Watch TV with Roku? You're about to see more adverts every time you reach for the remote

a hand is pictured holding a roku streaming dongle with a blurred artwork for streaming shows in the background

Roku viewers should brace themselves for more interactive adverts to surface throughout the homescreen and screensavers on their set-top box and Smart TVs

Aaron Brown

By Aaron Brown

Published: 01/02/2024

- 11:30

Updated: 01/02/2024

- 11:30

Interactive adverts are coming to your set-top box, Roku VP confirms

  • Roku will bring advertisements to "more parts of the screen and home"
  • Adverts expand beyond entertainment brands, starting with travel and cars
  • Popularity of ad-free streaming means Roku adverts are crucial for firms
  • Roku has a new interactive ad format, called Virtual Showrooms

Roku is bringing more on-screen adverts to its streaming set-top boxes and Smart TVs in a blow to millions of viewers worldwide. The bad news was confirmed by Roku Vice President of Global Ad Sales and Partnerships, Kristian Shepard, during the CES tradeshow earlier this month.

Upcoming software updates will “immerse advertisers in more parts of the screen and home,” Shepard told publication Adexchanger at the annual industry event in Las Vegas.

Adverts are no longer limited to new movies or TV shows that you can watch on the Roku platform. Roku has confirmed that ads for cars, restaurants, and travel companies will soon begin to pop up throughout the menus on the hugely popular streaming set-top boxes and TVs.

With the popularity of ad-free plans on streamers like Disney+, Netflix, Apple TV+, and Prime Video, the curated homescreen on set-top boxes like Roku has become a unique opportunity for advertisers to promote their products to viewers before they disappear into an ad-free app to binge-watch their favourite shows. It’s an opportunity that Roku to keen to grasp.

an lg executive stands on stage during a keynote address at the ces tradeshow in 2024

The comments from the Roku VP were made during the CES tradeshow, which takes place in early January each year in Las Vegas


Advertisers will be able to take advantage of the so-called “Virtual Showrooms” technology that Roku demonstrated last summer, which providesa full-screen interactive catalogue for viewers to browse. Subaru was the first brand to use this new system.

Adverts can already be found on the home screen, screensavers, and the pause menu on Roku devices and Roku-powered Smart TVs. The US company does offer some limited controls on what appears in these slots, including the ability to rule out certain categories, including mature and sexual content, medication and supplements, religion, and violence.

It’s also possible to hide adverts — so can quash a promotion that isn’t relevant to you, one that you’ve seen multiple times before, or a topic that offends you.

However, Roku places a limit on the number of ads that can be hidden in a 24-hour window to prevent viewers from hiding everything for an ad-free experience.

Roku offers brands the ability to retarget viewers who have clicked on their adverts on their set-top box, including off-platform using its proprietary OneView demand-side platform (DSP).

Roku is the biggest TV platform in the United States, with strong sales in the UK and other countries across the globe, thanks in part to its simple layout, affordable price tag,and powerful search that scours the libraries of every streaming and catch-up service installed on your device.

That popularity is what has enabled these new advertising opportunities, with Roku’s Kristian Shepard summarising “more reach comes more opportunity for advertising”.

But whether Roku viewers remain loyal as immersive adverts start to crop up in more parts of the Roku interface remains to be seen.

Roku isn’t alone in its push to bring more advertising to screens. Amazon confirmed plans to present adverts on its rival Fire TV platform when searching for shows, films, directors and actors using voice assistant Alexa late last year.

Not only that, but the expansive banner at the top of the Fire TV homescreen will be available to brands outside of the entertainment industry for the first time, paving the way for household items to appear above the list of streaming apps installed on your set-top box or Smart TV.

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