Vizio updates home screen to enhance advertising opportunities

With smart TVs increasingly becoming a household mainstay, Vizio is honing in on the home screen to keep viewers engaged and make ads on its platform more engaging.

At its NewFronts presentation, Vizio offered a glimpse of a redesigned interface that will be rolled out to consumers over the next few months. The updated UI not only aims to streamline the user experience but also allows brands to create more immersive ads on Vizio.

The so-called hero unit is “the first stop and touchpoint for millions of consumers when they power on the TV,” according to Sean Booker, senior director of sales at Vizio’s media and entertainment vertical. New OS features for advertisers include autoplay video capabilities, deep linking directly into content or a storefront for movie purchases as well as QR code integration.

Additionally, Vizio’s new “Discover, Reveal” row block extends the hero unit to give advertisers multiple touchpoints and first ad spot positions, making brands “an unmissable part of the search and discovery process,” said Booker.

Vizio noted time spent on the home screen has more than doubled (53%) over the past six months, due to users spending more time browsing curated carousels and genre hubs. That time spent serves as “flexible sponsorship opportunities to drive multiple media objectives,” said Allison Clarke, Vizio’s head of general market advertising sales.

Ahead of NewFronts, Vizio announced a new Branded Content Studio unit, which is tasked with creating data-informed programming – containing sponsored messaging – across various formats. The home screen is the conduit for that new division.

“For the first time ever, Vizio is helping advertisers become the entertainment,” said Katlyn Wilson, Vizio’s director of branded content, sales and strategy. She referred to the “3 Pointers” short-form series, which Vizio and BetMGM launched in conjunction with March Madness. The programming aimed to reel in Vizio’s sports fans as well as food lovers.

“We leveraged our home screen hero autoplay unit to target food lovers, sports viewers and take the content and geographically focus it on the exact territories that BetMGM wanted to reach,” Wilson said. Vizio users will see different branded programming appear on the home screen, depending on their viewing habits and preferred genres.

During the presentation, Vizio announced some new partnerships for its Branded Content Studio. The first is with Modern Luxury to launch a collection of lifestyle series focused on travel, food, art and fashion. The smart TV maker is also teaming up with Golf Nation and the Spirits Network to promote shoppable content for those brands.

Wilson brought up another example, in which Vizio created a branded series with a “sports-adjacent advertiser.” It consisted of one-of-a-kind episodes and was promoted on the home screen as well as on WatchFree+, Vizio’s free ad-supported streaming TV (FAST) service.

For overall audiences, that branded series resulted in a 120% increase in purchase intent, she said.

“Among audiences that had never used similar services in the past, purchase intent came in at 153%,” Wilson added. “Great content is only as valuable as the distribution you put behind it.”


Vizio executives also took the time to mention how the FAST service, which remains the second most-watched free service on Vizio’s platform, bolsters advertising strategies.

Katherine Pond, Vizio’s Group VP of platform content and partnerships, touted the value of WatchFree+’s single series channels and how they appeal to advertisers. Vizio in its Spring Showcase recently introduced single series channels for “Project Runway,” “Family Feud,” among others.

“Unlike traditional cable, we have the ability to identify a uniquely singular audience and speak directly to them, coupled with the reach and prevalence of the biggest screen in the house,” she said.

Vizio also offers a series of pop-up channels throughout the year to align with seasonal tentpoles. For International Women’s Day, Vizio in March launched “Herstory,” a channel highlighting female empowerment.

Such channels, according to Pond, serve as “meaningful messaging opportunities for our ad partners to align with the events and moments that matter most to our viewers.”

At the end of 2022, Vizio introduced interactive ads to WatchFree+ through a new partnership with Brightline. Vizio at NewFronts noted interactive ads drive greater lift and brand metrics than traditional, passive 30-second spots.