Roku Exchange debuts for more direct programmatic access to streaming ad inventory

Roku on Wednesday introduced the Roku Exchange, which is meant to provide a direct path between programmatic demand and the streaming platform’s ad inventory and data, ultimately giving more ad buyers and marketers access.

“Roku Exchange is the mediation layer that serves ads and enriches impressions, based on Roku data from over tens of millions of streaming households,” said Louqman Parampath, VP of Product Management at Roku in a statement. “Democratizing access to Roku Media, which includes video and native ad formats across the ecosystem for all demand-side partners, brings better results for advertisers while also keeping the consumer’s experience best in class.”

Parampath, in an interview with AdExchanger, explained that Roku Exchange ensures programmatic buys get the same data as direct buyers, including more information about content around their ads – which, he told the publication, was previously only available if advertisers bought directly from Roku Media. Now through Roku Exchange, AdExchanger reported, programmatic buyers can get access to that data, including length and timing of ad breaks, as well as additional metadata around networks and channels, such as genre.

In the announcement, Roku said Roku Exchange serves as the central ad supply hub for the streaming platform, which in Q1 saw streaming hours grow to reach 30.8 billion. The exchange is responsible for integrations, fair auctions and ad decisioning. It’s integrated with supply-side platform (SSP) Magnite to facilitate connections into the broader programmatic ecosystem.

“Roku Exchange provides robust ad signal availability enabling us to better connect our audiences and buying strategies across all platforms with Roku Media,” said Sam Bloom, head of partnerships at advertising agency PMG, in a statement. “This enhances our client’s performance significantly. We are consistently impressed by Roku’s innovative capabilities in ad technology.”

Roku has been working to expand programmatic capabilities for advertisers, which during Q1 earnings executives cited as a key area of focus as it looks to fuel revenue growth of its platform business. Roku CEO Anthony Wood on the April earnings call noted engagement on The Roku Channel (up 66% yoy in Q1) was outpacing ad fill rates on the FAST service.

Recent data released by Comscore found that among three leading FAST services The Roku Channel had the largest share of total CTV hours watched in February, accounting for 42% of FAST usage by total hours and pacing ahead of Paramount’s Pluto TV (38%) and Fox’s Tubi (20%). The Roku platform, meanwhile, is the top TV OS in the U.S. based on time spent, with twice the usage of Amazon, which is the next-largest TVOS, per Comscore.

Work on the programmatic front for Roku includes partnering with third-party demand-side platforms (DSPs) such as The Trade Desk, Google Display & Video 360 and Yahoo DSP.  Roku on Wednesday said DSP partners benefit from customized programmatic signals Roku Exchange can send to drive more success of Roku Media on their platforms.

According to the announcement, Roku Exchange offers programmatic access to streaming TV inventory and identity data, as well includes content signals in the stream from The Roku Channel FAST and other premium streaming apps.  The exchange also offers audience-based ad decisioning for Roku Media ad placements, including as marquee ads on the home screen, shoppable action ads, interactive video ads and branded buildings within the Roku City screen saver.  And it utilizes AI to offer personalized ad breaks and tailored ad creatives.

Roku Exchange allows different types of advertisers to customize through access to capabilities and partners, like Wurl for mobile app downloads for performance marketers, B2B customers though LinkedIn Campaign Manager and locally targeted ad campaigns through Madhive (the latter which itself just announced the acquisition of Frequence, an ad sales and workflow software and services provider for local media).

“Through the Roku Exchange, Wurl is receiving custom tailored bidstream signals that have helped unlock incredible results for our performance marketers,” said Ria Madrid, VP of Advertising Partnerships at Wurl, in a statement.