Roku launches click-to-buy ad partnership with Walmart

(Photo courtesy Roku, Graphic by The Desk)

Roku and Walmart are teaming up on a new advertisement concept that will allow Roku users to buy things from Walmart using their remote control.

On Thursday, the companies announced the shoppable advertising pilot that will see Walmart offer items for sale through advertisements displayed on Roku devices.

Executives at Roku said the pilot program is meant to go beyond quick reference, or QR, codes that have become common on streaming and broadcast video since the start of the pandemic but have shown to overall generate poor results.

“Through extensive testing at Roku, we already know that QR codes show very poor results,” Peter Hamilton, the executive in charge of television commerce at Roku, told the trade publication Adweek. ” Roku users are far more likely to lean in and learn more by tapping their remote.”

Kristina Shepard, an executive in charge of national brands and partnerships at Roku, took things one step further, saying Roku had found that customers were “five times more likely to click their remotes than scan a QR code.”

“Phones distract us from TV; remotes bring us in,” Shepard said.

The Roku remote will play a pivotal role in allowing customers to shop at Walmart using just their TV sets. When a customer encounters an eligible Walmart commerce ad, they’ll be able to click on whatever item they like, then pay for that purchase using the credit or debit card information stored in Roku Pay — the same payment processing feature that customers already use when they sign up for subscriptions through the Roku Channel and other apps.

Shipping information will automatically be filled in via Roku Pay, too, and customers will receive a confirmation e-mail with purchase details to the addresses on their Roku account.

“For years, streamers have purchased new Roku devices and signed up for millions of subscriptions with their Roku remote,” Hamilton said in a press release. “Streaming commerce brings that same ease and convenience to marketers and shoppers.”

The partnership with Walmart will help bring the retailer in front of Roku’s more than 50 million active users at a time when the company is building its e-commerce presence to compete with Amazon and Target.

“From a Walmart perspective, meeting customers where they are is absolutely a foundational component of our marketing strategy,” William White, Walmart’s chief marketing officer, told Adweek.