roku but not on other viewing. That ACR data is very valuable in obtaining granular understanding of the duplication patterns across the TV-digital divide, down to the program level.

Bill: I assume that a large part of your business is transacted based on advanced audiences rather than age/gender.

Asaf: That’s true. We have demographic data beyond just age and gender but more importantly, because everything we do is addressable, we also measure on incremental outcomes – from reach to purchases.  It’s all about working with our clients to help them determine the right targets to achieve those goals.

Bill: Can you expand more on your measurement partner program?

Asaf: They fall into three categories we call Reach, Resonance and Reaction. By Resonance we mean brand lift. By Reaction we mean actions taken such as sales, store visitation, filling out an application and so on. Here we rely on our third-party measurement partners and on clients who can measure their outcomes on a first-party basis. In the Reaction area, we have also been helping clients enhance their Marketing Mix Modeling (MMM).

Bill: Can you elaborate on how you’ve been helping to enhance their MMM?

Asaf: We’ve announced that we’re expanding our Measurement Partner Program to include marketing mix modeling (MMM), making it easier for brands to measure campaign outcomes. Launch partners include Analytic Partners, Ipsos MMA, IRI and Nielsen, which will be available later this year for Roku’s Upfront advertisers. We’re able to give them more resolution. They are typically limited to market level (DMAs) with MMM, and total impressions. What we are able to bring is more insight within that down to zip codes, program genres and other data from the ACR smart TV data we have.

Bill: How are you thinking about cross-screen measurement in TV streaming?

Asaf: We have been collaborating with Nielsen and with the other measurement companies, too. We have a great relationship with Nielsen and with all our measurement partners. Combining our efforts, we can achieve so much more. We want to bring our clients all the richness of insight, so they make the best decisions and benefit from working with us and all their other media partners.

Bill: You’re an industry role model for collaboration!

Asaf: Thanks, Bill.

Bill: We are in the middle of the Upfront season. What are advertisers asking for when it comes to measurement?

Asaf: The big thing they all want is a better handle on how to use streaming and linear together. They want to do that better, using measurement, even if it’s based on just what Roku can see. At least it’s highly granular and factual, not modeled.

Bill: How often does it come up that they would like to use additional pre-buy measures like attention, context effect and so on?

Asaf: In this year’s NewFront, we hear it constantly. Viewability. Attention. Eyes on screen. Marketers know that people are more distracted than ever. They need to go beyond opportunities-to-see.

Bill: What type of measurement innovation are you working on right now?

Asaf: We’re working on an optimization platform that can fully automate in real-time the kinds of data-based guidance we’re now giving advertisers ad hoc. That can squeeze out the last drop of brand lift and ROI pre-buy, and inflight, shifting creative allocations, target allocations, and so on.

Bill: What will TV measurement look like in the next five years?

Asaf: It will all be 1:1, following the addressability of both TV and digital during that time frame, but privacy-protected by aggregating people and households into relevancy cohorts. It will be the value of digital today, on steroids. A blend of census-based digital tracking data -- ad exposure files -- repurposed for going-forward activation guidance, and panels for the U.S. Census view of everything put together as one whole. We also will always need panels for measuring the people viewing in front of the device.

Bill: Thanks, Asaf!

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