Viacom to Target Ads on Roku Streaming Boxes

Roku boxes are the most popular devices to stream Internet video to regular TVs in the U.S.

Last Updated: April 28, 2016 @ 12:02 PM

Viacom said it would target advertising on Roku boxes, the most popular devices in the U.S. to stream Internet video on traditional TV sets, in what the companies called a “first-of-its-kind” partnership.

The targeting will be based on data that Roku shares about its users. Viacom said the deal makes it the first programmer to leverage aggregate data from Roku to market to select audience segments there.

As Viacom has struggled with falling ratings at its networks, the company has been aggressive in experimenting with digital advertising options. As viewers more often pull out their phones or fire up a Roku-type box to watch content, the behavioral shift has pressured traditional TV ratings and widened defections from pay TV, as more households cut the cord.

“With this partnership, we can deliver more relevant messages to Roku consumers for products and services that interest them,”said Kern Schireson, Viacom’s executive vice president of data strategy and consumer intelligence. “Advertising experiences like this are more impactful for both consumers and marketers.”

In the U.S., Roku is the most-used box for streaming video, according to researcher Parks Associates. Last year, Roku users streamed 5.5 billion hours of content, the companies said Thursday.

In February, Viacom sealed a partnership with millennial fave Snapchat to put more of its networks’ content in front of the vanishing-messages app’s young user base and turn the television company into an agent selling ad space there.

The news comes on the same morning that Viacom reported its quarterly results. The company’s financials continued to slip in its latest period, but strength from movies like “The Big Short” and a boost from licensing to online video services helped keep its bottom line from falling as far as Wall Street had expected.