Local ShoppingWalmart, Roku partner to evolve shoppable streaming ads 'beyond the QR code'

Walmart, Roku partner to evolve shoppable streaming ads ‘beyond the QR code’

Dive Brief:

  • Walmart and Roku are piloting a new feature that aims to make shopping from TV ads more seamless, according to a press release
  • Roku viewers who are served Walmart ads via the streaming service can press the “OK” button on their remotes to be sent directly to a checkout screen. Orders can be purchased using Roku Pay and completed by pressing “OK” again. Walmart then sends the customer an email with their information and fulfills the order.  
  • Walmart is the exclusive retailer using the technology, which leverages Roku’s OneView ad-buying platform. Roku is also pushing its Roku Brand Studio to help marketers design and execute their campaigns. The partnership builds on Walmart’s ongoing efforts to link video and commerce together and shows Roku ramping up its own advertising bets in a tightly competitive streaming market.   

Dive Insight:

Walmart and Roku are looking to remove friction from the process of purchasing products from streaming TV ads, a concept that’s long held appeal for marketers but has seen spotty adoption from consumers. The lack of traction could stem from a lousy user experience.  

In the release, Walmart and Roku emphasized their tech tie-up is intended to evolve the shoppable video experience “beyond the QR code.” Typically, users who want to buy something they see in a shoppable ad need to scan a code and visit an outside website to complete their order. Walmart’s integration with Roku happens directly within the app and relies on a remote that viewers already own, allowing for a simple checkout process that requires just a few taps of the button. 

The move shows Roku trying to unify a variety of offerings, including its hardware, payments platform, advertising technology and marketing services division. Like many pandemic darlings, the streaming platform has struggled to adjust as people taper off habits that kept them occupied during earlier lockdowns. The streaming category has felt a general squeeze amid a proliferation of platforms and slowing economy. 

Cracking the code on video commerce could kickstart fresh momentum and potentially attract advertisers beyond Walmart that are interested in tracking how much their consumer-facing messages translate into actual sales. Roku is using the moment to tout its tech stack, which can assist with campaign targeting, optimization and measurement, along with a brand studio it launched last year. Roku stock popped on news of the Walmart partnership. 

For Walmart, the pilot adds to a growing list of experiments that seek to blend content and e-commerce closer together. The big-box store was the first to host a livestream shopping activation on TikTok in 2020. It dipped into a similar well on Twitter around the holidays last year

Walmart at the same time is trying to build its own advertising juggernaut through its Connect unit, and a bigger streaming play could support that bet. The firm used to operate the on-demand video streaming service Vudu, but sold the property to Fandango in 2020

Walmart and Roku’s pilot arrives as the e-commerce frenzy that animated the retail sector earlier in the pandemic shows signs of cooling while brick-and-mortar experiences a bounce back.  

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