Roku, Walmart team on shoppable TV ad pilot program

Roku is launching a shoppable ad pilot program on its streaming platform with Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, allowing viewers to purchase products directly from their TV screen.

The companies announced the collaboration Thursday, saying it’s a first-of its-kind partnership for e-commerce and TV streaming that goes beyond a simple QR code. Viewers will be able to buy featured products fulfilled by Walmart directly from Roku’s platform.

“We’re working to connect with customers where they are already spending time, shortening the distance from discovery and inspiration to purchase,” said William White, chief marketing officer at Walmart, in a statement. “No one has cracked the code around video shoppability. By working with Roku, we’re the first to market retailer to bring customers a new shoppable experience and seamless checkout on the largest screen in their homes – their TV.”

Viewers will be able to press “OK’ using their remote on a shoppable ad and move to a checkout window on the TV with their payment information pre-populated from Roku’s payments platform Roku Pay. A second “OK” tap on the Walmart checkout page places the order, with a purchase confirmation emailed to the buyer.

Walmart Roku shoppable ads
Payment and shipping information would be pre-populated from Roku Pay.  (Roku)

The integration is using Roku’s purpose-built ad tech stack, which it touts as bringing all the benefits of targeting, optimization and measurement for streaming TV. The streaming platform giant, which reached 20.9 billion streaming hours at the end of the first quarter, also touted its OneView ad-buying platform as having the exclusive capability to activate and measure these shoppable ads. Marketers can also use the Roku Brand Studio to create custom creative and branded content for TV streaming and shopping.

Peter Hamilton, head of TV Commerce at Roku, said in a statement that the companies are making shopping via TV as easy as it is on social.

“For years, streamers have purchased new Roku devices and signed up for millions of subscriptions with their Roku remote,” Hamilton continued. “Streaming commerce brings that same ease and convenience to marketers and shoppers.”

Roku highlighted updates to its OneView platform, including new shoppable TV ad experiences, and pairing those ads with Roku pay, earlier this year during the company’s New Fronts presentation.

At the time Roku had said upfront advertisers would be the first to try the new shoppable ad experiences and talked about a larger vision for shopping TV. That larger vision seems to be somewhat reflected in the Walmart partnership, as executives in May described involving the Roku Studio, where products show up in a Roku original series and viewers can shop for them from their TV with one click, completing purchases on the TV without having to enter credit card or shipping information.  

“We’ve learned a ton about how to make shopping natural on the largest screen in the home,” said Kristina Shepard, head of agency partnerships and national brand team lead at Roku, on stage at New Fronts last month. “For example, we found that streamers are 5-times more likely to click their remotes than scan a QR code. Phones distract us from TV, remotes bring us in.”