Ad Spotlight: with Mike Shaw, Director, International Ad Sales, Roku

  • 6 minutes read
  • Global
  • 20/07/2023

Welcome to the Ad Spotlight series where we hear from a different guest from the industry each month to get an insight into the landscape of advertising as well as their own personal experiences.

Our guest this month is Mike Shaw. Mike is Director of International Ad Sales at Roku, the streaming platform pioneer. He has decades of experience across Martech, digital, data, and advertising across the UK, Europe and in APAC.

Mike has a front row seat to how the industry is providing advertisers with the ability to reach and engage consumers – so we got the inside track from the man himself.

Q: Why did you choose a career in advertising?

A: I graduated in 1999, right as the internet was moving beyond basic search and email into the world of media and commerce. Suddenly, news, entertainment, and more were free to consumers and funded by advertisers.

Working at Fletcher Research in the media and telco sphere, I had a front-row seat to see how media consumption was changing and how digital advertising was funding it all. It was a brave new world where people were ripping up business models and trying new stuff daily, and that was exciting.

Q: What are the biggest challenges facing the industry right now?

A: The first is complexity. Whether it be in trading, ad delivery, or understanding, it’s too tough to get a lot of things done right now.

Linked to this is measurement. We’ve seen unprecedented fragmentation in the devices on which media is consumed, and the number of companies and individuals creating it. Accurately measuring advertising value is difficult. We need independent accountability.

Finally, we need to help clients make their investments work even harder during this period of economic downturn.  

Solving these issues requires simplifying the process for buyers. Otherwise, they (and their budgets) will gravitate to where things are easier - even if they’re less effective.

Q: Sum up the future of advertising/media in three words...

A: Disruptive: Everyone across the value chain must stay focused on innovation as consumer behaviour and technology evolves. 

Challenging: Structural issues need solving. But seeing initiatives like cross-channel measurement makes me optimistic the industry can overcome them.

Creative: I’m predicting a renaissance in creativity that harnesses technology to tell great stories to the people that matter. Let’s use micro-targeting, automation, etc., to let creatives do what they do best.

Q: What is your biggest career highlight?

A: What I’m doing right now. Getting to build great sales teams and be involved in TV at this moment is akin to the dot com era of the internet. The global explosion of streaming is transformational for the television industry, and the associated opportunities for advertisers.

Q:...and biggest regret?

A: I would have loved to work on the agency side. I’ve worked on the platform side and measurement side, but I’ve not experienced that last part of the triangle.

Q: What is your favorite advert of all time?

A: Nike’s Summer 1998 campaign ahead of the men’s World Cup in France. Adidas was the tournament sponsor, but the Brazilian team weaving their way through an airport to a great soundtrack was iconic. Ask anyone which of the two brands was synonymous with that World Cup and I’d wager they’d pick Nike.

Let’s switch things up from samba to streaming to see what the present and future looks like across the sector...

Q: What is the future for streaming – and what role does advertising have to play?

A: The future of streaming and advertising are inextricably linked. The perception of streaming as a subscription-only service is outdated. The fastest growth category on Roku’s platform last year was the ad supported content.

Services that were previously subscription-only have launched ad strategies in the last 18 months. In the next few years, we’re going to see a big shift of ad budgets into streaming environments – some from traditional linear buys, some from digital – as streaming TV continues to capture consumer attention and engagement.

Q: How is the economic downturn impacting advertising on streaming platforms – from the perspective of the customer, advertiser, and platform?

A: I think it’s accelerated a trend that already existed. From a consumer perspective, streaming platforms like Roku offer a huge amount of entertainment options. As household budgets for other leisure activities come under more pressure, l options that include advertising are likely to see an accelerated uptake.

From an advertiser perspective, marketing budgets come under a huge amount of scrutiny. Accountability is high. You can’t spend money with impunity. So, things like first-party data and integrated payment capabilities turn the television from a branding medium into something that can be branding.

From a platform point of view, we’re focused on helping users access the content they want faster. That means focusing on innovation around ad formats and UX to give consumers and our partners a better experience and higher engagement.

Q: Can you talk about T-commerce and the role of TV streaming and addressable TV?

A: We’re right at the forefront of this at Roku. The way content is now delivered means TV’s role in the commerce journey can go way beyond the ‘shop window’ that it was in traditional advertising and become a transactional medium in itself.

In the U.S., we introduced a partnership with Walmart that allows Roku users to use their remote to learn more about a product being advertised and even complete the transaction because their payment and fulfillment details are already housed within the Roku payment platform. This makes the transaction process super quick and frictionless and gets the customer back to their content ASAP.

Plus, the significant wave of innovation in shoppable TV ad formats and the ability to transact using the remote control make it easier than ever to convert sales on the biggest screen in the house.

Enjoyed this Ad Spotlight? Check out previous editions to see how other names across the industry found their way into advertising, and what they predict for its future – including Kelly Parker (CEO, Wavemaker UK) and Seb Munden (Chair, Ad Net Zero).