Roku taps Sal Candela and Sarah Harms as advertising VPs

Roku Media is expanding its advertising team with two new hires.  On Tuesday the streaming platform announced Sal Candela as VP of Global Agency Partnerships and Sarah Harms as VP of Advertising Marketing.

Both will be based in New York, with Candela reporting to Roku VP of Global Ad Sales and Partnerships Kristina Shepard and Harms reporting to Roku Head of Global Media Revenue & Growth Jay Askinasi.

Joining Roku from Microsoft, Harms is responsible for overall marketing and measurement strategy and execution across the streamer’s advertising business. During her five years at Microsoft Harms oversaw national sales and account management for the company’s buy-side ad tech business (the unit formerly known as Xandr, acquired from AT&T) as Group VP. She also brings buy-side experience from two years as digital investment lead for programmatic and video at GroupM, a role she held after five years at Xaxis (now included in the GroupM Nexus cross-channel performance unit) including as VP of Investments and Partnerships. Harms started her career as a network relations analyst for WPP.

Candela, meanwhile, joined Roku from Spotify in April, bringing both buy- and sell-side experience. In his new role Candela’s tasked with elevating partnerships with Roku’s biggest advertising clients across markets and collaborating closely with agencies, supporting strategic direction for the overall media and agency business. Candela spent three years at Spotify, most recently as head of agency development.  Before that he was president of Enterprise Partnerships and U.S. Investment at Omnicom Media Group. Earlier in his career Candela held senior roles working with agency and holding company clients at Undertone, and previously founded media agency PHD’s Mobile practice.

“Expanding the Roku Media team marks a pivotal time for the company, as Roku continues to grow its market-leading scale,” said Roku’s Askinasi in a statement. “I have no doubt that Sarah will help take our business to new heights with her proven ability to deliver scalable, valuable solutions to advertisers. Sal’s deep industry knowledge and agency relationships will be advantageous to our business as media investments continue to shift towards TV streaming this Upfront season.”

Roku during its NewFronts presentation in May announced new advertising pacts, including with measurement vendor iSpot and  with demand-side platform The Trade Desk. The latter, Macquarie Research analysts in a May 1 note to investors pegged as “a potentially serious needle-mover” for Roku, where the firm believes integration with the DSP should help deliver more demand to fill the streamer's ad supply more effectively (during Q1 earnings Roku execs noted a gap between engagement and fill rates on The Roku Channel FAST service) and potentially hasten Roku’s ad ambitions outside of the U.S. market.  

In Q1 Roku’s platform business, which includes advertising and streaming service distribution, generated $755 million in revenue, up 19% year over year.

Roku CEO Anthony Wood during the earnings call outlined three areas to help accelerate platform growth in 2025 and beyond, including expanding programmatic ad capabilities following a strategic pivot, where it now counts more than 30 third-party partners, as well as improved home screen monetization including through new ad formats.  

Roku also now has premium live sports lined up to sell ads against on The Roku Channel, having secured exclusive rights in May to 18 MLB Sunday Leadoff games under a multi-year deal, reportedly for $10 million annually.