Roku's Dan Robbins: "Results and ROI Attributable to OTT"

By Roku Insights Archives
Cover image for  article: Roku's Dan Robbins: "Results and ROI Attributable to OTT"

According to Pivotal Research analysis of Nielsen data, 11% of all viewing in U.S. households with adults 18-49 occurs on a connected device or smart TV.  For Roku's Manager of Advertising Research, Dan Robbins (pictured above), who moved to Roku from Nielsen about a year ago, that is the type of information that is fueling growth in advertising investment as the cord cutting audience grows.  Robbins' team works with nearly half of the top advertisers on the AdAge Leading National Advertisers 2017 Index and most of the largest ad agencies to help them measure the success of their media spend.  In an exclusive interview with MediaVillage, he shared details of how Roku's proprietary data, in conjunction with third-party research, is helping brands and media teams to create more effective and efficient ad campaigns.

Kathy Newberger:  Can you tell me about the research you share with advertisers?

Dan Robbins:  There are two main ways research helps.  First, we have third-party measurement.  We are still the only OTT company with a Nielsen partnership that lets us guarantee age and gender demos.  That in turn enables us to provide the same traditional TV metrics that buyers are familiar with, but on OTT.  Second, because we can match that third-party data to our own, brands can attribute consumer behaviors such as site visits, store visits and actual purchases to their OTT investment.  Also, our research provides a lot of insight on who the OTT viewer is and what they watch on the TV screen, which helps advertisers make the most of that investment.

Newberger:  Make the most of their investment how?

Robbins:  The way I think about what advertisers look for is, "At what point is the first dollar you spend on OTT working harder than the last dollar you spend on traditional television?  What is that inflection point?"  We help brands figure that out; we equip our advertisers to track the success of their television investments in a world where streaming is mainstream.  Roku is not just the largest entry point for consumers into OTT programming; with Nielsen showing that we have 44 percent of active OTT devices, we're also very well positioned to look at both OTT and traditional TV viewing.

Newberger:  You can look at both linear and streaming behavior?

Robbins:  On the OTT side, we have deep insight into what content our users stream.  On linear TV we offer consumers a "More Ways to Watch" feature that recommends programming based on consumer preferences and viewing habits.  That feature uses automatic content recognition (ACR) built into our Roku-branded smart TV to help serve up those recommendations.  From that technology, we can gain further insight into how people are watching traditional TV.  That gives the marketers we work with a de-duplicated look at television viewership.

Newberger:  OK, so if I'm the strategist responsible for planning television for a national brand, how, specifically, does your team help?

Robbins:  We look at what audience is missing in your TV plan by not advertising in OTT.  One key thing that comes up frequently is that younger audiences are harder and harder to reach on linear TV.  For us, OTT is an exciting opportunity because we have so many of those demos desirable to advertisers.  About 45% of Roku users don't have pay TV.  That said, OTT isn't just one type of audience -- streaming is mainstream.

We'll show you how many people your traditional TV campaign is reaching, and we can illustrate the additional folks you'll reach by adding OTT.  That number is significant; according to a study we commissioned from Nielsen, 74.9% of Roku's audience are light linear TV viewers.  This means they are in the bottom third of traditional viewing by time spent and are increasingly harder to find on traditional TV buys.  That's a big audience to ignore.

Newberger:  Are there misconceptions about OTT?

Robbins:  The way I see it, as cord-cutting accelerates, there's an exciting opportunity for brands to use OTT to reach their intended audiences.  It's main stage and prime time now.  If an agency isn't making OTT part of a brand's television plan, either because they think others aren't or because they don't realize that OTT is measurable, they're doing that brand a disservice.  We're doing a webinar this week [Thursday, Dec. 14 at 1 p.m. ET] and we're hoping that we get participants across the entire media ecosystem -- from agency planners and buyers to research and analytics folks to brand managers.  We'll be sharing examples of tactics that advertisers are using today to engage cord-cutters and talking about how brands are quantifying impact of buying television more smartly and measuring return on advertising investment.

In a world where linear is significantly down, but TV remains important to marketing plans because it builds brands, it's an exciting opportunity to understand how OTT is measured and what's possible.

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