CTV providers court SME ad spend as the streaming wars enter a new era

In the wake of a pandemic-induced CTV boom, streaming service providers are working out how to bolster advertising revenues, and increasingly, that involves wooing the marketing managers of small-to-medium enterprises.

Roku appears to be preparing a renewed push in this direction, with buy-side sources telling Digiday that representatives of the streaming service have been preparing them for pending changes to its platform from late 2023.

Separate sources, both of whom asked not to be named due to their employers’ PR policies, told Digiday this would involve sunsetting support for its OneView offering – an enterprise ad platform built for TV streaming unveiled in 2020 – citing direct conversations with Roku.

Instead, representatives of Roku have told buyers using the OneView platform that the streaming service would start moving resources toward Roku Ads Manager; a pre-existing, self-service platform (just like OneView) but with a minimum campaign spend of $500.

One source told Digiday, “We were told they’re moving resources over to Roku Ads Manager, and they’re not doing updates or new product work to OneView because they’re putting all their eggs in one basket, and it’s going to be mostly accessible to SMEs who want to have access to Roku inventory, but can’t get it through a larger DSP [demand-side platform].”

Meanwhile, a separate buy-side source noted how representatives of the streaming service informed them that the ongoing updates didn’t necessarily mean they would have to use Roku Ads Manager to access ad inventory, as it would still be available via third-party DSPs.

Roku’s communications department declined to comment on record when approached directly by Digiday.

Roku has 80 million active accounts that generated more than 100 billion hours of streaming last year, according to its latest official statistics. And while it does not solely break out its revenues derived from advertising, the CTV company claimed such revenues generate the bulk of its “platform revenue,” which contributed $3 billion to its overall $3.5 billion income in 2023, according to its latest financial filings.

Multiple sources pointed to how the facilities offered within the Roku Ads Manager platform, such as a lower campaign spend minimum and easier set-up tools compared to OneView, indicated that it is making a more concerted play for SME ad spend.

Such positioning is in line with Roku’s peers in the ongoing CTV landgrab, as Disney’s Hulu and NBCUniversal have made similar moves in recent years. Meanwhile Paramount’s recent appointment of svp Emily Huo to head up its SMB advertising division demonstrates such providers are looking beyond Madison Avenue for revenue.

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