Roku To Strike Demographic-Based Audience Guarantees For OTT

Roku will offer audience guarantees this upfront season, joining big networks like NBC with similar programs.

Several agencies, including Horizon Media and Hill Holliday’s media spinoff, Trilia, are beta testing Roku’s audience guarantees.

Roku’s offering is based on the set-top box maker’s existing integration to Nielsen Digital Ad Ratings, which helped buyers determine their waste after the campaign ran.

Demographic-based audience guarantees take that measurement one step further, said Scott Rosenberg, SVP of advertising for Roku. These guarantees are par for the course in traditional linear TV buys and buyers were asking for the same assurances for over-the-top TV.

“We would promise to deliver [a client’s] target audience demographic upfront and that’s important because it’s the way they trade in TV today,” he explained. “We’re positioned, from a data science perspective, to place an ad in front of a user we know with high confidence will deliver within the target demo.”

Roku matches subscriber data back to Nielsen’s digital campaign ratings to guarantee the delivery of impressions within a target demo. 

The capability is particularly important to vertical TV advertisers which rely heavily on demographic targeting to drive sales.

But buyers want even more granular targeting than demographic-based audience guarantees currently provide, Rosenberg acknowledged. Advertisers selling higher-consideration products like home mortgages or luxury autos might want to factor in additional data points.

“The market wants to trade on advanced attributes beyond core demographics,” Rosenberg said. “But being able to guarantee an impression will sit in front of a qualified audience is still an important step.”

In a traditional TV guarantee, a network and an advertiser might cut a deal where that advertiser spends a certain amount to reach however many impressions or GRPs in their designated demographic. If the network doesn’t deliver, they must issue a makegood.

“That’s been the core dynamic in place in TV for years, and we’re now offering that same capability, if a buyer wants to structure a deal that way,” Rosenberg said. “It may be some time before media owners can guarantee more advanced outcomes, but every year there’s more pressure to sell on advanced attributes.”

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